Family Gatherings

  • Themes: Work; Rest; Recreation; Prosperity
  • Symbols: All the Tools of Your Trade
  • Presiding Deity: Ka-blet-jew-lei-hat

About Ka-blet-jew-lei-ha: The Assam goddess of the marketplace and merchants takes a much deserved rest from her labors today and focuses on rewarding tasks that have been well done throughout the last eight months.

To do today:

For most folks in the United States, Labor Day (celebrated the first Monday in September) represents a long weekend without normal workaday activities. From a magical perspective, this holiday offers us a chance to thank Ka-blei-jew-lei-ha for our jobs (which keep a roof overhead and food on the table) and ask for her blessing on the tools we use regularly. For example:

  • A secretary might empower his or her pen and steno pad.
  • A musician can charge his or her instrument.
  • A shopkeeper might anoint the cash register.
  • A book dealer might burn specially chosen incense near goddess-centered books (and in the business section).

Some potential herbal tinctures and oils to use for inspiring Ka-blei-jew-lei-ha’s prosperity and watchfulness include cinnamon, clove, ginger, mint, orange, and pine. To partake of the goddess’s abundance by energizing your skills with her magic, blend all of these (except pine) into a tea. To bless your home or your workplace blend the above oils with water and wash the front steps with it.

The goddess can help with job searches too. Just tell her your need then review the newspaper and see what companies catch your eye. Then get on the phone or get the resume out so Ka-blei-jew-let-hat can open that doorway.

Source: 365 Goddess

Note: The only reference to this goddess that I could find was the one in the book 365 Goddess. More commonly, Oya and Ayizan are the goddesses associated with the marketplace.

st-david-of-walesCorrespondences:

  • Colors: red, green, white
  • Plants: Daffodils, leeks
  • Activities: Send flowers, attend concerts, host a dinner party

Saint David’s Day is the feast day of Saint David, the patron saint of Wales, and falls on 1 March each year. The date of 1 March was chosen in remembrance of the death of Saint David on that day in 589, and has been celebrated by followers since then. The date was declared a national day of celebration within Wales in the 18th century.

The 17th century diarist Samuel Pepys noted how Welsh celebrations in London for St David’s day would spark wider counter-celebrations among their English neighbors: life-sized effigies of Welshmen were symbolically lynched, and by the 18th century the custom had arisen of confectioners producing ‘Taffies’ – gingerbread figures baked in the shape of a Welshman riding a goat – on St David’s Day.

In 2003 in the United States, St. David’s Day was recognized officially as the national day of the Welsh, and on 1 March the Empire State Building was floodlit in the national colors, red, green and white. It is invariably celebrated by Welsh societies throughout the world with dinners, parties, recitals and concerts.

To celebrate this day, people wear a symbol of either a leek, or daffodil. The leek arises from an occasion when a troop of Welsh were able to distinguish each other from a troop of English enemy dressed in similar fashion by wearing leeks. An alternative emblem developed in recent years is the daffodil.

Source: Unknown

Here is a nice little article about the history of midwinter celebrations from Delaware Online:

winter-solstice-card

Ancient Worship:

Long ago, people worshiped the sun as a god. His cycles were watched and measured with great care because it was thought the quality of life on Earth changed dramatically according to his whims.

As the season changed and winter fell, survival became much harder for ancient man. Many would not live through a cold winter, when food became scarce. As the days shortened, they feared the sun would disappear completely and leave them helpless in the dark.

So they lighted fires and performed elaborate rituals to ensure the sun’s return. They also feasted when the sun reversed its course, and days began to grow long again.

One of the earliest solstice celebrations was the Mesopotamian holiday Zagmuk. When light waned in mid-winter, Mesopotamians would re-enact their god Marduk’s battle against the forces of darkness and chaos and then celebrate the victory of light and order.

More than 4,000 years ago, ancient Egyptians called their sun god Ra-Horakhty, later known as Horus. As winter arrived and his appearance became more brief each day, it was seen as a sign that he was growing weak and ill. In late December, when days began to grow longer, they celebrated his recovery and renewed health. They decked their homes with palm fronds, which symbolized the victory of life over death.

Romans honored the god Saturn by celebrating Saturnalia in early December. This festival was followed, on the solstice, by Brumalia, from the word bruma meaning “shortest day.”

By 70 A.D., many Roman soldiers had joined a cult around the sun god Mithras, whom they adopted after fighting in Persia, modern day Iran and Syria. Dec. 25 was recognized as Mithras’ birthday.

Because Mithras was so popular with soldiers, his cult spread quickly to all parts of the Roman Empire, Turkey, Bulgaria, Romania, the Balkans and gained a strong foothold in Britain. His temples, called Mithraeums, can be found throughout England and Germany.

In the fourth century, the Roman Emperor Constantine proclaimed Dec. 25 the birthday of Jesus Christ, according to many scholars.

“The popularity of Mithraism in the Roman Empire was probably why the early Christian Church decided to celebrate the birth of Jesus at that time,” said Alan Fox, a philosophy professor at the University of Delaware. It was thought that it would be easier to persuade the local people to accept new beliefs if the new religious rituals were superimposed on a holiday from their own religion.

Our Christmas celebrations closely resemble the ancient Roman festivals. People went visiting, gifts were exchanged and feasts were shared. Decorated cookies and cakes were baked and given out to friends. Trees were hung with pieces of metal, and homes were lighted with candles and festooned with holly and other greenery, often in the form of wreaths.

Modern ritual:

As their earliest ancestors did, many Delawareans will celebrate the shortest day of the year, Dec. 21, with reflection and celebration.

Ivo Dominguez Jr. plans to mark the event outside his rural Georgetown home with a bonfire and rituals that symbolize new light and life. Under the night sky, Dominguez, an elder in a religious community known as the Assembly of the Sacred Wheel, will gather with more than 50 fellow Wiccans.

Wicca, a nature religion whose central deity is a mother goddess, is one of the nation’s fastest-growing spiritual traditions, according to the American Academy of Religion. It was formally founded in the United Kingdom in the late 1940s.

To Dominguez and other practitioners, the fascination with the cycles of nature goes back tens of thousands of years. And for people atuned to the Earth and the sun, the winter solstice is an important time.

“It’s a time to gather and renew hope,” Dominguez said.

Many spiritual traditions also have rituals of light at what is also the season of greatest dark.

Judaism has Hanukkah, a festival of lights. And Christians have numerous traditions, including the lighting of a Christmas tree. An annual celebration that remains popular in Delaware’s Swedish community is the St. Lucia Festival.

Because St. Lucia’s name means light, she was known as the saint of light in Norway and Sweden and was considered responsible for turning the tide of long winter days and bringing back the sun.

This year, about 300 people gathered Sunday at the Old Swedes Episcopal Church in Wilmington to watch the pageant. It begins with a procession led by a young girl chosen to represent St. Lucia.

During the pageant, St. Lucia wears a crown of candles, and her attendants wear white gowns with red sashes to symbolize Lucia’s bloody death by sword. She was said to have been beheaded in the year 304 during Christian persecutions in Sicily. St. Lucia’s feast day (the day of her martyrdom) falls on Dec. 13, which, by the Julian calendar, was also the solstice. In 1300, with the change to the Gregorian calendar, the solstice came to fall on Dec. 21.

“The festival of St. Lucia is very important in Sweden because they have a lot of darkness.” said Jo Thompson, a spokeswoman for the Old Swedes church. “The solstice was a signal that spring is coming.”

At Mill Creek Unitarian Universalist Church, an outdoor gathering will help participants connect with nature, said church minister Nancy Dean. The church will celebrate the solstice at 7:30 p.m. Wednesday with a bonfire and service.

“Winter was always a difficult time,” Dean said. “Dread of winter is still a part of our biology.”

The celebration also is a way to honor religions that predate modern ones. Ancient people felt “a need to honor the deities perceived to be in charge of all this,” she said.

Dean will gather fellow celebrants in a circle and join them in chanting and singing. Each participant will hold an evergreen branch, usually holly, and toss it into the fire. The group will share what has been important in their lives during the year. Afterward, a party with a jazz band, cookies and hot chocolate will continue the festivities.

Other area churches also note the winter solstice. The Unitarian Universalist Church of Delaware County in Media, Pa., plans to focus on rebirth. Congregants will gather at 7:30 tonight to welcome the return of the light with song, drumming, dancing and candlelight.

People gain comfort from these celebrations, Dean said.

“It is a hope-filled time because, though it is dark and cold, you know things will get better as the days lengthen,” she said. “Honoring the longest night reminds [people] to see hope during the other dark times of their lives.”

Art from: Megalithic

The Feast of Ullr was traditionally a hunting festival. Ullr, god of hunting, and the bow was honoured and a feast was shared by the tribe of the spoils of the hunt. I remember hearing somewhere about Skathi also being honoured on this day but I can’t recall where… Anyway, in addition to being the goddess of skiing, she also governs hunting and bows.

The tribe (or family) on this day would take a portion of the meat from the hunt and have a large and joyous feast before the winter sets in hard. Today, most of us do not hunt, we get our meals from the super market, and if we are lucky, we grow a small amount of herbs and vegetables for eating. But we always get our meat from the grocery store. So celebrating a feast of the hunt is not as powerful a gesture in out modern times.

Many Asatruar in the USA use the national Thanksgiving holiday to honor our Gods and Goddesses of the hunt (it is deer hunting season in many parts of the country). We thank them for a successful hunting season with a blot and also bless/honor those who hunt to support the family. Weapons are dedicated on this day to Ullr. Some also take advantage of the family-oriented secular holiday to honor their personal ancestors.

One way to do this is to set an extra place at the table and leave it empty so that any ancestor who wishes may join us for the feast. This is a great time for telling tales handed down through the family. Still other Asatruar refer to this holiday as “Weyland Smith’s Day” and use it to honor that great Germanic craftsman as well as those artists and artisans around us.

On this day also, you may want to take time out with family and friends to shoot  bows, throw some axes, play some Kubb and always playing a little Glima (Scandinavian Folk Wrestling of which Ullr is still remembered as the god of).

Collected from various sources including Jake Jackson and Pagan Space

Brumalia is an ancient Roman winter festival incorporating many smaller festivals celebrating Saturn, Ops and Bacchus. The word Brumalia comes from the Latin bruma meaning “shortest day.” By the Byzantine era, celebrations commenced on 24 November and lasted for a month, until Saturnalia and the “Waxing of the Light.”  It is said to have been instituted by Romulus, the legendary founder of Rome.

According to 6th century historian John Malalas1, Romulus entertained his Senators, army and staff throughout the month, assigning each day a letter and inviting those whose names began with the assigned letter to dinner parties. He also encouraged his Senators to likewise entertain their friends and staff in the same manner. According to John the Lydian, sacrifices were made of pigs to Demeter and Cronus and goats were sacrificed to Dionysus2 and speculates that Cronus is honored at this time because of his banishment into the darkness of Tartarus.

The festival marked a break for the Senate and included night-time feasting, drinking, and merriment. During this time, prophetic indications were taken as prospects for the remainder of the winter. It also incorporated a number of smaller holidays associated with various Gods.

Some people celebrated Brumalia by sacrificing goats and pigs, while devotees of the god Dionysus inflated goat skins and then jumped on them. It is also believed that each day of the festival was assigned a different letter of the Greek alphabet, starting with alpha (α) on November 24 and finishing with omega (ω) on December 17.

The festival was celebrated as late as the 6th century, until emperor Justinian’s repression of paganism.

 

Some modern Pagans use the word Brumalia to simply indicate the winter holiday season including all of its various festivals and activities. This seems quite in keeping with the spirit of the ancient use of the word.

Source: Wikipedia and Witchipedia

thanksgiving-card-2009
Thanksgiving Day is a national holiday celebrated in Canada and the United States. It was originally celebrated as a day of giving thanks for the blessing of the harvest and of the preceding year. Thanksgiving is celebrated on the second Monday of October in Canada and on the fourth Thursday of November in the United States. Several other places around the world observe similar celebrations. Although Thanksgiving has historical roots in religious and cultural traditions, it has long been celebrated in a secular manner as well.

This is the perfect time of year for everyone around the world to be thankful for what they’ve been given.

  • Sit quietly for a few minutes in complete silence. It’s best if you’re alone, and you close your eyes. Remove all problems from your thoughts for a moment. Push everything aside.

Then… think about what you DO have:

  • Are you breathing? Yes, you are. Be thankful that you’ve been given LIFE…the biggest miracle of all.
  • Do you have loved ones? Be thankful that they are in your life.
  • Do you have a roof over your head – even if it’s hard to pay for? Be thankful for that… many people don’t.
  • Are you starving? No? Be thankful that you have food to eat. There are millions starving around the world that would love to have some food from your cupboard.

Think for a moment how lucky you are to be alive… even if it’s not always easy.

28-29-henry-7

Stir-up Sunday is an informal term in Anglican churches for the last Sunday before the season of Advent. It gets its name from the beginning of the collect for the day in the Book of Common Prayer, which begins with the words, “Stir up, O Lord, the wills of thy faithful people”. But it has become associated with the custom of making the Christmas puddings on that day.

Why not blend the best of both worlds? Invoke the Goddess Hestia’s blessing in your kitchen and make some pudding for the whole family (or a gathering of friends). Traditionally, families gather together in the kitchen of their homes to mix and steam Christmas pudding on Stir-up Sunday. Parents taught their children how to mix ingredients for the pudding. Everyone took a turn to stir the pudding mix for each person involved is able to make a special wish for the year ahead. Practically, stirring the mixture is hard work, therefore as many as possible are involved.

By tradition the pudding mixture is stirred from East to West in honor of the three wise men who visited the baby Jesus.Have each person present stir the pudding clockwise for a few minutes as they focus on a wish. By next year at this time, the wish should manifest.

It was common practice to include small silver coins in the pudding mixture, which could be kept by the person whose serving included them. The usual choice was a silver threepence or a sixpence. The coin was believed to bring wealth in the coming year. Other tokens are also known to have been included, such as a tiny wishbone (to bring good luck), a silver thimble (for thrift), or an anchor (to symbolise safe harbour).

On a historical note:

The Christmas pudding is one of the essential British Christmas traditions and is said to have been introduced to Britain by Prince Albert, husband of Queen Victoria (the reality is that the meat-less version was introduced from Germany by George I in 1714.). Most recipes for Christmas pudding require it to be cooked well in advance of Christmas and then reheated on Christmas day, so the collect of the day served as a useful reminder.

About Hestia:

The Greek goddess of household affairs, Hestia watches over our cookery today to help manifest family unity and ensure tasty outcomes. As a hearth goddess, she provides the spiritual energy necessary to keep our faith sure and the inner fires burning bright. Greek art did not try to portray this goddess, because she was considered the beginning – the source from which all else was ignited and set in motion.

Light a candle this morning to welcome Hestia’s unity and energy into your home. Or, carry matches in your pocket so the spark of this goddess can ignite in any situation where it’s needed. Throughout the day, when you need more commitment to your beliefs, just light one match to invoke Hestia’s aid.

Collected from various sources

This ritual is held on or about the day of St. Martin, a Catholic saint who was given many of Odin’s original attributes. There is strong evidence that this day (Nov 12) was originally a festival time devoted to Odin and to Cernunnos, who has many similarities to the Wanderer.

This is a time of festival for several families gathered together, each bringing food and drink for the potluck feast. Prior to the time of the rites, have a day of games and feasting. The ritual should be held out of doors if possible, with the area appropriately decorated for the season with grain, fruits, maize, vegetables, nuts, leaves and flowers. Some of the last remaining Halloween decorations may be used for a final time on this day. place banners of Odin and Freya at the northern edge of the ritual area, or some appropriate other symbols of the female and male in the Divine. Whatever symbols are used, light a candle or torch before each of them.

At the beginning of the rites, the Master of the House summons the celebrants by the blowing of a horn. When all are gathered, he and the Lady of the House light candles and give them to all of the children present; then they lead the children in procession about the perimeter of the ritual area. Upon the return of the slow procession to the starting point, they instruct the small ones to place their lamps at the edge of the ceremonial area, saying:

Place this light
At the edge of our festival
So that the Great Ones
May be with us.

When all are in readiness, the Master of the House raises his hand and says:

Friends, I now bid thee
To join in a celebration
To our patron, the wise Odin,
Known also by his other names
Of Cernunnos and St Martin

The Lady of the House then says:

We call too upon Our Blessed Lady,
The good Freya
Queen of the Harvests, giver of life
And of plenty
Since before time began.

The Master of the House calls to the assembled family members:

Let us all give thanks
For the foods of the harvest, and
For the Challenge of the hunt.
May the wise Allfather bless our homes
And bless our animals, one and all.
So mote it be.

Everyone responds:

So mote it be.

 

The Lady of the House then calls:

Let us all give thanks
For the fullness of this time,
For the rich promise of the harvest time,
And for the love which binds our families
And our people.
May the Holy Lady bless our homes,
Our families, and all we own.
So mote it be.

Everyone responds

So mote it be.

Both then link hands and call to the assembled family members:

May our Lord and Blessed Lady
Give blessings upon us.
Let us give joy and reveling
Before the Great Ones,
And in so doing, honor them.
This rite is ended.
The Gods be with thee.

Everyone together:

The Gods be with thee.

The children are then asked to blow out the candles that they have set about the area of the ceremony.

From The Rites of Odin

Saint Martin’s Day, also known as the Feast of Saint Martin, Martinstag or Martinmas, as well as Old Halloween and Old Hallowmas Eve, is the feast day of Saint Martin of Tours (Martin le Miséricordieux) and is celebrated on November 11 each year. This is the time when autumn wheat seeding was completed, and the annual slaughter of fattened cattle produced “Martinmas beef”. Historically, hiring fairs were held where farm laborers would seek new posts.

Saint Martin of Tours started out as a Roman soldier then was baptized as an adult and became a monk. It is understood that he was a kind man who led a quiet and simple life. The best known legend of his life is that he once cut his cloak in half to share with a beggar during a snowstorm, to save the beggar from dying from the cold. That night he dreamed that Jesus was wearing the half-cloak. Martin heard Jesus say to the angels, “Here is Martin, the Roman soldier who is now baptized; he has clothed me.”

St. Martin was known as friend of the children and patron of the poor. This holiday originated in France, then spread to the Low Countries, the British Isles, Germany, Scandinavia, and Eastern Europe. It celebrates the end of the agrarian year and the end of the harvest.

Bishop Perpetuus of Tours, who died in 490, ordered fasting three days a week from the day after Saint Martin’s Day (11 November). In the 6th century, local councils required fasting on all days except Saturdays and Sundays from Saint Martin’s Day to Epiphany (the Feast of the Three Wise Men and the star, c.f. Matthew 2: 1-12) on January 6, a period of 56 days, but of 40 days fasting, like the fast of Lent. It was therefore called Quadragesima Sancti Martini (Saint Martin’s Lent).  This period of fasting was later shortened and called “Advent” by the Church.

The goose became a symbol of St. Martin of Tours because of a legend that when trying to avoid being ordained bishop he had hidden in a goose pen, where he was betrayed by the cackling of the geese. St. Martin’s feast day falls in November, when geese are ready for killing.

St. Martin’s Day was an important medieval autumn feast, and the custom of eating goose spread to Sweden from France. It was primarily observed by the craftsmen and noblemen of the towns. In the peasant community, not everyone could afford to eat goose, so many ate duck or hen instead.

Martinmas

Martinmas literally means “Mass of Martin”, or the day when Catholics celebrate the Holy Catholic Mass which honors St. Martin in a special way.

Martinmas, as a date on the calendar, has two meanings: in the agricultural calendar it marks the beginning of the natural winter, but in the economic calendar it is seen as the end of autumn. The feast coincides not only with the end of the Octave of All Saints, but with harvest-time, the time when newly produced wine is ready for drinking, and the end of winter preparations, including the butchering of animals.

An old English saying is “His Martinmas will come as it does to every hog,” meaning “he will get his comeuppance” or “everyone must die”. Because of this, St. Martin’s Feast is much like the American Thanksgiving – a celebration of the earth’s bounty. Because it also comes before the penitential season of Advent, it is seen as a mini “carnivale”, with all the feasting and bonfires.

As at Michaelmas on 29 September, goose is eaten in most places. Following these holidays, women traditionally moved their work indoors for the winter, while men would proceed to work in the forests.

In some countries, Martinmas celebrations begin at the eleventh minute of the eleventh hour of this eleventh day of the eleventh month (that is, at 11:11 am on November 11). In others, the festivities commence on St. Martin’s Eve (that is, on November 10). Bonfires are built and children carry lanterns in the streets after dark, singing songs for which they are rewarded with candy.

It is also a day of wine tasting and drinking.

Celebrations around the world:

  • Austria 

“Martinloben” is celebrated as a collective festival. Events include art exhibitions, wine tastings, and live music. “Martinigansl” (roasted goose) is the traditional dish of the season. In Austria St. Martin’s Day is celebrated the same way as in Germany.The nights before and on the night of Nov. 11, children walk in processions carrying lanterns, which they made in school, and sing Martin songs.

  • Belgium 

The day is celebrated on the evening of November 11 in a small part of Belgium (mainly in the east of Flanders and around Ypres). Children go through the streets with paper lanterns and candles, and sing songs about St. Martin. Sometimes, a man dressed as St. Martin rides on a horse in front of the procession.

In some areas, there is a traditional goose meal, although in West Flanders there is no specific meal; in other areas it is more a day for children, with toys brought on the night of 10 to 11 November. In the east part of the Belgian province of West Flanders, especially around Ypres, children receive presents from either their friends or family as supposedly coming from St. Martin on November 11. In other areas it is customary that children receive gifts later in the year from either their friends or family as supposedly coming from Saint Nicholas on December 5 or 6 (called Sinterklaas in Belgium and the Netherlands) or Santa Claus on December 25.

In other areas, children go from door to door, singing traditional “Sinntemette” songs, sporting a hollow beetroot with a carved face and a candle inside. Later in the evening there is a bonfire where all of them gather. At the end the beetroots are thrown into the fire, and pancakes are being served.

  • Croatia, Slovenia 

In Croatia, St. Martin’s Day (Martinje, Martinovanje) marks the day when the must traditionally turns to wine. The must is usually considered impure and sinful, until it is baptized and turned into wine. The baptism is performed by someone who dresses up as a bishop and blesses the wine; this is usually done by the host. Another person is chosen as the godfather of the wine. The foods traditionally eaten on the day are goose and home-made or store bought mlinci.

The biggest event in Slovenia is the St. Martin’s Day celebration in Maribor which marks the symbolic winding up of all the wine growers’ endeavours. There is the ceremonial “christening” of the new wine, and the arrival of the Wine Queen. The square Trg Leona Štuklja is filled with musicians and stalls offering autumn produce and delicacies.

  • Slovakia

In Slovakia, the Feast of St. Martin is like a “2nd Birthday” for those named after this saint. Small presents or money are common gifts for this special occasion. Tradition says that if it snows on the feast of St. Martin, November 11, then St. Martin came on a white horse and there will be snow on Christmas day. However, if it doesn’t snow on this day, then St. Martin came on a dark horse and it will not snow on Christmas.

  • Czech Republic 

A Czech proverb connected with the Feast of St. Martin – Martin přijíždí na bílém koni (trans. “Martin is coming on a white horse”) – signifies that the first half of November in the Czech Republic is the time when it often starts to snow. St. Martin’s Day is the traditional feast day in the run-up to Advent.

Roasted goose is usually found on restaurant menus, and the Czech version of Beaujolais nouveau, Svatomartinské víno, a young wine from the recent harvest, which has recently become more widely available and popular. Wine shops and restaurants around Prague pour the first of the St. Martin’s wines at 11:11 a.m. Many restaurants offer special menus for the day, featuring the traditional roast goose.

  • Denmark 

In Denmark, Mortensaften, meaning the evening of St. Martin, is celebrated with traditional dinners, while the day itself is rarely recognized. (Morten is the Danish vernacular form of Martin.) The background is the same legend as mentioned above, but nowadays the goose is most often replaced with a duck due to size, taste and/or cost.

  • Estonia 

In Estonia, Martinmas signifies the merging of Western European customs with local Balto-Finnic pagan traditions. It also contains elements of earlier worship of the dead as well as a certain year-end celebration that predates Christianity. For centuries mardipäev (Martinmas) has been one of the most important and cherished days in the Estonian folk calendar. It remains popular today, especially among young people and the rural population. Martinmas celebrates the end of the agrarian year and the beginning of the winter period.

Among Estonians, Martinmas also marks the end of the period of All Souls, as well as the autumn period in the Estonian popular calendar when the souls of ancestors were worshiped, a period that lasted from November 1 to Martinmas (November 11). On this day children disguise themselves as men and go from door to door, singing songs and telling jokes to receive sweets.

In Southern Estonia, November is called Märtekuu after St. Martin’s Day.

  • Germany 

A widespread custom in Germany is bonfires on St. Martin’s eve, called “Martinsfeuer.” In recent years, the processions that accompany those fires have been spread over almost a fortnight before Martinmas. At one time, the Rhine River valley would be lined with fires on the eve of Martinmas. In the Rhineland region, Martin’s day is celebrated traditionally with a get-together during which a roasted suckling pig is shared with the neighbors.

The nights before and on the night of Nov. 11, children walk in processions carrying lanterns, which they made in school, and sing Martin songs. Usually, the walk starts at a church and goes to a public square. A man on horseback dressed like St. Martin accompanies the children. When they reach the square, Martin’s bonfire is lit and Martin’s pretzels are distributed.

In some regions of Germany (e.g. Rhineland or Bergisches Land) in a separate procession the children also go from house to house with their lanterns, sing songs and get candy in return.

The origin of the procession of lanterns is unclear. To some, it is a substitute for the St. Martin bonfire, which is still lit in a few cities and villages throughout Europe. It formerly symbolized the light that holiness brings to the darkness, just as St. Martin brought hope to the poor through his good deeds. Even though the tradition of the large, crackling fire is gradually being lost, the procession of lanterns is still practiced.

The tradition of the St. Martin’s goose or “Martinsgans”, which is typically served on the evening of St. Martin’s feast day following the procession of lanterns, most likely evolved from the well-known legend of St. Martin and the geese. “Martinsgans” is usually served in restaurants, roasted, with red cabbage and dumplings.

In some regions of Germany, the traditional sweet of Martinmas is “Martinshörnchen”, a pastry shaped in the form of a croissant, which recalls both the hooves of St. Martin’s horse and, by being the half of a pretzel, the parting of his mantle. In parts of western Germany these pastries are instead shaped like men (Stutenkerl or Weckmänner).

  • Great Britain 

In the United Kingdom, St. Martin’s Day is known as Martinmas (or sometimes Martlemass). It is one of the term days in Scotland. Many schools celebrate St. Martin’s day. Many schools are also named after St. Martin.

Martlemass beef was from cattle slaughtered at Martinmas and salted or otherwise preserved for the winter. The now largely archaic term “St. Martin’s Summer” referred to the fact that in Britain people often believed there was a brief warm spell common around the time of St. Martin’s Day, before the winter months began in earnest. A similar term that originated in America is “Indian Summer”.

  • Ireland 

In Ireland, on the eve of St. Martin’s Day, it is tradition to sacrifice a cockerel by bleeding it. The blood was collected and sprinkled on the four corners of the house. Also in Ireland, no wheel of any kind was to turn on St. Martin’s Day, because Martin was thrown into a mill stream and killed by the wheel and so it was not right to turn any kind of wheel on that day.

  • Sicily 

In Sicily, November is the winemaking season. On St. Martin’s Day Sicilians eat anise biscuits washed down with Moscato, Malvasia or Passito. More precisely, the hard biscuits are dipped into the Moscato. l’Estate di San Martino (Saint Martin’s Summer) is the traditional Sicilian reference to a period of unseasonably warm weather in early to mid November. Saint Martin’s Day is celebrated in a special way in a village near Messina and at a monastery dedicated to him overlooking Palermo beyond Monreale.

  • Latvia 

Mārtiņi (Martin’s) is traditionally celebrated by Latvians on November 10, marking the end of the preparations for winter, such as salting meat and fish, storing the harvest and making preserves. Mārtiņi also marks the beginning of masquerading and sledding, among other winter activities.

  • Malta 

St. Martin’s Day (Jum San Martin in Maltese) is celebrated in Malta on the Sunday nearest to November 11. Children are given a bag full of fruits and sweets associated with the feast, known by the Maltese as Il-Borża ta’ San Martin, “St. Martin’s bag”.

This bag may include walnuts, hazelnuts, almonds, chestnuts, dried or processed figs, seasonal fruit (like oranges, tangerines, apples and pomegranates) and “Saint Martin’s bread roll” (Maltese: Ħobża ta’ San Martin). In old days, nuts were used by the children in their games.

There is a traditional rhyme associated with this custom:

Ġewż, Lewż, Qastan, Tin
Kemm inħobbu lil San Martin.

Walnuts, Almonds, Chestnuts, Figs
I love Saint Martin so much.

A feast is celebrated in the village of Baħrija on the outskirts of Rabat (Malta), including a procession led by the statue of Saint Martin. There is also a fair, and a show for local animals. San Anton School, a private school on the island, organises a walk to and from a cave especially associated with Martin in remembrance of the day.

  • Netherlands 

The day is celebrated on the evening of the 11th of November (the day Saint Martin died), where he is known as Sint-Maarten. As soon it gets dark, children up to the age of 11 or 12 (primary school age) go door to door with hand-crafted lanterns made of hollowed-out sugar beet or, more recently, paper, singing songs such as “Sinte Sinte Maarten,” hoping to receive candy in return, similar to Halloween.

In the past, poor people would visit farms on the 11th of November, to get food for the winter. In the 1600’s, the city of Amsterdam held boat races. 400 to 500 light craft, both rowing boats and sailboats, took part under the eyes of a vast crowd on the banks.

  • Poland 

St. Martin’s Day is celebrated mainly in the city of Poznań. On November 11, the people of Poznań buy and eat considerable amounts of “Rogale” (pronounced Ro-gah-leh), locally produced croissants, made specially for this occasion, filled with almond paste with poppy seeds, so-called “Rogal świętomarciński” or Martin Croissants or St. Martin Croissants.

Legend has it this centuries-old tradition commemorates a Poznań baker’s dream. His nighttime reveries had St. Martin entering the city on a white horse that lost its golden horseshoe. The very next morning, the baker whipped up horseshoe-shaped croissants filled with almonds, white poppy seeds and nuts, and gave them to the poor.

In recent years, competition amongst local bakeries has become fierce for producing the best “Rogale,” and very often bakeries proudly display a certificate of compliance with authentic, traditional recipes. Poznanians celebrate with a feast, specially organised by the city. There are different concerts, a St. Martin’s parade and a fireworks show.

  • Portugal 

In Portugal, St. Martin’s Day is commonly associated with the celebration of the maturation of the year’s wine, being traditionally the first day when the new wine can be tasted.

It is celebrated, traditionally around a bonfire, eating the magusto, chestnuts roasted under the embers of the bonfire (sometimes dry figs and walnuts), and drinking a local light alcoholic beverage called água-pé (literally “foot water”, made by adding water to the pomace left after the juice is pressed out of the grapes for wine – traditionally by stomping on them in vats with bare feet, and letting it ferment for several days), or the stronger jeropiga (a sweet liquor obtained in a very similar fashion, with aguardente added to the water). Água-pé, though no longer available for sale in supermarkets and similar outlets (it is officially banned for sale in Portugal), is still generally available in small local shops from domestic production.

Leite de Vasconcelos regarded the magusto as the vestige of an ancient sacrifice to honor the dead and stated that it was tradition in Barqueiros to prepare, at midnight, a table with chestnuts for the deceased family members to eat. The people also mask their faces with the dark wood ashes from the bonfire. A typical Portuguese saying related to Saint Martin’s Day:

É dia de São Martinho;
comem-se castanhas, prova-se o vinho.

It is St. Martin’s Day,
we’ll eat chestnuts, we’ll taste the wine.

This period is also quite popular because of the usual good weather period that occurs in Portugal in this time of year, called Verão de São Martinho (St. Martin’s Summer). It is frequently tied to the legend since Portuguese versions of St. Martin’s legend usually replace the snowstorm with rain (because snow is not frequent in most parts of Portugal, while rain is common at that time of the year) and have Jesus bringing the end of it, thus making the “summer” a gift from God.

  • Spain 

In Spain, St. Martin’s Day is the traditional day for slaughtering fattened pigs for the winter. This tradition has given way to the popular saying “A cada cerdo le llega su San Martín”, which translates as “Every pig gets its St Martin.” The phrase is used to indicate that wrongdoers eventually get their comeuppance.

  • St. Maarten / St. Martin 

In Sint Maarten, November 11 is St. Martin’s Day, not because of the same traditions as in other countries but that’s the date when the island was discovered by Christopher Columbus, in 1493. It is a public holiday on both sides to commemorate this event. Celebrations highlight tradition music, culture, and food.

  • Sweden 

St Martin’s Day was an important medieval autumn feast, and the custom of eating goose spread to Sweden from France. In early November, geese are ready for slaughter, and on St. Martin’s Eve, November 10, it is time for the traditional dinner of roast goose.

The custom is particularly popular in Skåne in southern Sweden, where goose farming has long been practiced, but it has gradually spread northwards. A proper goose dinner also includes apple charlotte.

  • Switzerland 

Its celebration has mainly remained a tradition in the Swiss Catholic region of the Ajoie in the canton of Jura. The traditional gargantuan feast, the Repas du Saint Martin, includes all the parts of freshly butchered pigs, accompanied by shots of Damassine, and lasting for at least 5 hours.

  • United States 

In the United States St. Martin’s Day celebrations are uncommon, and when they do happen, reflect the cultural heritage of a local community.

Many German restaurants feature a traditional menu with goose and gluhwein (a mulled red wine). St. Paul, Minnesota celebrates with a traditional lantern procession around Rice Park. The evening includes German treats and traditions that highlight the season of giving. In Dayton, Ohio the Dayton Liederkranz-Turner organization hosts a St. Martin’s Family Celebration on the weekend before with an evening lantern parade to the singing of St. Martin’s carols, followed by a bonfire.

  • Other customs 

The Auvergne region of central France traditionally hosts horse fairs on St. Martin’s Day.

Source: Wikipedia

July 9th is the Day of Unn the Wise person. Also known as Aud the Deep-Minded, Unn was a great matriarch who established dynasties in the islands Orcadas, Feroe and Iceland.

Example to follow:

Make our own families grow strong, maintain the memory and traditions of our alive ancestors. Remember the great women of your own clan on this Day of Remembrance for Unn the Deep Minded.

About Unn:

Unn was a powerful figure from the Laxdaela Saga who emigrated to Scotland to avoid the hostility of King Harald Finehair. She was the second daughter of Ketill Flatnose, a Norwegian hersir, and Yngvid Ketilsdóttir, daughter of Ketill Wether, a hersir from Ringarike. Unn married Olaf the White (Oleif), son of King Ingjald, who had named himself King of Dublin after going on voyages to Britain and then conquering the shire of Dublin. They had a son named Thorstein the Red

She established dynasties in the Orkney and Faroe Islands by carefully marrying off her grand daughters. Unn then set off for Iceland.

On her ship were twenty men, all of whom were free, but she was still the leader of them, proving that she was respected, but also that she was strong-willed enough to command a ship alone without the help of a man. In addition to the crew, there many other men on her ship, prisoners from Viking raids near and around Britain. They all came from good families, and were called bondsmen. Unn gave these men their freedom once they were in Iceland, making them freed-men, a class between slave and free, where they were not owned, but did not have all the rights of a free man. She also gave them all a great deal of land to farm on and make a living.

As a settler in Iceland she continued to exhibit all those traits which were her hallmark-strong will, a determination to control, dignity, and a noble character. In the last days of her life, she established a mighty line choosing one of her grandsons as her heir. She died during his wedding celebration, presumably accomplishing her goals and working out her destiny in this life. She received a typical Nordic ship burial, surrounded by her treasure and her reputation for great deeds.

Note:

In some pagan calendars this is shown of “Day of Un the Wise Person” which is a misprint.

Source: Asatru.org

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