Tag Archives: Austria

Day 7: Holidays

Slowly but surely we’re chugging along with the 30 days of Paganism meme, and this is one of my favorite topics to talk about!!

I love personal calendars, especially when you start seeing how they evolve according to one’s environment and home culture. Mine is no exception, as it’s a blend of Pagan and Catholic traditions from the ancestral lands carried into the US. Due to my currently solitary nature, continuous research, and the fact that changes in life are prone to happening, my calendar is tentative rather than being hard and fast (despite having specific dates listed), and is not entirely religious in nature.

Winter

wordpress winter

  • Feast of the Dead (October 31-November 2)
    • A mixture of US Halloween festivities and the more solemn ancestor worship of European All Soul’s Day, where ghosts and spirits are awoken and the ancestors return. The growing season has officially ended.
    • Honors: Ancestors
  • Harvest Celebrations (Late November)
    • These are usually several family-oriented days (including US Thanksgiving) that center around gratitude for the last of the harvest. Usually by this point all the native plant species have gone dormant for the winter, and the migratory birds have past. Deer hunting season traditionally occurs this time as well.
    • Honors: Nagy Boldogasszony
  • Krampus Night/St. Nick’s Day (December 5-6)
    • A fun little Christmas holiday where the kids leave out their clean shoes in anticipation of some goodies from St. Nick. A holdover from family traditions.
  • Green Sunday (1st week of December)
  • Copper Sunday (2nd week of December)
  • Silver Sunday (3rd week of December)
  • Gold Sunday (4th week of December)
    • These Sundays are a holdover from Advent, as mini-celebrations in anticipation of Karascunt and the Rough Nights. Due to the names I also use the days to reference a corresponding Magyar deity (Copper – Hadúr, Silver – Szélkirály, Gold – Napkirály)
  • Karascunt (December 21/22)
    • Winter Solstice festival full of fire, drink, and merryment to celebrate Csodaszarvas carrying the Sun over the river to begin the year anew and overcome the darkness. First day of the Rough Nights. Spinning stops by this night.
    • Honors: Csodaszarvas
  • Bertchten Day (January 5-6)
    • This day ends the Rough Nights and the new year begins. The sun finally overcame the darkness and the light continues to grow in strength. Spinning chores resume. Also known as Twelfth Night (evening of Jan. 5)
    • Honors: Fra Berta/Lutzl (though she is also associated with all 12 of the Rough Nights)
  • Day of the Bear (February 2)
    • Midwinter celebration in anticipation of the season’s end. The Bear awakes and bring with it the first hints of life and hope in a time where patience and food stores are wearing thin. “Spring cleaning” and purification processes occurs at this time. Winter expulsion begins.
    • Honors: Szélkirály
  • Zöldágjárás (usually mid-late March)
    • First hints of life appears in the trees and shrubs, and the initial bits of greenery is brought inside to continue the purification process. Boughs of greenery are formed into arches and wreathes for women and children to dance under, and boys splash water on girls (purity and fertility rite, most likely). Birds are migrating back at this time.
  • Fruit-grafting day (March 25)
    • Fruiting tree branches that are starting to bud are grafted and hopefully successful. Several traditions regarding death and fertility surround this day as it is also the Catholic holiday of Mary’s conception of Jesus.
    • Honors: Nagy Boldogasszony
  • Walpurgis Night (April 30)
    • Winter expulsion ends, compelling the ghosts and ancestors back to sleep. Most migratory birds have returned and begun their breeding season.

Summer

wordpress summer

  • May Day (May 1)
    • Summer begins. The fields and markets are readied for the growing season.
  • May Crowning (May, usually mid-to-late May)
    • Fields are cleared and sown, and seedlings transplanted, as the risk of frost is gone by this time. First harvest occurs around this time (depending on what plants are growing). Leaves have returned to the trees. Flowers are offered to the Queen of May by young girls.
    • Honors: Nagy Boldogasszony
  • Szentiván-éj (June 24)
    • A summer solstice celebration of fire, successful crop growth, and remembering the ancestors. Peak growth and first major harvests are occurring around this time. Apples are served to the fire and to the graves.
    • Honors: Csodaszarvas
  • Goldenrod Days (late September-early October)
    • A completely made-up period surrounding the autumn equinox to mark Summer drawing to a close. The Goldenrod flowers are in their full, yellow bloom, as if they absorbed part of the sun and took away some of its vigor. Apples are harvested at this time, and the birds are undergoing their fall migration.
    • Honors: Volos/Zomok

*Deities and their associations here will be discussed further in later posts of this meme. Some associations are traditional, some are not. Those with / between two names refer to the same being.

**The inconsistency of the names is due to some English counterparts being too vague to be a useful label, so the source culture’s holiday words are used instead to refer to their specific traditions that I observe (i.e. “Karascunt” in place of “Winter Solstice”). Exception being Zöldágjárás since there is no English counterpart in existence.

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Being Heathen

It’s a term that can be seen throughout my posts, both in reference to myself and to the contemporary religious category. If you try to google it, you end up with a variety of definitions, ranging from the archaic to the racist, and many with conflicting viewpoints.

So what do I mean when I say I’m Heathen?

  • Worldview, traditions, and ideas are rooted in historical, archeological, folkloric, and linguistic evidence for pre-Christian cultures. Experimentation and UPG (Unverified Personal Gnosis) are individual, private, and secondary in “truthfulness”. Even then, the UPG should still be rooted in something factual rather than be completely made up or ripped from an unrelated topic or group.
  • Ancestor veneration is central to my personal practice, particularly of the female ones (known as the itis).
  • The home or hearth is the center of my universe so to speak, both in a literal and symbolic sense (the physical home and the friends/family symbolically allowed within it). Relative to the home are concentric circles extending outward from it; the further away one is from my “home” the less of a personal connection they have to me.
  • Deity veneration, with few exceptions, is a communal practice*, and patron deities are extremely rare. If one has a personal relationship with a deity, they are considered to be pledged to the deity, not patronized by them.
  • Local spirits can also venerated as gods and/or respected as neighbors and stewards (local meaning both those considered local to my ancestors as well as physically local to where I live).
  • Wihts (“beings”) have various levels of interactions and importance, with the general trend being the high gods at the top-level of importance (they are relevant to many people/rule over a large region/rule over a major function) and everything else is below (more localized to my area/my personal life). The high gods also have the least amount of interaction with me, while the lower tiers have more (i.e. the ancestors).
  • Celebrations are rooted in the seasons, holy days, and local community activities, rather than astronomical cycles.
  • World-accepting rather than world-rejecting. To put it bluntly, “what you see is what you get”, there is no guarantee of a pretty afterlife or chance of reincarnation to make up for this life, therefore I live as if they don’t exist at all.
  • Magic is the realm of certain few individuals and is meant to be practical in nature, rooted in the ancient drive to survive. It can be used to help or harm (often it can be both).
  • Actions make the person, and every action has consequences.
  • Luck is a serious matter, as it can be handed down unintentionally through generations and be modified by one’s own actions for better or for worse.

Keep in mind that this is a general framework based on Reconstructionist heathen ideas, and the generalities are only similarities I appear to share with other heathens. Where I deviate is my source material, as my personal heathen practice is rooted in the cultural traditions and beliefs from (primarily) Eastern Austria, Hungary, and (secondarily) Southern Poland (and their respective sources). Hence the reference to the Danube in the blog title/address and my uncommon mythological references (the Magyar gods instead of Scandinavian ones for example). The names for my “religion” can also be called ősi hit or firner situ (both translate into “old beliefs”/”old customs”).

*This is an ideal based on how it was done in the past; many heathens like myself are forced to go it alone and therefore unable to practice communal worship, even though we would like to.

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