Browsed by
Tag: Viking calendar

The Month of Gói or Women’s Month

The Month of Gói or Women’s Month

Sorry I dropped off writing about the months. I’ll pick up now with the month of Gói, which is the fifth winter month in the Norse calendar. We don’t know a lot about the traditions of this particular month, except that the Norse named it after the daughter of Þorri, or Thorri. The month of Þorri precedes Gói, and is most known for its Thorrablot. Thorri is a winter spirit, akin to our own Jack Frost. Farmers held a blot to Gói in this month to welcome her. Tradition states that this month was the month where men took care of their women more. I can totally get behind that.

Weather During the Month of Gói

Gói runs somewhere between mid-February to mid-March, so there’s no doubt that even if the Spring Equinox is just around the corner, the weather during Gói was daunting during Viking times. The temperature in Norway was probably high 20s to low 40s Fahrenheit during the month, with occasional drops below zero. Sure, there were thaws, but the weather was too cold to consider planting, given that you could have some pretty nasty freezes. I suspect that farmers welcomes Gói because of the signs of an upcoming spring (even though they had only two seasons: winter and summer). Maybe Gói was considered a herald for summer when the farmers could plant their crops? Regardless, it’s unlikely anyone farmed during this time.

What Did People do with All that Winter?

At this point, you’re probably wondering how people didn’t go stir-crazy with all that winter. There were plenty of things to do during winter, especially crafting and repairs. People had to keep their livestock alive, which meant proper care for them in the winter so they would have wool, fiber, meat, and milk for the rest of the year. There was hunting, if you wanted fresh meat. They also played games, sang, told stories, and prepared their tools and weapons for the upcoming summer. And they had skis and ice skates to get around on the snow and lakes.

Food was what they preserved over the summer and fall. The cold, dry air allowed them to dry fish and other meats using a brine to help preserve them. The only fresh food was the meat they could hunt and catch, and perhaps milk, if their cows or goats started to calve or kid.  As a side note, you know all about the Christmas fruitcake, made from dried fruit and nuts. Well, I suspect these cakes come from earlier times as a way to provide a treat with fruit, even when the fresh fruit was out of season.

New Life

About this time, the livestock would start giving birth to their offspring. I know, because that’s how my goats are, if I breed them. The Viking farmers would’ve kept their calves, kids, and lambs inside with the other livestock, possibly in a birthing pen so the little ones could stick around their mom and not get trampled by the rest of the herd. They would’ve taken the extra milk to make cheese or use in cooking after the young ones had eaten their fill.

So, the month of Gói was largely spent in preparation for summer. In a few weeks, I’ll talk about the next month, Einmánuður.

Do you like what you’re reading on The Rational Heathen? Want me to continue to give you great content? Support me on Patreon for just $1 a post. My Patreon supporters get cool, exclusive posts and other freebies. Check it out!
Become a Patron!

The Month of Haustmánuður

The Month of Haustmánuður

I was checking out a site on the Viking Age and ran across an old Norse calendar. For all intents and purposes, the month we’re in is Haustmánuður, and it was considered the last month of summer. Apparently our Nordic ancestors divided the year into summer and winter, rather than the four seasons like we do now. They also followed the lunar calendar, going either from new moon to new moon or full moon to full moon. This month, Haustmánuður, is the Harvest Month. It is considered the last month of the Nordic calendar.

When Did the Harvest Month Haustmánuður Occur?

According to the Icelandic Wikipedia, Haustmánuður comes on the 23rd week of summer on a Thursday, which puts it roughly between the 21st and the 27th of September.  In 2019, that puts Haustmánuður on September 26th. If we go with the full moon lunar cycle, that would put the full moon in September at September 14th.  The new moon lunar cycle starts Haustmánuður on September 28th, which would make Yule that much closer to the Winter Solstice.

Why the Harvest Month?

You may have noticed that the Viking Age Norse tended to put a lot of stock in harvests and planting. Despite the Vikings’ fearsome reputation, most Nordic peoples were farmers, looking to eek out a living in a very harsh  climate. Since the weather was either warm or cold, they needed to grow all their crops during the “summer” months to prepare for the brutally hard winter. Harvest was important to the Northern peoples because if you didn’t get enough put up for the winter, chances are you would starve. So, harvest became an important time, and our harvest gods were just as important. A good harvest meant everyone could eat and hopefully survive the winter. A bad harvest meant that you’d be lucky enough to see the spring. So, harvest festivals were important because they celebrated a good harvest and gave thanks to the deities who blessed the farmer with the harvest’s bounty.

Making Harvest Relevant Today

At this point, you’re probably thinking that harvest isn’t as applicable as it was even 100 years ago. And to a certain extent, you’d be right. Most people can go to their local supermarket and buy whatever it is they need, regardless of whether or not it’s in season where they live. The economy has become global, with being able to buy just about anything from anywhere. It might be fall in the Northern Hemisphere, but in the Summer Hemisphere, it’s Spring. Hothouses allow growing plants throughout the year. You no longer have to wait for slaughter time to get meat to put up. Hel, you don’t even have to store food for the upcoming winter months. So, how can we make Haustmánuður and Winter Finding relevant?

If you grow even some of your own food, you may have a sense as to when it’s time to harvest your garden before the upcoming frost. Don’t let that food go to waste; can, freeze, or dehydrate it so that you can use it in the upcoming winter months. If you don’t have a garden, you can still buy local foods from your farmer’s market and celebrate their harvest with your own feast. Be glad that there are farmers who provide food for you, because without them, you would starve. Even if you can’t have a feast that is made up of local foods, just having some in your meal will put you in touch with both the seasons and your ancestors.

Don’t Forget to Thank the Harvest Gods and Goddesses in Haustmánuður

During Haustmánuður, hold a blot for those gods and goddesses who blessed the harvest. Freyr, Freyja, Sif, Thor, and Gerðr are all deities of the harvest and we should thank them for the bounty. We should also thank the wights and the farmers; without them, there would be no harvest. We should also thank our ancestors for their knowledge and their perseverance in growing crops, because without their skills, they would not have survived and we would not be here.

Enjoy Haustmánuður  and Winter Finding, my friends!