No Way in the myriad of Heathen or Pagan Ways is complete without holidays, or tides. Þunresfolc Heorþ is no exception to this. This is but our First Year, and though I personally have some experience in Heathenship, as well as Paganism before it, I sought to critically examine the way I did things. Holidays weren’t something I put a lot of thought into. Though having someone with which to celebrate has been a great blessing, I believe that one who doesn’t can still have meaningful holiday celebrations.
Regardless, after a lot of thought, and using all of the influences I have in regards to practice, I have now a list of Holidays. Some are still in their planning stages, others have already started traditions that will be repeated in the future here. Sometimes things will work smoothly, and all aspects will be observed, and other times life happens.
In the spirit of the way we have named the months, we name the holidays in a more modern tongue. However, for the ones that have an old name, it will not be hard to find. Plenty of other folks already do that. That being said, though the timing of these holidays approximates either older ones from history, or contemporary Heathen and Pagan holidays, you will find that some of the names are those of my own creation. There are many influences in these holidays, as we do not live in a vacuum.
There are some that have more historical basis, and others are woven together from various historical concepts, into something new. If there’s anything you wish to borrow, feel free. After all, I don’t view myself as the owner of any of it, as the ideas came from many other people. This is how I have put them together. So, not everything here has a historical basis. With that in mind, here is the current list of Tides at Þunresfolc Heorþ, along with descriptions and how we either do or plan, or just ideas to observe them.
The Tides of Þunresfolc Heorþ are as follows:
Yule– Here, the Yule season starts with Mother’s Night, which, for us is the night of the Winter Sunstead (solstice). A small meal is prepared to eat with the Old Mothers, the women of our ancestral lines. Another thing that I’ve added, is that I like to get my mother a gift on this night as well. The Old Mothers and living ones are remembered, and are given an offering on this night.
After Mother’s Night, the Yule season begins in earnest. Cattle are special animals to us, and are the centerpiece of all feasts due to this. So, a beef roast is prepared and enjoyed, and all the sides and trimmings. Sweets and gifts are exchanged as well. Lights are lit, seasonal incenses burned, and decorations are put up to capture this most special time of year.
Quickening– This holiday took a little more borrowing and weaving. There is, in Bede’s accounts the offering of cakes. Which we will do. Furthermore, as this is in wait for spring, and the, well, quickening of the Earth, they will be buried (an idea we got from the ‘Æcre Bót’ charm). However, offered to Thunor’s wife, whom we call Sibbe, that we relate to the growth and fruits of the Earth (mainly grain, but really anything that grows).
This is also the time that hibernating animals wake, and this day is not far from Groundhog Day in the United States. This is not lost on us, as we await what the groundhog tells us about the length of the remaining winter. Another theme is the coming of spring, and so, particularly to a home, it must be cleaned of all of the accumulated mess. So, it is our time for a “spring cleaning”. This involves the physical, as well as the sacred, and so it is a time for cleansing, purification, and getting things in order.
This was, in the past, a time for the Charming of the Plough. However, we don’t have a plough, or a farm at this time. Perhaps a thought for anyone who has farming equipment.
Eastretide– This happens on the full moon after the spring equinox, in Eastremonth (Ēastremonath). On this day, we give an offering to Eastre, the Dawn Maiden. We plan to do this at a local spring, and perhaps gather Holy Water. This is, of course, the time when the Earth again turns green, and the first flowers start to bloom.
We do not have a normal feast, but have developed, instead, a tradition of having an Eastre Breakfast (or brunch). Fitting, we believe for a day honoring the Dawn Maiden. This is another decorating holiday, in which I’d like to utilize bright colors to really capture the essence of the season.
Summer Nights (or Summerfull)– Another holiday that was made through more than a bit of weaving. I like to think this is the first time to have a good bonfire. To us, the theme is of liveliness, and the first days of summer. It’s not quite a feast day, but as it’s around the full Moon of Threemilk (Thrimilci), we’ve come up with the idea of appreciating cheese and milk this day. A major staple of our diets, and since this is when cows are milked three times a day, I think it’s a great way to enjoy that.
Otherwise, we enjoy the wonderful weather, and plan on establishing a Summer Hike, in lieu of a procession (hard to do with two people, and even if we had more, I’m not sure lookers on would understand why a few folks were parading about town). For those in places where May Day is celebrated, this would be in that frame of time, and those festivities would be more than appropriate! This is certainly a time to enjoy life, and the company of good folks as we welcome warm, long summer days.
Midsummer– On the days around the Summer Sunstead is Midsummer. I’d say a good cookout would be just as appropriate as a feast on this day. This is when we celebrate the triumph of light over darkness, and enjoy what summer has to offer.
In our lore, it marks the triumph of Thunor over the Hellwyrm. The world around us is resplendent in green, bounty, and beauty. If it weren’t for the fact that I prefer cloudy days over sunny ones, and didn’t despise hot days, it’d be my favorite time of year. Regardless, it’s my favorite holiday to celebrate. A fine time to eat well, and enjoy the weather. As far as the Year Wheel, it doesn’t get much better than this.
Loaftide– Of course, this is the time of the Grain Harvest. A major staple in the diets of almost everyone. On this tide, we bake a loaf for the gods. Namely Thunor, and his wife Sibbe. After all, in the North, her hair was said to resemble the golden fields of grains. So, honoring Her is a big part of the day for us.
We also bake a loaf to enjoy ourselves. After all, who doesn’t like a loaf of fresh, home baked bread? Though it lacks the trappings of some of the bigger holidays, I enjoy it. We celebrate it on the full Moon of Weedmonth (Weedmonth).
Harvest Tide– On the Harvest Moon, the full Moon after the Autumn Equinox, we celebrate the Harvest. For us, this is like what most folks would call Thanksgiving. Though we have a roast instead of turkey. (Great for me, as I don’t care for turkey.) At this time, we give part of our feast to the Gods (mainly Thunor, but Ingui is a popular choice for good reason). Of course, we also take time to relate the things for which we are thankful.
Apple dishes are a big part of Harvest for us, due to this being the time of the apple harvest in particular. Any holiday that allows for copious consumption of food and cider is a good one in my book. At this time, we prepare for winter, and take time to appreciate the fall weather, as well as the changing of the leaves and the crisp smell that comes with it.
Winter Nights (Winterfull)– The last holiday in the year for us is this one. It is a time that we give special honors to our Old Ones, ancestors. On this day, we share a feast for them. The theme of this time is death. We celebrate on the full Moon of Winterfull (Winterfylleth). This is of course, the beginning of winter.
This is seen as a time of magic (however that may apply to you), and in which the worlds of the living and dead are closest (this also apllies to Summer Nights, but at this time is more noticeable, likely given to the season). This part comes from Celtic influences (after all, I had been involved in Brythonic and Gaulish Polytheisms), and I truly do believe as well that the worlds are closer at this time.
These are the Tides of Þunresfolc Heorþ as they stand right now. There is also, and a specific of our brand of Thunor cult, a small celebration of the First Storm of the year. In which we welcome Thunor and his efforts against the Ettins of Winter. We simply light candles, and make a small offering to welcome his return.
From here, who knows how much may come to be added to these tides? These traditions will grow with us. I hope your traditions will grow with you and yours, too. I don’t own any of this, so, as I said, feel free to borrow from them if they suit. I have been blessed to learn of the great peoples of both the past, and my contemporaries who have forged strong and beautiful traditions. So, if I offer anything of use, the least I can do is share it.