January 31 is Disfest or Disablot which is a day of sacrifice honoring the Disir. The Disir are all the female relatives from the eons of time that have passed over and over see as well as protect their living family members.
In some homes every candle and light is lit in the house to honor them. A sacrifice of the very best food and drink in the house is given to the Land Wights as well. It is a day of remembrance and honoring the females that passed over and to thank them for their loving protection.
Source: Pagan Calendar
Up Helly Aa refers to any of a variety of fire festivals held in Shetland, in Scotland, annually in the middle of winter to mark the end of the yule season and celebrate the arrival of the Vikings. Traditionally held on the last Tuesday in January, the festival involves a procession of up to a thousand guizers in Lerwick and considerably lower numbers in the more rural festivals, formed into squads who march through the town or village in a variety of themed costumes.
The current Lerwick celebration grew out of the older yule tradition of tar barreling which took place at Christmas and New Year as well as Up Helly-Aa. After the abolition of tar barreling, permission was eventually obtained for torch processions. The first yule torch procession took place in 1876. The first torch celebration on Up Helly-Aa day took place in 1881. The following year the torch lit procession was significantly enhanced and institutionalized through a request by a Lerwick civic body to hold another Up Helly-Aa torch procession for the visit of the Duke of Edinburgh. The first galley was burned in 1889.
There is a main guizer who is dubbed the “Jarl”. There is a committee which you must be part of for fifteen years before you can be a jarl, and only one person is elected to this committee each year.
The procession culminates in the torches being thrown into a replica Viking longship or galley. The event happens all over Shetland, but it is only the Lerwick galley which is not sent seaward. Everywhere else, the galley is sent seabound, in an echo of legendary Viking sea burials.
After the procession, the squads visit local halls (including schools, sports facilities and hotels), where private parties are held. At each hall, each squad performs its act, which may be a send-up of a popular TV show or film, a skit on local events, or singing or dancing, usually in flamboyant costume.
Due to the often-flamboyant costumes and the large quantity of males dressing up as females (Traditionally, the Capital festival does not permit women to partake in the squads) in the Lerwick festival, it has earned the joke name ‘Transvestite Tuesday’. The photos below show a few examples of the festival’s highlights.
Called Feriae Sementivae, this one or two day Roman festival was moveable, but generally began between January 24 and January 26. Sacred to Tellus, and Ceres, this festival was for the protection of seeds, either those sown the previous fall, or those to be sown in the spring. During Sementivae plowing oxen were decorated with garlands, and puppets or masks were hung from tree branches.
This is an excellent time to begin to think about planting a “Witch’s Garden” and to do spellwork involving seeds. Spiritually and metaphysically, this is an optimum time to sow the internal seeds of what we hope to bring forth as the year unfolds.
January 17 is an excellent day for all magickal workings having to do with luck, success, and money.
It is the feast day of Fausta Felicitas, an ancient Roman Goddess of Good Fortune and Lucky Happenstance. Her name is essentially two words of the same meaning, likely doubled up for emphasis, for fausta in the Latin is the adjective “favorable” or “auspicious”, while felicitas is the noun meaning “luck”, “good fortune” or “happiness”; Her name can be translated as the nicely redundant “Lucky Luck”, though “She of Auspicious Good Fortune” probably sounds better.
By the way, the Latin felix, “happy”, and felis “cat” are related, through the theme of “fruitfulness”, as cats have many young; I’m tempted, however, to interpret the connection as referring to purring, an obvious and defining feature of happy cats.
Her name evokes the Latin saying “Quod bonum faustum felix fortunatumque sit!”, which translates as “May it be good, lucky, happy, and blessed!” According to Cicero (who lived 106-43 BCE), this phrase had been used since ancient times as the proper ritual formula said at the beginning of all kinds of projects or events to assure an auspicious outcome — for example, when cities or colonies were founded, at public rites, at the opening of festivals, or at sacrifices.
Images of this Goddess are found most often on Roman coins.
When casting the spells, the addition of the Latin saying “Quod bonum faustum felix fortunatumque sit!” as well as invoking the power of the Goddess herself would seem to ensure an even more successful outcome.
Found at The Obscure Goddess Online Directory
In ancient Greece, on the 16th and 17th of January, there was held a festival in which offerings were made to the Wind Gods of the eight directions.
Black lambs were offered as sacrifices to the destructive winds, and white ones to favourable or good winds. Boreas (North Wind) had a temple on the river Ilissus in Attica, and between Titane and Sicyon there was an altar of the winds, upon which a priest offered a sacrifice to the winds once in every year. Zephyrus (West Wind) had an altar on the sacred road to Eleusis.
If you are not big on animal sacrifices, you might consider the following:
- Singing or playing The Winds Four Quarters
- Doing a Ritual to the North Wind (since it is January)
- Learn how to use the four winds in magick.
- Practice some windy magick
Alternatively, you might go outside and stand in a high place and offer a pinch of herbs or spice to each of the four winds. Something sweet to sweeten whatever might come your way, might be appropriate.
More about these Windy Gods can be found at The Powers That Be
The Roman Goddess Concordia is honored and feasted on many different days throughout the year. She is the Goddess of Harmony and Good Relations, and her presence at any grand festival was likely required.
According to some calendars, January 16 is listed as the Festival of Concordia. I could not find much more about this particular day. I would assume that any festival involving this Goddess would or could include the following:
- Olive branches
- Coming together to work out differences
- Harmony – maybe even singing in harmony
- Sufi dances of Universal Peace might also be appropriate
The ancients honored their midwives today (January 8) as the goddess’s assistants by giving them gifts. In modern times, this might equate to sending a thank-you note to your physician or pediatrician.
- Patron Goddess: Eleithyia
- Themes: Birth; Children; Creativity; Fertility
- Symbols: A Torch; White Flowers
As the aegean goddess of birth, Eleithyia acts as the midwife to your new year, filling it with creative power. Eleithyia’s name translates as “Fluid of Generation,” giving her strong fertile aspects, and she also has a hand in personal fate.
According to myth, Eleithyia was the midwife of the gods and even birthed Eos, the creative force behind all things. When Eleithyia’s hands were closed, birth was delayed. When Eleithyia opened her body, a child arrived effortlessly.
To bring Eleithyia’s fertility to any area of your life, try this spell:
Gather a handful of white flower petals. Work in an area that somehow represents your goal. If you want a fertile garden, for example, cast this spell in your garden; for fertile ideas, perform it in your study. Visualize your goal as you release all but one petal, turning clockwise to the winds, saying:
The wish of my heart, Eleighyia see,
and bring back to me fertility.
Carry the last petal to help the magic manifest.
Source: 365 Goddess
In Belgium, the Monday after Epiphany is called “lost Monday” and is a day of universal idleness. Hence probably has arisen the custom, not confined, however, to Belgian workmen alone, of idling every Monday or as they call it “making blue Monday.”
Plough-Monday is the first Monday after Twelfth Day (6th of January), so the date varies from year to year. It is so called because, the Christmas holidays being over, the men return to their plough or daily work. It was customary on this day for farm laborers to draw a plough—called “white” on account of the mummers being dressed in white, gaudily trimmed with flowers and ribbons—through the parish, soliciting “plough-money,” which would be spent in a frolic. The queen of the feast was called Bessy. The plough was also called “fond” or “fool,” because the procession is fond or foolish, not serious nor of a business character.
Dressed in clean white smocks decorated with ribbons, the men dragged a plow (plough) through the village and collected money for the “plow light” that was kept burning in the church all year. Often men from several farms joined together to pull the plow through all their villages. They sang and danced their way from village to village to the accompaniment of music. In the evening, each farmer provided a Plough Monday supper for his workers, with plentiful beef and ale for all.
Christmas in Russia is celebrated on 7 January and marks the birthday of Jesus Christ. Christmas is mainly a religious event in Russia. On Christmas Eve (6 January), there are several long services, including the Royal Hours and Vespers combined with the Divine Liturgy. The family will then return home for the traditional Christmas Eve “Holy Supper”, which consists of 12 dishes, one to honor each of the Twelve Apostles. Devout families will then return to church for the “всенощная” All Night Vigil. Then again, on Christmas Morning, for the “заутренняя” Divine Liturgy of the Nativity. Since 1992 Christmas has become a national holiday in Russia, as part of the ten-day holiday at the start of every new year.
During the early-mid Soviet period, religious celebrations were discouraged by the official state policy of atheism until 1936. Christmas tree and related celebrations were gradually eradicated after the October Revolution. In 1935, in a surprising turn of state politics, the Christmas tradition was adopted as part of the secular New Year celebration. These include the decoration of a tree, or “ёлка” (spruce), festive decorations and family gatherings, the visit by gift-giving “Ded Moroz” (Дед Мороз “Grandfather Frost“) and his granddaughter, “Snegurochka” (Снегурочка “The Snowmaiden”).
Snowflake, a variation of The Snowmiden stories can be found here: Snowflake.
Principal dishes on the Christmas table in old Russia included a variety of pork (roasted pig), stuffed pig’s head, roasted meat chunks, jelly (kholodets), and aspic. Christmas dinner also included many other meats: goose with apples, sour cream hare, venison, lamb, whole fish, etc. The abundance of lumpy fried and baked meats, whole baked chicken, and fish on the festive table was associated with features of the Russian oven, which allowed successful preparation of large portions.
Finely sliced meat and pork was cooked in pots with semi-traditional porridge. Pies were indispensable dishes for Christmas, as well as other holidays, and included both closed and open style pirogi (pirozhki, vatrushkas, coulibiacs, kurnik, boats, saechki, shangi), kalachi, cooked casseroles, and blini. Fillings of every flavor were included (herbal, vegetable, fruit, mushrooms, meat, fish, cheese, mixed).
Sweet dishes served on the Russian Christmas table included berries, fruit, candy, cakes, angel wings, biscuits, honey. Beverages included drinking broths (kompot and sweet soups, sbiten), kissel, and, from the beginning of the 18th century, Chinese tea.
This bready, donut-shaped cake is decorated with dried fruits and spiked with a non-edible representation of the baby Jesus. Rosca de reyes is traditionally eaten on January 6 to commemorate the biblical story of the arrival of the Three Kings, (Three Kings Day). Finding the baby Jesus in your slice of cake is an honor – one the recipient celebrates by throwing a party on February 2 with tamales and atole for all guests.
- 1 (1/4-ounce) packet active dry yeast
- 1/4 cup warm water
- 1/4 cup dried figs, cut into strips, plus more for garnish
- 1/4 cup candied orange peel, cut into strips, plus more for garnish
- 1/4 cup candied lemon peel, cut into strips, plus more for garnish
- 1/4 cup chopped candied cherries, plus more whole for garnish
- 2 tablespoons light rum
- 1/4 cup milk
- 1/4 cup sugar
- 1/4 cup (1/2 stick) unsalted butter
- 1 teaspoon pure vanilla extract
- 1/4 teaspoon ground cinnamon
- 1 teaspoon salt
- 3 1/2 to 4 cups all-purpose flour
- 3 large eggs, divided
- Small ceramic Jesus figurine or coin to represent Jesus
In a small bowl, combine the yeast and warm water; stir to blend. Let stand until the yeast comes alive and starts to foam, about 5 to 10 minutes. Put all of the candied fruit in small bowl and drizzle the rum on top. Let stand for 15 minutes to 1 hour to infuse the flavor.
In a small pot, warm the milk over medium heat. Add the sugar, butter, vanilla, cinnamon, and salt.
In a large bowl, mix 3 1/2 cups flour, 2 eggs, yeast mixture, milk mixture, and the rum soaked candied fruits, mixing very well until the dough gathers into a ball. If the dough is too wet, Add additional flour, a little at a time, if needed to form a soft dough. Turn the dough out onto a lightly floured surface and knead until it’s smooth and elastic, about 5 minutes. Put the ball of dough back into the bowl and cover with plastic wrap or a kitchen towel and set aside in a warm spot to rise for 1 hour.
Remove the dough from the bowl and knead on a lightly floured surface. Using your palms, roll the dough into a long rope. Shape the coil into a ring, sealing the ends together. Insert a little doll or coin into the bread from the bottom. Line a baking pan with aluminum foil and coat with nonstick cooking spray. Carefully transfer the dough ring to the prepared baking pan.
Preheat the oven to 350 degrees F.
Beat the remaining egg in a small bowl with 1 tablespoon of water to make an egg wash, and brush the top of the bread. Decoratively garnish the top of the bread with more candied fruit and bake for 35 to 40 minutes until the cake is golden. Cool on a wire rack before slicing.
Cook’s Note: Let your guests know there is a little doll or coin inserted inside.
Recipe courtesy of Ingrid Hoffmann