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.
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)