Saturday, December 27, 2008

Happy New Year, Bonne Année, Gott Nytt Ar, Bloavez mat ....

A big hug for the New Year...

But.. which calendar are we talking about ? Because our calendar is a solar one with fixed dates, but there is some luni-solar calendars with moving dates (chinese) and there were other ones in use before ours was chosen..

So of course, our New Year day is a pagan holiday without doubt which started when Julius Cesar decided that the 1st of January will become the first day of the year. This day was dedicated by the Romans to Janus, God of the doors and begininings... In France, we had to wait 1564 before January 1st was adopted.. Ave Cesar !!

Do not forget the mistletoe trick, kiss and make peace under it...

Bloavez mat !!

Friday, December 5, 2008

Back to the roots

As we enter the old path of ancient times, Christmas was the celebration of the rebirth of the sun, after the longest night. Facts, mythology, legends shadowed by Christianity trying to erase the pagan rituals are still alive.

Our Christmas tree is the tree of life of the ancient Celts. As the months were represented by tree, the fir tree was the one for December, a symbol of rebirth.

Another important symbol still very present : the mistletoe.

Celtic tradition

(Indispensable ingredients of the magic potion of Panoramix (the famous druid in Asterix village), the sacred mistletoe was cut by the druid with a golden sickle (as seen on the picture of Panoramix), the sixth day of the Celtic year. They collected it in a white linen sheet while chanting : ‘’O Ghel an Heu’’ which means ‘’let the wheat grow’’. This expression, deformed by time will become in medieval time ‘’au Gui l’an neuf’’ that all French know (''with mistletoe, the new year''). Branches were divided among the people to bring them luck for the year. So sacred it was that it should not touch the ground. The Gallic found plenty virtues to this plant : to chase the bad spirits, purify souls, anti poison, help with the cattle and people fecundity or give the ability to see ghosts and even make them talk…..) In fact, it was considered so sacred that even enemies who happened to meet beneath Mistletoe in the forest would lay down their weapons, exchange a friendly greeting, and keep a truce until the following day. From this old custom grew the practice of suspending Mistletoe over a doorway or in a room as a token of good will and peace to all comers.

Viking Myth

In Scandinavia, the Evil God Loke blinded by jealousy killed the Sun God Balder with a poison arrow made of the stem of a mistletoe. His mother, Frigg Goddess of love and Beauty begged the gods to spare Balder life, otherwise, darkness will fall on Earth, promising to kiss anyone who passes under a mistletoe. Balder resuscitated. From this legend was born the custom to kiss under the mistletoe, becoming symbol of love and forgiveness.


When Christianity took a foothold in the Celtic and Viking regions of northern Europe, the ancient ways were condemned as pagan practices and were abandoned by the newly converted. Mistletoe was one of the casualties, and for centuries it was forbidden to display the plant on Christian altars. Eventually, Mistletoe found its way back into acceptance and was revived the ancient ritual of kissing under the Mistletoe as a sign of love, romance and good luck.

Today, Mistletoe can be purchased at most flower shops and even some grocery stores at Christmas. And although some may not hold the same spiritual beliefs as the ancient Norseman and the Celts, they can always remember the good will and happiness it represents with a kiss under the Mistletoe this season.

Tuesday, December 2, 2008

December and the longest night

Christmas, Jul, Noël, Natividad... is the celebration of the birth of the ''unvanquished sun'' (sol invictus for the romans), Natalis Deis (day of birth) celebrated on winter solstice day. On this date, the sun is reborn, days are longer.

The Celts who associated a tree for each month celebrated the winter solstice also as the day of the rebirth of the sun. Logically, the epicea was chosen to symbolized childbirth and fertility.

It is also the solstice celebration which is at the origin of Scandinavian Christmas, Jul, very important celebration as we go farther north and the days get shorter in winter.

In the 4th Century, the church unable to suppress the old traditions, decided to disguised the pagan holidays and December 25 (which was at the time, the day of the winter solstice according to the Julian calendar) was chosen to celebrate the birth of Christ (probably born in autumn). As the church thought of Jesus as the sun Christ, the date was assimilated for the church purposes, as many other pagan holidays.