Friday, December 21, 2018

Baltic Christmas Day 21 - Winter Solstice!

Today is the winter solstice, the shortest day of the year; add to that a full moon and meteor shower, and it is bound to be a magical night! Many seasonal Latvian traditions originated in the ancient pagan celebrations of the winter solstice, and over the centuries these old pagan traditions not only survived, but have been incorporated into the Christian celebration. From pulling the log to decorating the house, we’ve compiled a list of resources of things you need to know to usher in the New Year and herald the return of the sun!

Photo: Wikipedia commons, credit Spekozols

To ward off the darkness, cold, last year's mishaps, bad work and thoughts, people pull a Yule log from one farm to another and then burn it, symbolizing the beginning of a new year. Baņuta gives us the details in her post Dec. 21 – Lighten Up!, and the article Day 22, Winter Solstice features additional options for the bluķa vilkšana. For those living in the city, the Light 'n Go Bonfire Logs from Home Depot are from the Baltics, burn quickly, and have handy pre-cut slots. 

In ancient Latvia, Ziemassvētki celebrated the rebirth of the Sun Maiden. Traditional celebrations included participating in ķekatas (also known as budēļi kaļadas, similar to mumming), when people dressed up costumes and went from house to house singing, dancing, and playing games. The traditional costumes varied, but popular choices were animals such as a horse, bear or crane. The ķekatas are believed to bring luck to the households that they visit, scaring away evil spirits in the process with the loud singing and carousing, and are warmly welcomed with food and drink. More on the budēļi tradition in Imanta’s post A Baltic Christmas Day 4 – Čigāni!

The saimnieks and saimniece at each house would treat the guests – whether they be ķekatnieki or log pullers – with food and drink. One traditional food that was served was the pig’s head; learn to make your own with the article A Pig’s Head for a Winter Solstice Dinner.

Christmas and the winter solstice is traditionally a magical time in all three of the Baltic countries, and nowhere is this magic more evident than in the natural world and the Baltic customs surrounding animals. Read more about these traditions in the post Christmastime Animal Stories and Superstitions.

It is also a time for fortune-telling, merrymaking and games. Here Daina discussed the role of ziemas saulgrieži in her holiday celebrations: Day 16 and the Winter Solstice

Daiva addresses some of the Lithuanian traditions in her article Lithuanian Pre-Christian Rituals and Superstitions in Today’s Catholic Celebration

May you have a wonderful winter solstice celebration, and please join us tomorrow for debessmannā

No comments:

Post a Comment

Related Posts Plugin for WordPress, Blogger...