Asatru is an old religion with very young roots. We have thousands of years of deep tradition and only truly ‘know’ a fraction of it. Even some of what we know only comes in vague hints in the archaeological record, or sources that are suspect of Christian influence. This sort of thing happens when a religion is almost destroyed, and its remnants forced underground for a millennium. So what do we do about our holidays? When even the ones we know were celebrated differently from valley to valley, fjord to fjord? When many we know nothing more than that SOMETHING was celebrated then?
One thing I’ve noticed is holiday calendars that take a wheelbarrow to carry around. Every other day is a day of remembrance, a rote blot for a minor god, or an existing holiday rebranded for our purposes. It’s done with good intentions, to be sure, to give us a sense (however artificial) of our own culture on the calendar. Most of the time I think nothing of it. Let people have their holidays, it doesn’t affect me… My fjord just does it differently. There’s no problem with that. That is, until I start to think about some of them.
In particular, the source of my current thoughts on the matter is Feast of the Einherjar, Feast of the Fallen, or whatever similar name so many groups have renamed Veterans Day. This particular appropriation bothers me to no end for a couple of reasons. First of all, not all Veterans honored on this day are dead! This is a day not just to remember those who died but to remember all who served. Sure, some celebrate Einherjar Day on Memorial Day, but worldwide it’s more common to do it on Veterans Day, as it coincides with Armistice Day. Secondly, this holiday is not about Heathens, nor about our beliefs, nor about our history. Yes, there have been and are Heathen warriors and veterans. Yes, we do respect these people as a culture. However, the point of Veterans days is to give them respect for what they did to serve ALL OF US, Heathen, Christian, Atheist, and everyone else. This holiday is very, very much not about us. I could probably say more, but I would rather not belabor a point that I think has been made, so I’ll leave off with a quote from Ale Glad: “To take too much of the world around us and try to force it into a place and context it shouldn’t have cheapens both.”