The Longest Nights: Feasting, Celebrations, and Merriment in the Depths of Winter

Introduction

As I sit in our local coffee house looking out the window at the fresh snow that we got a couple days ago, I am appreciative of the warm cup of coffee I am drinking and the cozy atmosphere. The place is also decorated for the upcoming Christmas season with lights, evergreen garlands, and reindeer imagery adding to that sense of coziness. The Christmas season has always been my favorite holiday season. With the Christmas lights, food, and presents, it reminds me of lefse, sandbakkels (Norwegian sugar cookies) and my dad’s pipe tobacco. Going through this article was good and it was also a bit of an eye opener in some ways. Also, there are elements that came up in my research that I will have to go deeper into at some point. Regardless I hope that readers find the information at least interesting while they cozy up under a warm blanket to keep the cold at bay.

European Winter Traditions

In the articles I have written up to this point, I started with the Scottish and Irish traditions in the British Isles, then moved to the Welsh traditions, and then from there I continue to the main continent. However with this article I am going to shift gears and start with the northern European and Norse traditions. the reason for this is that these cultural customs have influenced the winter festivals across northern Europe and somewhat here in the Upper Midwest. Because of that, it makes sense just to start there…..

With that being said, in the northern regions of Europe, festivals in what is now December and January seem to focus on feasting, drinking, and general celebrations. When looking at the Norse sagas and early folklore, there appears to be two festivals mentioned among the Norse (and in extension Icelandic) people around this time of year. The first one is called Jól or Jólablót (Yule in modern English). Jól was a festival that appeared to have been celebrated during the month of Hrútmánuður (ram month: roughly mid-December to early January, although some information suggest that the date changed during the reign of the Norwegian king, Hákon the Good) and consisted of three days of feasting, LOTS of drinking, and the swearing of oaths. Most of the information regarding the old Norse practices of Jól comes from historical sagas such as the Hákonar saga, the Hervarar saga, and the Sturlaugs saga. From what they tell us, large amounts of drinking were expected along with the feasting, to the point where one might get in trouble if they did not drink enough. They also tell us that horse meat seemed to have had a ritual importance during the feasting which suggest the sacrifices of horse to the gods. As for oaths, any oath spoken during the Jólablót was held to a higher level of importance than other times of the year. According to the sagas, they would bring a boar into the dining hall, possibly as a sacrificial feast, and the men would swear oaths while placing their hand on it. Nothing is directly mentioned as to why a boar was used, but it might have had sacred significance to one of the deities called upon at the feast which I will get more into later in this article. [1,2] The second holiday that seems to be more from early folklore that was celebrated this time of year is the festival of Þórrablót. Þórrablót is at the beginning of the month of Þórri (roughly late January to early February) and according to early Icelandic folklore, it is in honor of a legendary figure named Þórra who was famous for making sacrifices this time of year. The story of Þórra is connected to the holiday of Góablót, which takes place in the beginning of February and the two almost seem to be two halves of the same festivities, so I will go more into both of these festivals in my next article. However, Þórrablót seems to have been a sacrificial midwinter festival celebrated in Iceland in ancient times. It was outlawed during the Christianization of Iceland but was resurrected in the 19th century as a midwinter celebration. Today Þórrablót is celebrated on January 19th (the 13th week of winter) and includes feasting, drinking, singing traditional songs, dancing, games, and storytelling until the early hours of the morning. [1,3]

As we now move to the British Isles, culturally what we see is that festivals in December and January did not seem to have major importance. There seems to be no real references to holidays this time of year in Ireland, except for areas that seem to have major cultural influence by the Scottish. As for the Scottish, other than later Christmas celebrations (referred to as Nollaig), we see the festival of Hogmanay, which today is celebrated on December 31st. Historically, Hogmanay included saining (purification rites), practices of divination, feasting, drinking, guising (similar to dressing up in Halloween costumes), mummer dancers, and games. The earliest references to Hogmanay in Scotland seem to be from 1603 CE with a man being accused of “singing and hagmonayis’ at New Year“. It is believed that the festival was imported into Scotland during the 1500s by way of the French and that the word Hogmanay comes from the French word hoginane which means ‘gala day’. By the time Scotland came under the influence of the Protestant Reformation, Hogmanay was publicized by the Protestant Church as an alternative to the celebrations of Christmas and the festivities associated with it. However, before the 1500s, there is little evidence of any major celebrations in Scotland other than some historical references to Jól celebrations in areas where Vikings settled or had influence. [4]

As we move further south to Wales and Southern Britain, we see a distinct difference in how celebrations this time of year are celebrated and most of our information is from the 1800s and forward. When looking at the earliest writings regarding Britain and the area known as Wales, which come from late Roman writers and the Anglo-Saxon Chronicles written before 1000 CE, they talk a lot about social, political, and military topics. Writings regarding religious festivals and folklore seem to focus more on Christian followers than non-Christians, but we can infer some information based on these references. We also have information about some Romano-British deities associated with various locations in Britain such as Sulis and Brigantiâ from Roman writers. Some religious practices can be inferred bases on the few historical references we have, physical evidence of temple spaces, and our knowledge of Roman religion, but I do admit that as a Gaulish polytheist, Britain is not a focus region regarding my reconstructions, so I’m sure that my understanding of religious activity in that region during the Post-Roman and Anglo-Saxon periods is spotty at best…… [5] Most of what I have seen comes from the recordings of local folk customs in Britain, Wales, and Cornwall in the 1800s as part of an effort to promote modern nationalistic ideologies. Despite this though, there are some interesting customs from around this time of year in southern Wales. The most famous tradition is that of the Mari Lwyd, which involves a decorated horse skull with ribbons and other Christmas style decorations. This decorated horse skull would then be paraded through local towns with a group of people who would go door-to-door, singing songs and asking riddles. According to local customs, if they gain entrance into the house, the home will have prosperity for the year. The origin of this festival practice is debated. Some people believe that it comes from older pagan traditions with the horse skull representing the Welsh goddess Rhiannon and her traveling from Annywn to bless the people in the time of cold. Others believe that it was inspired from a French Christian festival that originated in the 13th century called the Feast of Asses. According to the stories, a pregnant horse was removed from the stables where Jesus Christ was born on the night of the nativity and the horse then wandered from place to place looking for a new place to rest. In other cases, the horse or donkey also represented the donkey Jesus’s mother Mary rode in Bethlehem while their family was looking for a place to stay before Jesus’s birth. [6, 7]

At this point, I will shift our focus back to the main continent. When looking at holidays on the mainland Europe in December and January, it is hard to talk about festivals without bringing up Krampus and Frau Perchta from the Alpine region…….

Krampus is a folklore figure that comes from the German and Austrian regions in the Alps. The word Krampus is from the German word Krampen, which means “claw.” The origin of festivities with Krampus, which is called Krampusnacht (Krampus Night; celebrated the night of December 5th) is unknown, but it seems to be associated with the The Feast of St. Nicholas which is celebrated in some parts of Europe on on December 6. The earliest record we have involving celebrations with Alpine best men are from the 11th century CE where horned devils first seem to appear in medieval plays and in the 12th century CE, the Catholic Church ban festivals of Krampusnacht throughout the region. [8] Many speculate that the Alpine beast men and Krampus are of pre-Christian origin and was assimilated into the local Christian traditions in the Middle Ages. There is not a lot of evidence on this, one way or another, but we do find some linguistic evidence that would support this idea within the Gaulish language. Before German tribes came down to dominate the Alpine region, the area was home and the birthplace of the Hallstatt and La Tène Celtic cultures. We know that by the time the Caesar came up through the region on his campaigns, this part of the Alpine region was occupied by the Helvetti, Aedui, Sequani, Nori, and Boii Celtic tribes. From the Gaulish language, we have the word Dusios (DOO-zee-oos; plural Dusioi), which was mentioned in 1st-2nd century CE writings. The Dusios were described as satyr-like trickster beings who effected crops and when looking at the information we have of the Dusios, there appears to be similarities. [9]

Frau Perchta is a folklore figure found in the Germany, Austria, and Switzerland Alpine regions, along side with Krampus. Frau Perchta is also known locally as Berchta, Bertha, and Spinnstubenfrau (spinning room lady) and is seen as a supernatural psychopomp figure who is associated with various aspects of Alpine folklore. Speculated as being the cousin of the Nordic goddess Frigga, Frau Perchta can manifest either as a beautiful young maiden or a crooked old hag with beak nose made of iron. Depending on how she shows herself, she can be a figure that kills lazy women and children, or she can be a figure that protects babies, women, and children. Either way, she is seen as a liminal being who controls fate and upholds cultural taboos. [10]

Finally, we are going to shift our attention to the Mediterranean regions, where we see various minor festivals and one major one that stands out. This major festival among the Romans was Saturnalia (Festival of Saturn, celebrated on December 17th). Saturnalia was originally a harvest festival celebrated at the end of the harvest season (much like Thanksgiving in the US today) and over time it became one of the most celebrated festivals within the Roman Empire. At it’s height, Saturnalia included a week long celebration of eating, drinking, music, dancing, visits friends, and the presentation of gifts, particularly wax candles to signify the returning light. It is also on this day that religious rituals were performed to the god Saturn/Kronos in the Temple of Saturn, the oldest temples recorded by the pontiffs in Rome. The temple went through a rededication on Saturnalia and the woolen bonds, which tied the feet of the ivory idol, were loosened on that day to symbolize the liberation of the god and the people from restraints. After the sacrifice at the temple, there was a public feast as well as a lectisternium (a practice where the idol is placed as if in attendance). [11] Among the various minor festivals this time of year, there was also Bona Dea (minor deity celebrated on December 3rd), the Consualia (in honor of Consus, god of the granary, on December 15th), the Opalia (in honor of Ops, goddess of abundance, celebrated during Saturnalia), the Angeronalia (minor deity honored on the winter solstice), the Larentalia (Memorial celebration to the goddess Acca Larentia, mother of the Lares on December 23rd), Dies Natalis Invicti (honoring the rebirth of the Roman sun god, Sol Invictus on December 25th), and several others. All of these appear to continue the idea of the celebration of the harvest, the abundance of the community, and the memory of local ancestors. Only in one case, Dies Natalis Invicti, do we have the celebration of the rebirth of the sun. [12]

When we look at the Greeks and festivals in what is known today as December and January (Greeks followed a lunar calendar, so dates in regard to current calendars shift from year to year), we do not see any major holidays. The few regional holidays we do see include The Poseidea, which took place in the Athenian month of Poseideōn (Ποσειδεών) (roughly December/January) honored Poseidon, The Haloa, which was a secret rite for women in honor of Demeter and Dionysus, The Lenaia, and The Gamelia. The next major festival would have been The Anthesteria, which took place in the month of Anthestēriōn (Ἀνθεστηριών) (roughly February/March) and I will be covering in my next article. [13]

Christmas in the Upper Midwest

Looking at winter festivals in the Upper Midwest, they usually center around the various cultural groups that have settled within the region, but none are as widespread and popular as Christmas. We see the buildup of the Christmas season start in early November and quickly ending at the beginning of January because the Christmas season ends. We do see some of this being extended into January by a few weeks in some areas due to either the active efforts of individuals who were really excited by the Christmas season and want to keep the festivities going past the New Year or from people with various ethnic backgrounds who would normally have celebrations into the beginning of January. The buildup of the Christmas season, depending on where you are at, can be so intense that for many people, it leaves a sense of burn out and depression that can last through January and into February. [14] Our modern Christmas festivities in the Upper Midwest originated with French and British immigrants in the 1800s, and then was later added to by German immigrants into the region. Historically in the United States as well as in various countries in Europe, Christmas was seen as a carnival celebration with drinking, feasting, cross dressing, and gala costumes. Protestants and Puritans, who had powerful influence among the early colonies in the Americas, saw the holiday as being sinful and influenced by earlier pagan festivals like Saturnalia. Christmas was outlawed in some cities in the eastern part of the United States, including Boston, and it did not really start to become popular in the United States until the mid 1800s. What spurred the change in the interest of Christmas was that during the early 1800s, there was social class conflict in the United States due to high unemployment rates and gang rioting in major cities. These gangs would use the carnival atmosphere of Christmas to vent their frustration at the wealthy, which included property damage and harassment. As part of the efforts to bring peace to these various disillusioned social classes, authorities and people in the upper-class in major metropolitan areas decided to rebrand Christmas into a family friendly event that would bring people together, similar to what we see with the changes to Halloween in the Americas. It was also around this time that The Christmas Carol by Charles Dickenson and The Sketchbook of Geoffrey Crayon, gent. by Washington Irving (a series of stories about the celebration of Christmas in an English manor house) came out. These books set the stage for the holiday rebranding in the United States as a holiday that should be a peaceful, warm-hearted, and brings groups together no matter what their wealth or social status is instead of a festive Mardi Gras styled holiday. [15,16]

This marketing campaign worked so well that Christmas’s popularity rapidly expanded across the country in the early 1900s. Companies like Coca-Cola got on the bandwagon and through their product marketing campaigns, repackaged many festival elements that had been associated with Christmas, including several German and Scandinavian decorative imagery associated with Jól and the idea of Santa Clause. This changing the face of Christmas in the United States, making it a uniquely American experience. Today, Christmas in the Upper Midwest is a biproduct of this process and many people, whether they are religious or not, see the holiday as a time for families to come together and celebrate peace and goodwill (even though the need for peace was due to capitalistic social-economic disparities, but I digress……) [17]

Reflections and Speculations

If I had to pick one theme among all the holidays I read about for the article, it would be the focus of feasting and celebration this time of year. The reason for the feasting varied from region to region, and in some cases like the Alpine regions, had its own unique twists. But no matter where you look in Europe, as well as the Americas, this is the time of year that people come together to celebrate whatever it is they feel like celebrating. Given that, there were some interesting things that came up that I feel like I want to address:

  • Jól as a Norse Sovereignty Festival?: As I was reading through the description of traditional Norse Jól celebrations, the combination of feasting/drinking, swearing of oaths on a boar, and the sacrifice of horse meat, especially as a Gaulish Polytheist, screamed to me that Jól was a sovereignty festival. If Jól would have been a Gaulish festival and not a Norse one, I would have sworn that it was a festival dedicated to Lugus (Gaulish deity of oaths and rulership, associated with the wandering warbands). The only detailed description of a Jól festival we have is from the Hákonar saga, where they stated that Odin, Freyr, and Njörðr were honored. Given the imagery found in the stories and the specific deities attested in the sagas, in my reflection I want to take a moment and talk about the deity Freyr and his relationship with the holiday. Freyr (name means “Lord”) was a member of the Vanir tribe of Norse deities and based on what we see in historical records and archeological finds, he also seems to be one of the most popular and venerated deities among the Germanic and Norse people, especially within Sweden where he is said to have been the ancestor of the Swedish line of kings. He is a deity associated with rulers, horse, boars, sunlight, weather, wealth, sexual and ecological fertility, bountiful harvests, abundance, benevolence, and peace. He is the son of the Norse god Njörðr and sister of Freya, Odin’s wife. There are several descriptions of him among various sagas and through archeological evidence. The Uppsala Temple in Gamla Uppsala, Sweden was said to have been his place of dwelling in Scandinavia and great sacrifices were made to him there. According to the sagas, once a year, they would take the idol of Freyr out of the temple and parade it around the local communities on a horse drawn wagon or chariot, bringing peace, abundance, and prosperity to the land. His temple also was taken care of by priestesses who were said to have been married to the god, dedicated only to him and no weapons or bloodshed would be tolerated within his holy place. Among the nine realms in Norse cosmology, he is also said to be lord of the realm of Alfheim, home of the elves. [18, 19] After reading though how the ancient Norse celebrated Jól and seeing what Freyr was associated with, the similarities and connection to both seemed obvious. Freyr would have been the god of oaths that the men swore by, especially with placing their hand on the sacrificial boar and the horse sacrifices. Not that Odin and Njörðr were not important to the festival, but the central role of Freyr seems clear.
  • Mari Lwyd: Use of Folklore and Understanding Ancient Paganism: So, I am just going to come out and say it…….. I do not believe that the Welsh Mari Lwyd folk custom or any folk custom from the 1800s has anything to do with ancient pagan traditions and most modern people who feel that they are, are going by their basic appearance or are inspired by some form of cultural/ancestral heritage they feel connected to. The reason for this opinion is that I have been researching the history of magic and superstition within Europe for my Pagan/Polytheistic study courses and when you look at the history along with historical events in European society, there are some distinct cultural shifts over the centuries that come up. In addition to this, when you cross compare ancient Indo-European traditions, there are practices and customs that come up again and again. The parading of idols within the community (as I mentioned above with the idols of Freyr) is common among Indo-European religions, but these were religious relics believed to either hold the power of a god or was imbodied by the god themselves. We do not see this with the Mari Lwyd tradition. Many people within the pagan community are inspired by modern folklore and like to use it to bring life to many of their practices. However, if you want genuine folk practices that are associated with actual polytheistic practices and customs, you need to look at the folk practices in Europe before 1000 CE and cross compare practices with living Indo-European traditions that are still polytheistic for reference. In addition to this, because of political and cultural changes that were occurring in Europe in the Early Modern Era, our understanding of folklore during that time was highly flavored by modern nationalistic ideologies. In many cases, the information collected during the 1800s and early 1900s were altered to promote modern nationalism. A good example of this is actually from Wales with the Antiquarian and Welsh nationalist, Iolo Morganwg. Iolo, who was working on collecting and researching Medieval Welsh manuscripts in the 1800s, did not think that the Medieval heroic tales from Wales fit into the new Welsh national identity they were working to forge. In response to this, he unilaterally decided to alter manuscripts and write forgeries to fit his nationalistic views and pass then off as genuine. Modern scholars for the most part have been able to separate the authentic manuscripts from the forgeries, but with some of his work (even today), they have a hard time telling the difference. Also, some information suggest that Iolo might have destroyed some ancient work in his process of “translations”. [20] My point is, the cultural changes that happened during the Early Modern Era, including the birth of modern nationalism as well as the Protestant Reformation, created a very different worldview then what our polytheistic ancestors had and there are many things we take for granted that our ancestors would have been very confused by. To assume that something looks like it is pagan in origin, a practice propagated by Protestants and Puritans to restructure the Christian world, doesn’t mean it is. To assume otherwise, you run into the problem of misrepresenting modern living cultures and potentially participating in the cultural appropriation of marginalized groups.
  • Christmas and Capitalism (ugh……): As I stated in the introduction, Christmas was one of my favorite holidays growing up. Perhaps it was because my mother tried to make such a big deal about it (it was her favorite holiday too) with the tree and the lights. She loved the holiday so much, that she refused to take the holiday decorations down until the end of January because she felt that January was “so depressing…”. There were many nights where I remember the winter wind blowing outside our house and I went down to the living room because I could not sleep. When I got there, the tree lights (which remained on all day and night) gave the whole room a dim colorful glow and would sit in the glow of the tree, wrapped up in a blanket, until I fell back to sleep. Even after I made the decision not to be Christian like the rest of my family (I did not have an issue with Christianity, I just had to be honest and acknowledge that it was not the path for me), Christmas held a special place in my heart as a time of family, community, and being surrounded by all the greenery decorations to help keep the cold a bay. Learning about the historical events that made the modern festivities of Christmas what they are, gave me mixed feelings. I guess I have to tip my hat to the marketing people that made it possible. Given how popular it is today, they completed what they set out to do. On the flip side though, the fact that it was used as a form of crowd control for frustrated and desperate people who were poor (really brings to life the environment presented by the story of The Christmas Carol) and who wanted to have enough money to feed their families rather than working to make necessary social changes to improve economic disparity is just, ugh…………. I think I am going to have to do more research to the relationship Christmas has had with the United States in relation to social and economic issues through the 20th century before I make any concluding decisions on how I feel about the holiday. Although, just throwing this out there….. I think it is funny that the only people in history who successfully “Canceled Christmas” were Christians who thought that it wasn’t Christian enough…….
Bringing it all Together

So as a modern polytheist, here are some take aways I got from my research:

  1. Coming together in the winter season for feasting and celebration was not only common, but everywhere. Get together with your community and celebrate with lots of food, drinking, and merriment. Also, the exchange of gifts was seen in pagan sources. Don’t feel like you cannot do this.
  2. If you want to celebrate something that is authentic to our pagan ancestors and you want to use folklore to help flush out your customs, look to writings on folklore before 1000 CE (depending on region) for commonalities and inspiration. If something from modern folk practices is inspiring to you and it is something that your community wants, that is fine (you do you), but understand that these customs, no matter how pagan they look, are Christian and you need to be honest about where they are coming from and why you are using them.
  3. Many of the festivities this time of year seem to revolve around a specific deity who is associated with fertility, abundance, and merriment (examples include Saturn in Rome and Frey in Norse regions). Look to your local community religious traditions to see who fits this role and use whatever methods you use for spirit work or divination to narrow down who would be the best fit to invite into the celebrations. Also, if you are a Heathen and you want to keep in line with the idea of the modern Christmas spirit but also honor the older Heathen ways, you might want to look at Freyr as the central deity of the occasion. He is not Santa Clause but given the focus of benevolence and peace within his profile (not to mention that he is lord of the realm of the elves), honoring him seems like it would be an easy transition for many people.
  4. Whatever celebrations you do has to fit your community. If you have a lot of kids, having a family friendly celebration is important. If your community doesn’t have kids and it is mostly adults, you might want to focus more on a Mardi Gras type celebration. Above all things, it has to speak to your community, otherwise it will not last, and people will not see the point in it. Also, it is better to make something new and meaningful then it is to stick to something traditional that has become irrelevant.
  5. Lastly, critics are going to give us a hard time with what we choose to do, no matter what. We are going to be accused of stealing/borrowing practices because we choose to honor a particular deity associated with a particular culture. We are also going to be criticized by the same people for not honoring a specific deity the same way they do it and/or doing it wrong if we do it our way instead of theirs (see the contradiction here…..). Same thing if a particular practice happens to look like traditions that other people are doing, even though they may have no connection. Make sure to know why you are doing what you are doing. And remember, just because something looks the same, doesn’t mean that it is.

With that last point, I want to stress this: If you believe that the gods are real and that they have agency, you cannot take the position that only people in certain cultures or backgrounds have the right to worship them or have access to them. To do otherwise is to assume that the gods are nothing more than cultural property. Whatever practices that your culture has developed to involve and honor a specific deity can be claimed as your own, but to treat the gods in the same manner is a rejection of their legitimacy in the world. They are not our pets, nor our slaves…. We come to them in honor and celebration, not the other way around. Given that the gods and spirits have their own agency, similarities between different groups are going to develop. A good example of this is from the Roman Empire with the religious following of Isis, who had temples across the empire and into Germany. Her following in Egypt was different then it was in Gaul, but there were many similarities as well (maybe I should write an article on religious synchronism at some point to go deeper into this).

The last point I will bring up is that as a Gaulish polytheist, the only attested festival we have this time of year regarding Gaulish culture is Eponâlia on December 18th. Eponâlia is a festival dedicated to the Gaulish deity Eponâ. Other than the name and the date on a fragment of one ritual calendar in the Caspian region of what is now northern Italy, we have little to no information about the festival. What we can assume though looking at other Indo-European festivals directly associated with deities in the region is that this was a day that the temples and shrines probably were cleaned, the idols were rededicated and presented to the public (possibly with a parade around the local community by a horse drawn carriage/wagon) and that there were celebrations and feasting. Also, things associated with the deity had special importance on this day, which in this case would be horses, roses, and the affirmation of the sovereignty of the people. Given that some of the titles we have regarding Eponâ include August Goddess Eponâ and Eponâ Regina, the emphases of her position as a goddess and queen become apparent. And lastly, just because I thought this was interesting, I want to bring up that in the Upper Midwest in the United States, specifically on Mackinac Island in Michigan, Eponâ seems to be honored on June 14th-16th at the local Lilac Festival, which includes a feast at the Mission Hill Stables and the Epona and Barkus Parade. I an certainly interested and I have never personally been there, but it is roughly an 8-hour drive for me, so I might make the trip in the next year or two assuming COVID restrictions and weather are permitting to see what it is about. [21, 22]

So to those reading this article, I hope everyone has a safe and festive Holiday Season, no matter which holiday you celebrate. May the light of your fires and the warmth of you company keep the cold and the darkness at bay, until the days become long again, and the warmth of the sun returns………

Resources
  1. Crawford, Jackson. “Norse Months and Holidays” YouTube, 4, March 2020: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Cb0xAE6oPNg&t=949s
  2. Crawford, Jackson. “Jól (Yule): The Norse Winter Holiday” YouTube, 17, December 2017: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=UUloIBXFOQE
  3. Editor. “Thorrablot” Visit Iceland.com: https://www.iceland.is/the-big-picture/people-society/traditions/thorrablot/
  4. Loughlin, Annie. “Yule/Hogmanay – Part One” Tairis: A Gaelic Polytheist Website: http://www.tairis.co.uk/festivals/yulehogmanay-part-1/
  5. Hartogs, Jörgen. “Anglo-Saxons” History, Archeology, folklore, and so on: https://historyandsoon.wordpress.com/2016/12/01/anglo-saxons/
  6. Rogers, Jude. “The Mari Lwyd” This is Wales: https://www.wales.com/about/culture/mari-lwyd
  7. Editor. “Feast of Asses” Encyclopedia.com; https://www.encyclopedia.com/religion/encyclopedias-almanacs-transcripts-and-maps/feast-asses
  8. Lundin, Elizabeth. “Krampusnacht: What Is It, and How Did it Start?” History Things: https://historythings.com/krampusnacht-what-is-it-and-how-did-it-start/
  9. Taranicnos, Artocatos. “The Dusioi” Bessus Nouiogalationhttps://nouiogalatis.org/2020/06/21/the-dusioi/
  10. Karenann. “What is Frau Perchta? Goddess or Belly-Slitter?” German Girl in America: https://germangirlinamerica.com/what-is-frau-perchta-goddess-or-belly-slitter/
  11. Editor. “Saturnalia” Encyclopedia Romana: Rome, the Home of Empire and All Perfection: https://penelope.uchicago.edu/~grout/encyclopaedia_romana/calendar/saturnalia.html
  12. Sheldon, Natasha. “Roman December Festivals: Bona Dea, Consualia, Opalia, Angeronalia, and Larentalia” History and Archeology Online: Rediscovering the Past: https://historyandarchaeologyonline.com/roman-december-festivals-bona-dea-consualia-opalia-angeronalia-and-larentalia/
  13. Struck. Peter T. “Calendar of Greek Religious Festivals” Greek and Roman Mythology: https://www2.classics.upenn.edu/myth/php/hymns/index.php?page=calendar
  14. Casarella, Jennifer MD. “Holiday Depression and Stress” WebMD: https://www.webmd.com/depression/holiday-depression-stress
  15. Wachuta, Joshua. “Wisconsin’s Christmas Past” A Tree Left Standing: A Blog by Joshua Wachuta: https://atreeleftstanding.com/2008/12/24/wisconsins-christmas-past/
  16. Editors. “History of Christmas” History.com: https://www.history.com/topics/christmas/history-of-christmas
  17. Ivanecky, Elizabeth. “How Coca-Cola Created The Christmas We Know And Love Today” Study Breaks: https://studybreaks.com/culture/how-coca-cola-created-christmas/
  18. McCoy, Daniel. “FREYR” Norse Mythology for Smart People: https://norse-mythology.org/gods-and-creatures/the-vanir-gods-and-goddesses/freyr/
  19. Ocean Keltoi. “Yngvi-Freyr: Norse God of Rain, Sunlight, Death, and [REDACTED]” YouTube.com: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=N5norUmt7mE
  20. Hutton, Ronald. Blood & Mistletoe: The History of the Druids in Britain New Haven: Yale University Press, 2009
  21. Nantonos & Ceffyl. “Epona Inscriptions” EPONA.NET: A Scholarly Resource: https://www.epona.net/inscriptions.html
  22. Editor. “Lilac Festival Mackinac Island” Mackinac-Island-Insider-Tips.com: http://www.mackinac-island-insider-tips.com/lilac-festival-mackinac-island.html

Cover Picture: Feast #1; Koko_Thanksgiving_Overeating: https://vistapointe.net/feast.html

One thought on “The Longest Nights: Feasting, Celebrations, and Merriment in the Depths of Winter

  1. Pingback: The Awaking of the Land: Midwives, Beast Men, and Heralds of the Spring | Nemeton Dumnonantu

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