Autumn is magical time of the year. All these old festivals were connected to the harvest and to celebrate the end time of the year.
Hestia is one of my favorite goddesses in Greek mythology. She is the goddess of the home and hearth fire.
I am currently working on some autumn - themed art. Here are some inspirational autumn vibes for you.
When I lived in Wales I celebrated Calan Gaeaf with my friends. Calan Gaeaf is Welsh and it is derived from Nos Claan Gaeaf which means the night of the spirits.
Calan Gaeaf has been traditionally celebrated in Wales during the night between the last day of October and the first of November. It is very similar festival to Samhain in Ireland and Samhuin in Scotland, Kekri in Finland, Mardipäev in Estonia and Velines in Lithuania etc.
There are many interesting and fascinating beliefs and customs connected to Calan Gaeaf. One of the most important traditions was bonfires and they were known as Coelcerth. According to one custom people piled rocks around the fire and carved their names into the rocks. If the rock was gone in the next morning, person who´s name was in the missing rock would pass away in the coming year.
It was believed that the night between the last of October and the first of November was limbo, the time when the veil between the living and the death was open. Welsh word for November Tachwedd means slaughter. November was a month when animals were slaughtered and meat was restored for the upcoming winter.
Mumming and masquerades were a big part of Calan Gaeaf. Many people wore masks so that the evil spirits would not recognise them. There were plays organised by theatre and pantomime groups. Making tricks and pranks was also part of Calan Gaeaf. It was believed that mimicking the spirits would bring good luck for the coming year. During the medieval times people gave so called soul-cakes for each others. Soul-cake tradition originated from French monasteries where during the day of St. Martin cakes were given to the poor. In Wales families baked lots of soul-cakes and gave the to friends and neighbours. When a person receives a soul-cake they are ought to think about a passed away person. Hence the name soul-cakes.
Soul-cakes were often given to the mummers, who often were disguised children and teen-agers. Later on soul-cakes were replaced by sweets and money.
Celebration of Calan Gaeaf decreased in the 19th and 20th centuries when the state claimed most of the land and during the time of industrial revolution majority of the people moved from the countryside to cities. Now days most Welsh people who celebrate Calan Gaeaf are pagans/spiritual folk and Halloween has become quite popular in the UK as well within recent years (my own Kekri celebration is a happy mixture of all kind of autumn time/pagan holidays).
Day of the Dead
In Estonia Mardipäev is celebrated on November 10th Day of St. Martins. In the northern hemisphere often festivals and celebrations that were related to the agricultural world take place around the same time. Mardipäev shares similarities with festivals like Kekri in Finland, Vélinés in Lithuania, Calan Gaeaf in Wales and Samhain in Ireland.
Mihklipäev the Day of St.Michael (Sept. 29th) began a time period called Hindedaeg, coming from the Estonian word "hing" meaning spirit and breath was believed to be time when souls and spirits walked among the living. There are different versions telling how long Hindedaeg lasted. According to some versions Hindedaeg ended on Kadripäev the Day of St. Catherine November 25th and according to other sources Hindedaeg ended on Christmas Eve. There are also some sources which tell us that Hindedaeg ended on Mardipäev. Hindedaeg was time period dedicated to remember the passed away people and relatives. Baltic countries were some of the last countries in Europe that were converted into Christianity. Still today such Christian holidays, like All Saint´s Day are not celebrated in Estonia and have no religious meaning for most people. In Estonia All Saint´s Day is known as Hingedepaev, day of the spirits, and people lit up candles to remember their past away relatives (we have this same tradition in Finland).
Traditions and Superstitions
Some of the traditions that belonged into Mardipäev was to prepare dinner for the family and passed away relatives. Food and drinks were served for the dead. Sauna was also prepared for the spirits. There was a custom that lady and the master of the house would invite the passed away relatives inside one by one. They asked the ancestors to protect the fields and the herd and thanked them for watching over the family. After the dinner and sauna lady and the master wished farewell for the ancestors and safe journey back...wherever they were returning. Food that were served in the Mardipäev dinner was; barley porridge, boiled meat, broth, beans and peas. Very common Mardipäev dish in Estonia is goose. It was forbidden to make any kind of noisy chores during Mardipäev. Women especially were not allowed to weave or do anything that had something to do with cotton. It was believed that that would jinx the growth of flax in the coming year.
Time of the Spirits
In Estonia mardis are essential part of Mardipäev. Mardis were children (and sometimes adults) who rubbed soot into their faces. They wore old sheets and furs to mimic the spirits. Mardis went from house to house in small groups performing songs and little plays and for that they were served with sweets , foods and drinks. There was belief that the more mardis people invited welcome into their homes their crop would be very plentiful. This custom originates from France where during Middle Ages there was a custom in Monasteries to give so called soul cakes for the poor. While receiving a soul cake person had to pray and think about a passed away person. Custom was brought to Estonia by German invaders in the late Middle Ages.
In Mardipäev parades large groups of mardis walked through the town. Mardipäev parade was lead by mardifather, followed by Mardimother, mardichildren and sometimes they even had a mardibaby. Paraders walked towards a large building where there was a big celebration that included singing, dancing, plays, lots of good food and drinking. People played harps, trumpets, violins and smallest children beat pans together just to create noise. Keeping lots of noise was believed to keep evil spirits away.
In modern Day Estonia Mardipäev is still celebrated, mostly in smaller towns and in the country side. In bigger cities people don´t like to invite strangers to their homes. In bigger cities like Tallinn Mardipäev festivities take place in Mardipäev market. In smaller towns and villages you can still find groups of children visiting from house to house performing songs and plays. Mardipäev is also celebrated still today in many Estonian schools.
Merry Meet! For all the American friends of Fairychamber and anyone else who celebrates Halloween I am happy to tell you that I´ve turned bunch of my illustrations to Halloween cards. Click images to get straight into the store and to the product page.
When Black Cats Are Seen...
It´s near Halloween!
One of my personal favorites. I had a black cat many moons ago and he was a cat with sweetest nature. I can never understand the fear for black cats. They are often more sensitive and attached to people (and other pets) than any other cats. Anyway I love witches, autumn and black cats. That is all :)
Keep It Freaky This Halloween
..and every Halloween to come!
Based on my watercolor painting called "the Circus of Shadows".
Are you one of those blessed people (like myself) who likes to watch the Crow every single Halloween?
+ the lost boys, hocus pocus, the original Mummy, any movie with Sir Christopher Lee....
What is Halloween (or Easter) without witches! I would imagine that witches can fly with anything, like stars.
Day of Mikko
In the old Finnish pagan wheel of the year Mikonpäivä/Mikkelinpäivä the day of St.Michael was celebrated in 29th of September. In southern Savonia this day was known as pässinpäivä the day of the ram.
Mikonpäivä started the winter season and was known as the gate to winter and the opposite of it was Hela the May festival which was gate to the summer.
Finnish pagan wheel of the year was based on agriculture and farming. Mikonpäivä was the time when people moved from outdoor works into indoor works. Mikonpäivä started the last harvest period.
After Mikonpäivä there was runtuviikko which was free week for the servants. Runtuviikko included parties, dances, meetings and many couple got married during Runtuviiko.
Mikonpäivä was important day for the shephards because it was their last working day. To celebrate they lit bonfires to the hills. There was all kinds of superstitions connected to Mikonpäivä. Livestock had to be brought inside before sunset. People were dressed up to their best and when they took animals inside they sang protection spells for the cattle. An arch was made of tree branches and put upon the gate that lead into stables. Horses had to walk underneath the arch for protection.
Sacrifices were made for the elves and spirits. Ancestors were thanked for protecting the cattle and keeping the livestock healthy. Sacrifices were bit different in different parts of the country. In some areas drops of vodka and bread were left for the elves and in some areas silver was given. In the morning, porridge was left for the house elf into riihi (building where rye was dried, riihi´s were common in Russia and Scandinavian countries).
In Eastern Finland Mikonpäivä was the day of the ram and sheeps and rams were sacrificed. Inner organs of the animal was buried underneath the spirit tree and the head was hanged into the branches. Rest of the meat was served as dinner. Other foods of pässinpäivä were potatoes, beer, cheese, porridge and cabbage. Why rams were sacrificed is unclear. It is possible that they were sacrificied to please ancient fertility gods of the land or the ancestors.
In Karelia Mikonpäivä was known as Pokrova and it´s symbol was the veil of Virgin Mary (pokrov is Russian and translates as safety, protection). In the pagan areas of Karelia the last hay of the harvest were taken into the sacred groves. In the areas where religion was Russian Orthodoxism the hays were carried inside and layed next to the images of saints where they were blessed and after that they were given for the cows to eat.
There was all kinds of superstitions connected to Pokrova. In the night of Pokrova horses wore warp during the night. It was believed that when they did that they would not feel cold during winter months.
In Ingria when ladies took cattle inside the cattle shed they sang greeting songs for the earth spirit. It was believed that after pokrova it was forbidden to ”move the land” anymore because the land went to sleep. In Ingria Pokrova was common hunting and fishing day.
In Latvia festival Abjumidas - began the autumn season. Abjumidas was celebrated to honor the god Jumis. He was pagan god of harvest and fertility and he was celebrated during autumn equinox between 22-24th of September. If you wish to find out more about Latvian deities you can find the full list here.
andOctober first Mikeli or the day of St.Michael was named after both a Catholic saint and the archangel Michael. It is very likely that originally Mikeli was a nature spirit. In Latvian folk belief St.Michael was the receiver of souls. Before the arrival of Christianity in Latvia that was the job of the god Jumis.
In both Finland and in Latvia Mikeli was the "gate to winter" and all the farm work had to be finished by Mikeli.
In Latvia people believed into the dividing time, a period in autumn when all the spirits of the dead wandered on the earth. Velu Laiks means time of the dead and it was followed by Ledus likes the time of the ice. After Ledus likes it was safe to walk on ice.
Maritini also known as Martindiena was celebrated on November 10th. In Finland day is known as Martinpäivä and in Estonia as Mardipäev. Martini was named after the Catholic St.Martin of Tours or Martin Luther, the founder of Lutheranism. Day of St.Martin is celebrated all over Europe but the holiday itself is way older and the name of it is based on the French word morti and Latin mori meaning death. In pre-Christian times in Latvia Martini was celebrated to honor the horse god Martinš. He was a dual god. In the spring time he would turn into god Usinš.
During the night of Martini young ladies threw their skirts to the floor before going to bed and in the dream their future spouse would pick it up.
There must have been many kinds of rituals to celebrate this special day. One that I found was a protection ritual for the horses where a rooster was sacrificed. On the eve of Martini horse´s mouth was touched with the rooster and then it was lifted towards the sun. Blood of the rooster was dropped to the horse oats. Latvians worshiped the sun goddess saule so lifting the rooster towards the sun was a sacrificial gift for the goddess. On the next day the left back food of the horse was painted with blood. Dead rooster was smugded in the stable and was put inside a bread and carried around the building to drive away evil spirit. Rooster was a surrogate victim.
Fortunately this custom is not practiced in modern Latvia.
Festivities included masquarade parades, sleigh riding, dances and preparing lots of food. There was also martiparades going on around Martini. Big martis were grown ups and small martis were children. Marti´s were people who painted their faces and dressed up as spirits of the dead. These parades were common in othe countries as well like Austria, Germany, Finland, Holland, Sweden and in Estonia.
Pronounced as Nee-na.
Artist, illustrator, writer, watercolorist and a folklorist. Gryffinclaw. Comes from Finland. Likes cats, tea and period dramas.
Love fandoms AOGG and Little Women (prefers books over the films). Louisa May Alcott researcher.
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