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
Feast of the Holy Innocents, also called Childermas, or Innocents’ Day, festival celebrated in the Christian churches in the West on December 28 and in the Eastern churches on December 29 and commemorating the massacre of the children by King Herod in his attempt to kill the infant Jesus (Matthew 2:16–18). These children were regarded by the early church as the first martyrs, but it is uncertain when the day was first kept as a saint’s day. At first it may have been celebrated with Epiphany, but by the 5th century it was kept as a separate festival. In Rome it was a day of fasting and mourning.
It was one of a series of days known as the Feast of Fools, and the last day of authority for boy bishops. Parents temporarily abdicated authority. In convents and monasteries the youngest nun and monk were allowed to act as abbess and abbot for the day. These customs, which mocked religion, were condemned by the Council of Basel in 1431.
In medieval England the children were reminded of the mournfulness of the day by being whipped in bed in the morning; this custom survived into the 17th century. See Dyzymas Day.
The day is still observed as a feast day and, in Roman Catholic countries, as a day of merrymaking for children.
December 28 is Dyzymas Day, also known as Holy Innocent’s Day, or Childremass. This day has always, in one way or another been associated with children. In more recent times the connection is specifically with the children slaughtered at the orders of Herod, who feared the prophecy of the Magi that a new King of the Jews had been born in Judea.
Throughout the Middle Ages this day was considered particularly unlucky and it was believed that no task begun on December 28th would prosper. Both the French King Louis XI and the English King Edward IV refused to do any business on this date, and the latter postponed his coronation when it was originally planned for this inauspicious date.
In Northamptonshire it was known as Dyzymas Day and a local saying was:
“What is begun on Dyzymas Day will never be finished.”
A more barbaric practice that continued well into the eighteenth century was to beat children on this day. This seems to have been a curious mixture of ideas – that if the children were made to suffer on this day they would be spared the rest of the year, and, moreover, that such beatings would drive out any evil spirits who might have taken up residence in the child.
These beatings rarely involved real cruelty. Indeed, the underlying theme of the day was a kind of equality. Thus wives and husbands exchanged token blows, and in parts of Germany and Sweden children were permitted to beat their parents.
Freshly gathered evergreen branches were used for this task, with birch and rosemary being particularly popular. A chant preserved from this time goes:
Fresh green! Long life!
Give me a coin!
While in other places servants beat their masters crying:
Fresh, green, fair, and fine,
Gingerbread and brandy-wine!
The whole idea seems to have been to show that by expressing individuality and exchanging gentle blows, true anger and aggression might thus be waived for the coming year – an enlightened notion from which we might well learn today.
From The Winter Solstice