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Re: [Asatru-U] Holiday DatesHolidays (long)

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  • Ann Sheffield
    I would very much like to see the eight holidays fade away - they clearly come from the Wiccan Wheel of the Year , not from the lore. The three Teutonic
    Message 1 of 7 , Oct 30, 2000
      I would very much like to see the "eight holidays" fade away - they
      clearly come from the Wiccan "Wheel of the Year", not from the lore.

      The three Teutonic holidays that are well-attested are:

      Winternights, held in the autumn at the time the livestock were
      slaughtered for the winter

      Yule, usually held in early January or thereabouts

      Spring

      Though it isn't mentioned in the lore, Midsummer is so popular in the
      Scandinavian and Germanic countries that there's some basis for adding
      it, as well. (A digression: among Celtic peoplee, it's the
      "cross-quarter days" of Beltane, Samhain, etc. that were important, and
      the "eight holidays" seem to come from lumping Germanic and Celtic
      holidays together - this is how Wiccans end up celebrating both
      "Samhain" and "Yule", which are clearly two different holidays from two
      different traditions that each express their original culture's sense of
      when the Dead were most likely to join the living)

      It's worth noting that the timing of Winternights and Spring had to do
      with the local climate and agricultural cycle, not with anything
      astronomical. Yule also wasn't fixed on the exact night of the solstice
      (though it's possible that it was celebrated when the days started
      becoming discernably longer).

      I don't have a problem with our choosing to associate the traditional
      holidays with the equinoxes and solstices today, largely because it
      creates a sense of connection among heathens living in different places
      to celebrate the holidays at the same time, but I think we should be
      clear that this is a modern preference rather than a traditional one.

      As for other holidays, my experience is that most Kindreds like to hold
      a blot once a month or so and, apart from Yule, Winternights, and
      Spring/Ostara, don't have a fixed calendar of holidays, but rather try
      to get around to all the deities eventually and have blots more
      frequently to deities that are especially honored by Kindred members.
      (An exception to this pattern of variation is Einherjar, held around
      Veteran's Day in November, which has become very popular among Kindreds
      in the eastern U.S.)

      To get back to the Beginner's course - I think what I'd like people to
      learn in the Beginner's course is:

      -The stuff about the three holidays in the lore that I've just
      summarized - I'd like people to know that Winternights, Yule, and Spring
      are truly traditional and that Yule is our holiest time of year.

      -Some mention of other holidays, e.g. Einherjar, that some people
      celebrate, with a recognition that these are both modern and optional.

      -A sense that, apart from the Big Three and Maybe Midsummer, there's a
      lot of variation in heathen practice.

      In other words, I wouldn't want to give people the sense that, say,
      Walpurgisnacht is either "required" or universally celebrated among
      heathens, but it is an option if it appeals to them.

      This probably means we need a new essay about holidays for the Beginners
      Course. I think such as essay would be a Good Thing and am prepared to
      try writing one, but I won't have time to tackle it until after Yule.
      This is largely because I am a hopeless lorehead and think the essay
      should include numerous citations of primary sources about Yule, Spring,
      and Winternights, and tracking all that stuff down takes time. If anyone
      else wants to volunteer in the meantime, please don't hold back...

      Wassail,

      Groa

      Ann Groa Sheffield
      Medoburg Kindred
      www.medoburg.org
    • Berry Canote
      ... I am not so certain that the idea of eight comes from the Wiccan practice. As I said all of the ones I can think of come from Medieval celebrations of
      Message 2 of 7 , Oct 30, 2000
        --- Ann Sheffield <asheffie@...> wrote:
        > I would very much like to see the "eight holidays"
        > fade away - they
        > clearly come from the Wiccan "Wheel of the Year",
        > not from the lore.
        >
        > The three Teutonic holidays that are well-attested
        > are:
        >
        > Winternights, held in the autumn at the time the
        > livestock were
        > slaughtered for the winter
        >
        > Yule, usually held in early January or thereabouts
        >
        > Spring
        >
        > Though it isn't mentioned in the lore, Midsummer is
        > so popular in the
        > Scandinavian and Germanic countries that there's
        > some basis for adding
        > it, as well. (A digression: among Celtic peoplee,
        > it's the
        > "cross-quarter days" of Beltane, Samhain, etc. that
        > were important, and
        > the "eight holidays" seem to come from lumping
        > Germanic and Celtic
        > holidays together - this is how Wiccans end up
        > celebrating both
        > "Samhain" and "Yule", which are clearly two
        > different holidays from two
        > different traditions that each express their
        > original culture's sense of
        > when the Dead were most likely to join the living)
        >
        > It's worth noting that the timing of Winternights
        > and Spring had to do
        > with the local climate and agricultural cycle, not
        > with anything
        > astronomical. Yule also wasn't fixed on the exact
        > night of the solstice
        > (though it's possible that it was celebrated when
        > the days started
        > becoming discernably longer).
        >
        > I don't have a problem with our choosing to
        > associate the traditional
        > holidays with the equinoxes and solstices today,
        > largely because it
        > creates a sense of connection among heathens living
        > in different places
        > to celebrate the holidays at the same time, but I
        > think we should be
        > clear that this is a modern preference rather than a
        > traditional one.
        >
        > As for other holidays, my experience is that most
        > Kindreds like to hold
        > a blot once a month or so and, apart from Yule,
        > Winternights, and
        > Spring/Ostara, don't have a fixed calendar of
        > holidays, but rather try
        > to get around to all the deities eventually and have
        > blots more
        > frequently to deities that are especially honored by
        > Kindred members.
        > (An exception to this pattern of variation is
        > Einherjar, held around
        > Veteran's Day in November, which has become very
        > popular among Kindreds
        > in the eastern U.S.)
        >
        > To get back to the Beginner's course - I think what
        > I'd like people to
        > learn in the Beginner's course is:
        >
        > -The stuff about the three holidays in the lore that
        > I've just
        > summarized - I'd like people to know that
        > Winternights, Yule, and Spring
        > are truly traditional and that Yule is our holiest
        > time of year.
        >
        > -Some mention of other holidays, e.g. Einherjar,
        > that some people
        > celebrate, with a recognition that these are both
        > modern and optional.
        >
        > -A sense that, apart from the Big Three and Maybe
        > Midsummer, there's a
        > lot of variation in heathen practice.
        >
        > In other words, I wouldn't want to give people the
        > sense that, say,
        > Walpurgisnacht is either "required" or universally
        > celebrated among
        > heathens, but it is an option if it appeals to them.
        >
        > This probably means we need a new essay about
        > holidays for the Beginners
        > Course. I think such as essay would be a Good Thing
        > and am prepared to
        > try writing one, but I won't have time to tackle it
        > until after Yule.
        > This is largely because I am a hopeless lorehead and
        > think the essay
        > should include numerous citations of primary sources
        > about Yule, Spring,
        > and Winternights, and tracking all that stuff down
        > takes time. If anyone
        > else wants to volunteer in the meantime, please
        > don't hold back...
        >
        > Wassail,
        >
        > Groa
        >
        > Ann Groa Sheffield
        > Medoburg Kindred
        > www.medoburg.org


        I am not so certain that the idea of eight comes from
        the Wiccan practice. As I said all of the ones I can
        think of come from Medieval celebrations of which we
        have no idea whether or not they were celebrated in
        Heathen times. The problem is more one of
        reduplication of the same holy tides by us moderns
        than it is borrowing from the Wiccans if anything.
        Walburges may be a duplication of Eostre, Midsummer
        probably stood on its own in Heathen times (i.e.
        Snorri was wrong, three were four not three), wheat
        was not extensively grown until the Middle Ages, so
        Hlafmaest would have served no purpose (even then the
        Icelandic Althing did meet then, and there is some
        evidence it was celebrated by the Anglo-Saxons),
        Harvest and Winter Nights may have been the same holy
        tide, and Yule is indisputable. So if we are going by
        the Lore, only Yule is a definite. The only holy tide
        with nearly no evidence is the Feb. date.

        So even if we say that acording to Snorri in the
        Ynglinga Saga Chapter 8 and research into Anglo-Saxon
        practices there were only three (Snorri not being a
        reliable source in my mind for Heathen practice on a
        whole and the A-S sources being Xian survivals), we
        would still be best off mentioning the eight, while
        acknowledging the lore mentions only three with
        evidence for four. Haligwaerstow's holy tide's page
        (http://members.soltec.net/~eirini/holiday.html)
        already covers this topic on its opening page. It
        does not mention the clearly modern holy tides. These
        can be quickly added (they are mentioned on the AE
        site), or wait until the intermediate course (probably
        a better plan of attack). Since most folks I know do
        not seem to bother with the modern additions, this may
        be the best course of action.

        Frith!
        Swain

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      • Ann Sheffield
        ... Ronald Hutton makes a convincing case that these medieval celebrations, at least in England, were a blend of Celtic and Teutonic holidays modified by later
        Message 3 of 7 , Oct 30, 2000
          Berry Canote wrote:

          >
          > I am not so certain that the idea of eight comes from
          > the Wiccan practice. As I said all of the ones I can
          > think of come from Medieval celebrations of which we
          > have no idea whether or not they were celebrated in
          > Heathen times.

          Ronald Hutton makes a convincing case that these medieval celebrations,
          at least in England, were a blend of Celtic and Teutonic holidays
          modified by later (i.e., Christian) developments. In other words, I see
          the sequence as:

          - Celtic practice and A-S practice co-exist in England with unknown
          degrees of mixing. Elsewhere (e.g., Ireland, Scandinavia) the practices
          remain more separate, which is how it's now possible to figure out that
          the cross-quarter days are originally Celtic and Winternights etc. are
          Teutonic.

          -Christianity appropriates whatever pagan holidays are locally popular
          and/or conveniently match up with a Christian holiday.

          -Folk-customs develop and evolve - they combine surviving pagan elements
          that have been given Christian significance, purely Christian additions,
          and innovations by local populations.

          -Wicca (along with anthropologists and folklorists at one time, but they
          have since taken a less simple view of things) sees the pattern of
          (largely British) folk-customs and infers a "Pagan Wheel of the Year"
          that never existed in pre-Christian times.

          > The problem is more one of
          > reduplication of the same holy tides by us moderns
          > than it is borrowing from the Wiccans if anything.
          > Walburges may be a duplication of Eostre, Midsummer
          > probably stood on its own in Heathen times (i.e.
          > Snorri was wrong, three were four not three), wheat
          > was not extensively grown until the Middle Ages, so
          > Hlafmaest would have served no purpose (even then the
          > Icelandic Althing did meet then, and there is some
          > evidence it was celebrated by the Anglo-Saxons),
          > Harvest and Winter Nights may have been the same holy
          > tide, and Yule is indisputable. So if we are going by
          > the Lore, only Yule is a definite. The only holy tide
          > with nearly no evidence is the Feb. date.

          I think this kind of replication stems from the facts that 1) the timing
          of feasts varied because of local climatic and agricultural conditions
          and 2) people all used their own names for the festivals. However,
          Winternights, Yule, and Spring are quite well-attested in the
          Scandinavian sources (i.e., they are mentioned in various sagas, not
          just Snorri), so I would call them "definite" according to the lore. I
          tend to view many of the other festivals as regional variants, and IMO
          the evidence is solid that heathens generally celebrated:

          -A Big Autumn Festival
          -Yule
          -A Spring Fling
          -Maybe Midsummer

          along with local holidays of more restricted significance.

          So, I agree with you when you suggest:

          > acknowledging the lore mentions only three with
          > evidence for four.

          but contest that

          > we
          > would still be best off mentioning the eight

          because:

          1) once you get beyond the basic Three Plus One, there's no reason to
          favor eight over any other number;

          2) most people in fact have blots every month, so in modern practice 12
          makes more sense than 8;

          3) there's very little consistency between groups concerning which
          non-major holidays are celebrated; and

          4) I've never run across anyone who actually uses any of the published
          lists of eight as written.

          In other words, I think the Beginner's Course should reflect 1) what's
          in the lore and 2) what modern heathens actually do (in enough of its
          variety to give an indication of how diverse it is). I see little
          benefit to showing beginners neat systems that various people have
          proposed but that have never really caught on.

          Wassail,

          Groa

          Ann Groa Sheffield
          Medoburg Kindred
          www.medoburg.org
        • Kadlin Waltheofsdottir
          First of all, I want to say that the Ealdriht s Holy Tides page is very nice, and I can t wait to read Groa s proposed article. I guess I can prove that I m
          Message 4 of 7 , Oct 30, 2000
            First of all, I want to say that the Ealdriht's "Holy Tides" page
            is very nice, and I can't wait to read Groa's proposed article.

            I guess I can prove that I'm really a "beginner" because I had
            no idea that suggesting a list of holidays would spark this kind of
            discussion! When I made my suggestion, I was thinking of adding
            something very brief, just stating what the major holidays are,
            something that would print out in one page. We have to remember, the
            people who are going to be looking at this page don't necessarily
            know what Asatru/Heathenism is. I'd put down that Yule (and
            associated holy days) is the most important, and then Eostre anbd
            Winter Nights as the next two important holidays. The others could
            be touched on more briefly, or even left unmentioned. (i.e. the page
            could just say, "the three most important holidays in Heathenism
            are . . ." which would leave open the idea that there are five or
            nine or whatever number more holidays without saying what they are.)

            Maybe there could be a link to an article or articles with more
            detail lower down in the outline, in the Blot section?

            What do you think?

            --Kadlin
          • Swain Wodening
            Wassail Ann! The only reason I suggested eight is that seems what most, at least that I have been in contact with, celebrate. As for Celtic and A-S feast days
            Message 5 of 7 , Oct 30, 2000
              Wassail Ann!

              The only reason I suggested eight is that seems what most, at least that I have
              been in contact with, celebrate. As for Celtic and A-S feast days merging,
              while I have seen evidence cited for that, with the exception of river names,
              there seems to have been little effect of the Celts on the English language.
              Therefore it seems to be stretching it to suggest that holy tides blended. Esp.
              when you consider the Celts were Christianized by the time of the invasion. If
              anything, it may be that when the Danes came they continued celebrating Eostre
              nearer May 1st, while the Anglo-Saxons had already been converted and the
              date fixed for them by the church. If the Danes even HAD it at that date. It is
              difficult for me even looking at the Old Norse sources to tell weather they meant
              the beginnning of summer or Mid-summer as the date of that holy tide. The
              same could be true of Harvest and Winter Fulleth. Although it is known the
              Saxons in England had perhaps an additional holy tide to celebrate annunally a
              victory over the Thurgundians.

              Perhaps we would be best off presenting ALL the modern variations. I did this
              on the AE site, but the piece really is not extensive enough. And of course the
              Haligwaerstow site is more extensive but only has the eight drawn from
              Medieval practices. Maybe this is because I am leary of most modern Asatru
              additions. I am not sure. Your article probably would make a good addition
              none the less! Or I could add the modern holy tides from the AE site to the
              other site's descriptions. Or maybe someone else knows of a good site.

              Frith!
              Swain

              On 30 Oct 2000, at 14:11, Ann Sheffield wrote:

              >
              >
              > Berry Canote wrote:
              >
              > >
              > > I am not so certain that the idea of eight comes from
              > > the Wiccan practice. As I said all of the ones I can
              > > think of come from Medieval celebrations of which we
              > > have no idea whether or not they were celebrated in
              > > Heathen times.
              >
              > Ronald Hutton makes a convincing case that these medieval celebrations,
              > at least in England, were a blend of Celtic and Teutonic holidays
              > modified by later (i.e., Christian) developments. In other words, I see
              > the sequence as:
              >
              > - Celtic practice and A-S practice co-exist in England with unknown
              > degrees of mixing. Elsewhere (e.g., Ireland, Scandinavia) the practices
              > remain more separate, which is how it's now possible to figure out that
              > the cross-quarter days are originally Celtic and Winternights etc. are
              > Teutonic.
              >
              > -Christianity appropriates whatever pagan holidays are locally popular
              > and/or conveniently match up with a Christian holiday.
              >
              > -Folk-customs develop and evolve - they combine surviving pagan elements
              > that have been given Christian significance, purely Christian additions,
              > and innovations by local populations.
              >
              > -Wicca (along with anthropologists and folklorists at one time, but they
              > have since taken a less simple view of things) sees the pattern of
              > (largely British) folk-customs and infers a "Pagan Wheel of the Year"
              > that never existed in pre-Christian times.
              >
              > > The problem is more one of
              > > reduplication of the same holy tides by us moderns
              > > than it is borrowing from the Wiccans if anything.
              > > Walburges may be a duplication of Eostre, Midsummer
              > > probably stood on its own in Heathen times (i.e.
              > > Snorri was wrong, three were four not three), wheat
              > > was not extensively grown until the Middle Ages, so
              > > Hlafmaest would have served no purpose (even then the
              > > Icelandic Althing did meet then, and there is some
              > > evidence it was celebrated by the Anglo-Saxons),
              > > Harvest and Winter Nights may have been the same holy
              > > tide, and Yule is indisputable. So if we are going by
              > > the Lore, only Yule is a definite. The only holy tide
              > > with nearly no evidence is the Feb. date.
              >
              > I think this kind of replication stems from the facts that 1) the timing
              > of feasts varied because of local climatic and agricultural conditions
              > and 2) people all used their own names for the festivals. However,
              > Winternights, Yule, and Spring are quite well-attested in the
              > Scandinavian sources (i.e., they are mentioned in various sagas, not
              > just Snorri), so I would call them "definite" according to the lore. I
              > tend to view many of the other festivals as regional variants, and IMO
              > the evidence is solid that heathens generally celebrated:
              >
              > -A Big Autumn Festival
              > -Yule
              > -A Spring Fling
              > -Maybe Midsummer
              >
              > along with local holidays of more restricted significance.
              >
              > So, I agree with you when you suggest:
              >
              > > acknowledging the lore mentions only three with
              > > evidence for four.
              >
              > but contest that
              >
              > > we
              > > would still be best off mentioning the eight
              >
              > because:
              >
              > 1) once you get beyond the basic Three Plus One, there's no reason to
              > favor eight over any other number;
              >
              > 2) most people in fact have blots every month, so in modern practice 12
              > makes more sense than 8;
              >
              > 3) there's very little consistency between groups concerning which
              > non-major holidays are celebrated; and
              >
              > 4) I've never run across anyone who actually uses any of the published
              > lists of eight as written.
              >
              > In other words, I think the Beginner's Course should reflect 1) what's
              > in the lore and 2) what modern heathens actually do (in enough of its
              > variety to give an indication of how diverse it is). I see little
              > benefit to showing beginners neat systems that various people have
              > proposed but that have never really caught on.
              >
              > Wassail,
              >
              > Groa
              >
              > Ann Groa Sheffield
              > Medoburg Kindred
              > www.medoburg.org
              >
              > To unsubscribe from this group, send an email to:
              > Asatru-U-unsubscribe@egroups.com
              >
              >


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              http://www.metalprovider.com/dosenhof/
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            • Manny Olds
              On Mon, 30 Oct 2000, Swain Wodening wrote: ) Perhaps we would be best off presenting ALL the modern variations. Gadzooks, no! Every group I have encountered
              Message 6 of 7 , Oct 31, 2000
                On Mon, 30 Oct 2000, Swain Wodening wrote:

                ) Perhaps we would be best off presenting ALL the modern variations.

                Gadzooks, no! Every group I have encountered runs a different calendar of
                holidays.

                I think the standard "(a) Lore says <whatever>; (b) Modern practice
                varies; (c) Here are some of the buzzwords you are most likely to stumble
                across" approach is best here, too. A pointer to one site that covers the
                main holiday names would probably meet (c) except for base-language
                variations.


                Manny Olds <oldsma@...> of Riverdale Park, Maryland, USA

                Then said High One: "It would take a vast amount of knowledge to cover
                them all, but it is swiftest to say, that most of these names have been
                given (to him) because the many different nations speaking different
                tongues in the world all wanted to change his name into their own tongue
                in order to address and pray (to him) for themselves."
                -- Snorra Edda, Gylfaginning, XXXII
              • Swain Wodening
                ... Wassail! Manny, I think that would work. As long as we can give the ones they are most likely to encounter I think there is no harm. Frith! Swain ...
                Message 7 of 7 , Oct 31, 2000
                  On 31 Oct 2000, at 7:02, Manny Olds wrote:

                  > On Mon, 30 Oct 2000, Swain Wodening wrote:
                  >
                  > ) Perhaps we would be best off presenting ALL the modern variations.
                  >
                  > Gadzooks, no! Every group I have encountered runs a different calendar of
                  > holidays.
                  >
                  > I think the standard "(a) Lore says <whatever>; (b) Modern practice
                  > varies; (c) Here are some of the buzzwords you are most likely to stumble
                  > across" approach is best here, too. A pointer to one site that covers the
                  > main holiday names would probably meet (c) except for base-language
                  > variations.
                  >
                  >
                  > Manny Olds <oldsma@...> of Riverdale Park, Maryland, USA
                  >

                  Wassail!

                  Manny, I think that would work. As long as we can give the ones they are most
                  likely to encounter I think there is no harm.

                  Frith!
                  Swain
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                  Dosenhof Wodenson - Music for Asatru
                  http://www.metalprovider.com/dosenhof/
                  ----------------------------------------------------------------------
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