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Alternative Holidays beyond the 8 Sabbats and the Wheel of the Year
Pretty much everyone who labels themselves as Pagan knows of the Wheel of the Year along with the 8 Sabbats. Not everyone knows that those 8 Sabbats are based not upon a specific set of 8 ancient holidays of one culture but are an amalgamation of holidays that occurred near each other from European tribes.
I’m going to write a bit today about the different Heathen holidays that fall between now and the end of the year. Some correspond with ones common in the wheel of the year some do not. I’m using the names common to either Modern Heathenry or Germanic branch of heathenry, the names are different depending on the region.
Haustblot or Fall-fest: is the Germanic holiday for the Fall Equinox. (September 23rd ish) It involves feasting, dancing, celebrating and being thankful if their was a good harvest. For our ancestors this was often right when the cold of winter was beginning to start. They would light bonfires and join as families around them to share in the protection of the light and warmth.
Winterfinding (Mid October): In more Northern climates the beginning of Winter is seen as Mid-October and is celebrated as Winterfinding. Some areas combined Winterfinding with Fall-fest, from what I can find it seems to still be a very typical harvest festival and blot for protection of the winter to come.
Vetrnaetr or Winters Night (October 31st-November 1st): A night for honoring both the Gods and one’s Ancestors. Often a Disablot was done on this night also. The Disir are a group of female beings who control or manage the fate of mortal men.
Feast of the Einherjar (Nov. 11th): Also called the Feast of the Fallen. Though this feast is recorded in the Lore and Sagas the current date is a Modern interpretation. November 11th marked the end of World War I and as a result there are numerous memorial holidays on this date globally. In the USA it is Veterns Day, in New Zealand, France and Belgium it is Armistice Day, in the UK and all Commonwealth Nations it is Remembrance Day. The feast is a day to recognize all Warriors who have died and battle and now reside in Valhalla and the halls of other Gods and Goddesses. .
Mother’s Night (Winter Solstice): The first day of Yule where Frigga and the Disir are honored. As the Sun is female in Heathen cosmology the name Mother’s Night refers to the rebirth of the sun. Some groups practice by holding a vigil all night to ensure that the sun will rise on the following day.
Yule (The 12 days following the Winter Solstice): Yule is pretty much how we all know it except it is a much longer celebration. Many of the symbols associated with Modern Christmas are directly from the European traditions of Yule so houses often look very similar. There are theories that Santa comes from Wodan (Odin) and the Wild Hunt. The Wild Hunt are the restless dead and during this time they ride across the countryside. It is not a safe time to be out and about alone but offerings of food and drink are left out to appease them so they will move on. I know some who leave a door or window open on each side of their house to allow them safe passage through.
Yule logs are also lit being they candles in a decorative log candle holder like our own or a single log that is left to burn for 12 days. I’ve only heard of once someone having a log that lasted all 12 days and it was a huge log.
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