Daily Archives: July 9, 2017
Knut the Reaper is possibly the original Grim Reaper, complete with the appearance of a skeleton clad in dark flowing robes wielding a scythe. In Norse mythology he enjoys commemoration on July 10 with the goddesses (Hel or Hela, Holda and Skadi) of the shades and underworlds Helheim and Niflheim.
Traditional processions of huge effigies of giants, animals or dragons encompass an original ensemble of festive popular manifestations and ritual representations. These effigies first appeared in urban religious processions at the end of the fourteenth century in many European towns and continue to serve as emblems of identity for certain Belgian (Ath, Brussels, Dendermonde, Mechelen and Mons) and French towns (Cassel, Douai, Pézenas and Tarascon), where they remain living traditions.
The giants and dragons are large-scale models measuring up to nine metres in height and weighing as much as 350 kilos. They represent mythical heroes or animals, contemporary local figures, historical, biblical or legendary characters or trades. St. George fighting the dragon is staged in Mons; Bayard, the horse from the Charlemagne legend, parades in Dendermonde; and Reuze Papa and Reuze Maman, popular family characters, parade at Cassel.
The performances, often mixing secular procession and religious ceremony, vary from town to town, but always follow a precise ritual in which the giants relate to the history, legend or life of the town.
July 10th is Lady Godiva Day. I’m sure we’re all familiar with the story – but here it is again:
The Countess Godiva devoutly anxious to free the city of Coventry from a grievous and base thralldom often besought the Count, her husband, that he would for love of the Holy Trinity and the sacred Mother of God liberate it from such servitude. But he rebuked her for vainly demanding a thing so injurious to himself and forbade her to move further therin.
Yet she, out of her womanly pertinacity, continued to press the matter insomuch that she obtained this answer from him: “Ascend,” he said, “thy horse naked and pass thus through the city from one end to the other in sight of the people and on thy return thou shalt obtain thy request.”
Upon which she returned: “And should I be willing to do this, wilt thou give me leave?”
“I will,” he responded.
Then the Countess Godiva, beloved of God, ascended her horse, naked, loosing her long hair which clothed her entire body except her snow white legs, and having performed the journey, seen by none, returned with joy to her husband who, regarding it as a miracle, thereupon granted Coventry a Charter, confirming it with his seal.
From the Flores Historiarum by Roger of Wendover
Celebrated by the residents of Nunavut, Canada, on July 9 each year, Nunavut is a time to honor the efforts of those who helped to bring this territory into being. For many years, the Inuit had worked toward forming their own territory. On July 9, 1993, the Nunavut Land Claims Agreement Act took effect, and Nunavut was established on April 1, 1999. Nunavut Day was declared an official government holiday in 2001.
The day is traditionally celebrated with live music, barbecues, the wearing of traditional dress, traditional foods are served, and the community sponsors activities such as concerts, craft fairs, and contests, including seal skinning and duck plucking.