Tolkien, artist

Happy Midwinter's Day

Today, the 13th of January, is traditionally known as Midwinter. It is supposedly the longest and coldest day of winter and winter's half-way point. Early Pagans took atock of their food stores around this time to determine their ability to survive the second half of the winter. If there was enough of a surplus, they would brew beer with the extra grain and mead with any extra honey, causing this to also be known as the Festival of Brewing (Irish).




The Featival of Midwinter was led by druids and accompanied by singing, dancing, feasting and storytelling. Bonfires were lit to encourage the return of the light and warmth of the sun. Light was then carried to all of the hearthfires where they would remain lit until Imbolc, coming in a few more weeks.



The ceremonies of the Festival of Brewing were celebrated in Ireland, but similar ceremonies and celebrations were also celebrated in the Norse lands, honoring Tiu, the ruler of the year. In Urnasch, Switzerland, the ceremonies included the nighttime clanging of bells throughout the streets to banish evil spirits for the coming year. So...



Today, wait until darkness, ritually cleanse yourself and your clothing, and take up a bell that you have sanctified. Go around each room of your house with your bell, open each window and door in turn and ring your bell, ordering any malign spirits to leave. Close the windows and doors and proceed to the next room, eventually going through each room of your house. Now, do the same thing virtually to your own brain - banish the thoughts of negativity and concentrate on the positive. Then raise a glass of beer or mead to the Celts for giving us such a marvelous reminder that winter will end eventually.
Traditionally "the longest and coldest day of winter and winter's half-way point"? I am quite confused, I have to say. It's been known for a very long time that winter solstice is the longest night and shortest day; even prehistoric people knew about solstices and equinoxes - it is enough to observe the sun, and they did it very carefully, because their lives depended on it. Also, it is very easy to calculate the middle between winter solstice and vernal equinox, and january 13th is far from the middle - it is only 23 days from the solstice.
So, perhaps today's day really is called Midwinter, but because of some other reasons? If a part of autumn is included in counting, then it makes some sense, but still it is not the shortest day and longest night.

Anyway, the last line sounds perfect. *grins*
I agree, Solstice is indeed the astronomical beginning of winter. But those of us who live in the snows know that the astronomical and the physical don't always match up. Winter actually starts earlier than Solstice and ends later than Equinox. I'm taking the research for this day from Llewellan, but I just found it interesting that there was such a thing as a Feast of Brewing (goddess bless the Irish - LOL). Personally, I think that the ancients needed any excuse for a party :D.

- Erulisse (one L)
Personally, I think that the ancients needed any excuse for a party.

*lol* Well, I guess that anyone, not just the ancients, gladly welcomes any excuse for a party. :D
This Celt could just do with a glass of mead right now!

I will settle for a glass of mulled wine after work, instead...

Although we have no tradition of any celebration at this time of year - oh apart from it being the old new year, of course, but that doesn't go back to our pre-Christian roots.
Oh, that sounds so good. Maybe I'll treat myself to a glass of port tonight after dinner.

- Erulisse (one L)
I thought it was a hoot, so I just had to share with my f-list friends. Happy Friday the 13th to you!

- Erulisse (one L)
I would like to do all that, but what would you do if you were in the South? =)
In the southern hemisphere, it would be mid-summer - the celebration would still include bells and a welcome of the good, a pushing out of the bad, but the actions of determining starvation levels, etc would not happen until another six months had passed. The closest holiday would be Lammas.

I recommend just celebrating wildly and happily - LOL.

- Erulisse (one L)
Possibly he means it 'feels' like the longest and coldest day of winter? That would make sense. The actual midpoint would be the solstice, when the year turns and the days grow longer and lighter though there is still the heart of winter's cold ahead. I don't know the Irish tradition, but in the Norse lands, brewing would be part of the Jul festivities. Still, any excuse for a party :D
Oh, I agree - any excuse for a party. But here in the northern climes, winter usually begins in October and extends until April. That would put today at just about the mid-point, so I can see where they come up with this day for mid-winter.

Now, off to get a nice glass of port...

- Erulisse (one L)
It's a rather bizarre holiday, but any excuse for a party. I had a nice glass of port to celebrate the day :-)

- Erulisse (one L)