View Full Version : Lesson Seven Part G

May 28th, 2008, 11:38 PM
Harvest Rites and Sedes (Customs)

Often called Harvest Home in England, this holy tide falls on the fall equinox. Harvest falls in the middle of harvest in some areas, for others it is the end. For this reason, it and Winter Nights share some customs like the Last Sheaf. Harvest home also shared many customs with Lammass. Again a procession with the last sheaf as the harvest doll took place. Other Harvest customs are unique to it alone such as its version of the Mummer's Play called "RiseUp, Jock." It has much in common with the Yule mummer's plays in that a young king dies and is brought back by a healer with a bag of tricks much like Saint George. In England songs like Harvest Home were sung when the last load came in, as songs similar to John Barleycorn would have been sung while harvesting. It was at this time beer was started brewing, while the barley was still fresh, and a symbel probably would have been in order. In parts of Germany, a goat was slaughtered and roasted at this time, and meant to symbolize the "oats goat."

In modern Germany, Erntefest is their Thanksgiving taking place on the first Sunday in October. Several customs survived. One very strange one in Cottbus, Germany involved building an oak leaves gate, on the gate was hung a dead cock. Mean would then race for the gate and try to tear a wing off the cock. The one that got a wing and made in thru the gate was the Kral.

Falling near Erntefest is Michaelmas which takes place on Sept. 29th. Ironically this date was also cited by Grimm as Zisa's Day, a day sacred to Tiw's (Tyr's) wife. It is therefore reasonable to think may of Michaelmas's customs were originally Heathen in origin. Such customs are giving water to wolves, letting cattle into the wood was no longer allowed until the end of winter (as the wood belongs to the wolf after Michaelmas), and that the winter fodder for the cattle must be collected by then.

The Last Sheaf

As the festival closing harvest, Winter Nights has many customs connected to the last sheaf. In areas as varied as Sweden and Germany, the last sheaf was left for Woden's horse. Often this was done at Winter Nights, tho it could be the three harvest festivals, Hlafmaest, Harvest, and Winter Nights celebrated the harvest of three different kinds of crops. Wheat, barley, and other grains do not all ripen at the same time. Therefore there could easily be a Last Sheaf for each grian crop.