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 Norse/Viking holidays

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Morwen
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PostSubject: Norse/Viking holidays   Tue May 20, 2014 11:42 pm

Jul

is the Norse New Year and was celebrated from December 20-31. The celebrations lasted twelve nights. At this time the sun is reborn and brings light and life back to the world. After Christianity's influence, the Norse god, Ingvi Freyr, was replaced by Jesus. Norse myth and legend states that this time of the year is the ending of all things. The dead walk the earth. Hope is reborn to the world as the day lengthens. Odin is said to lead the Wild Ride. On December 20th, Norse children would leave their shoes outside filled with hay and oats to feed Odin's steed. In return, a treat was left for the children. Currently, in Northern Europe this tradition continues with children filling their slippers with carrots for Santa's reindeer. Santa in return leaves chocolate and coins.

Thurseblot

is celebrated at the first full moon in January. This festival honors the god, Thor. It is Thor who is responsible for the coming of Spring. His hammer fights back the frost giants and allows the world to warm.

Disting

is celebrated on February 2nd. At this time, cattle are counted and wealth is tallied. The land is preparing for spring and growth. Part of the ritual was to celebrate the abundance that you have by checking your finances. The fields are blessed and prepared for planting.

Eostre

is celebrated on March 20-21. The goddess of spring is celebrated with colored eggs. Fertility is honored as spring anticipated. In northern Europe, winter and cold are still present. Eostre survives into modern times as Easter.

Walpurgis

is the festival of darkness. It is celebrated over nine nights from April 22 to May 1. Walpurgis remembers Odin's sacrifice on Yggdrisal. Odin sacrificed himself on the tree of life. On the ninth day, he sees the runes and dies. All light leaves the world. Then at midnight, the bonfires are lit to celebrate the return of the light and Odin's rebirth. This night is the end of the Wild Hunt and the beginning of summer. For the Norse, the dead are present in the world throughout the winter months. This celebrations is similar in feeling to Halloween. The dead rule the night.

Thrimilci

May 1st, which is about joy and fertility. In May, the weather of the north actually feels like spring.

Midsummer

is the celebration of the summer solstice (June 20-21). This is the longest day of the year and the sun is at its most powerful. This is a very important time for cultures in the north. It is a time for trading, feasting, and activity. In Norse culture, there is always a fatalistic or pessimistic side. Even though the sun is at its height, this is the time that the sun's power begins its decline until Jul. While the festivals celebrate, there is thoughtfulness in preparing for the coming of winter.

Lithasblot

is a harvest festival celebrated on July 31- August 1. A Blot is an offering to the gods. It can take the form of animal, food, or other goods. In Norse rituals, the people accept and eat the offering. Therefore, a feast is usually associated with a Blot. At this time of year, thanks is given to the earth for the harvest. The abundance is shared and money and food will be given to the poor. It is traditional for loaves of bread to be made in the shape of the sun symbol. These will be given and shared. Ceremonial magic is common at this time.

Mabon

is the last harvest of the year, September 22-23. At this time, mead and wine are made. It is considered a minor blot. Most of the wine and mead are set aside for the large festival at Midwinter, Winternights.

Winternights,

October 29 November 2, is the major holiday for the Norse. The celebration has many similarities to the Celtic Samhain rituals. The Norse remember their ancestors during this feast. It marks the end of the summer and beginning of winter. During winter, the Norse hunt and remain in their lands. The travel and trade of the summer season is over. Divination is practiced to determine the fate and luck of the coming year.
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