I’ve been meaning to write more about the Heathen holidays, seeing as there are a bunch of them. If anything can be said about Heathens, it’s we have holidays every month and for just about any reason. Since there isn’t a consensus on what holidays we should celebrate, other than those which are historically accurate, we can celebrate just about any holiday and make it our own. The holiday I’m writing about today is Winter Finding or Fall Feast. So, let’s get to it.
Winter Finding is sort of the winter prequel of feasts. This feast happens on the Fall Equinox and is the second harvest feast of the year (the first is Freyfaxi, which happens on August 1st). Winter Finding is the beginning of autumn complete with foods harvested from around this time. Traditionally, it was a celebration of putting up crops for the winter and preparing for the cold winter months ahead. This was the time when people prepared to stay indoors, farmers moved their primary livestock inside or into their barns, and extraneous animals were slaughtered and preserved for winter.
Winter Finding was often celebrated with bonfires, feasting, dancing, and blots. In preindustrial times, this was a crucial period because if the harvest was poor, it meant possible death by starvation in the winter months.
Modern Day Winter Finding
In most cases, we don’t have to worry about having enough to eat during the winter months. Most of us get our groceries from the store, which means we have plenty of food available, provided we have money.
That being said, it helps to have a farmer’s market in your area because you will get a better feel for the season and the types of food being produced in your area. Eating a feast made with foods from that season is a sure way to connect with our ancestors and the types of foods they ate. Although many foods we eat nowadays weren’t available to our Northern ancestors, due to the fact that a number of fruits and vegetables we eat come from the Western Hemisphere, eating seasonal foods puts us in touch with the seasons and the wights.
Some Ideas for Your Fall Feast
So, how do you stay in tune with the season? Check out these ideas and see if any resonate.
- Weather and fire laws permitting, have a bonfire (or light some wood in your fire pit).
- Create a Heathen feast with foods from local farmers that are in season.
- Spend time gathering wild edibles — just be sure you know what you have.
- Preserve food for the winter: canning, dehydrating, and freezing.
- Make sure your pets and/or livestock are ready for the winter. Vaccinations, nail and hoof trims, warm bedding, enough food, etc.
- Offer a blot to the gods of the harvest: Freyr, Gerðr, Freyja, Thor, Sif, and others.
- Start making your mead for Yule.
- Make sure your hunting gear is ready to go for hunting season.
- Get your house clean for winter.
What do you do for Winter Finding?