Högtider (Festivals)

The following Holy Tides that I celebrate reflect my focus on Swedish customs as well as my own American background. Others may calculate their holy days differently or celebrate different holidays altogether. This list reflects the customs of my household.

Jul (Yule): Jul begins at sunset on December 19th and lasts through December 31st. I usually hold a private blót to Odin on the first night of Jul. Lussinatta, a celebration of the returning of the sun, is celebrated on the solstice with a blót to Sunna at sunrise on the morning after the solstice. Trettondagen, or Thirteenth Day, is the last day of Jul and marks the end of the year. Oaths sworn on the night of Trettondagen are the most powerful of the year. Sacrifices are made to all the gods. Jul is when you pay the tomten their yearly fee of fabric and buttered porridge for their help all year.

Disting: Sometime in mid-February to mid-March, when it starts to be consistently warmer and winter is breaking. I make sacrifices to Freyr and the dísir for frith for the rest of the year. This was when the Swedes held their national Thing. Currently celebrated as a secular festival in early February in modern Sweden.

Vårblot (Spring Blessing): Around the Spring Equinox. This is a celebration of the promise for warmer weather and new growth. It is a time to make lots of noise to help wake up the land. Offerings are made for a good year and frith.

Försommar (Early Summer): May Day. This is a folk festival in celebration of the warmer Springtime weather. Traditionally celebrated with dancing, singing, parties, and bonfires. Publicly celebrated in Sweden as Valborgsmässoaften, named after an English missionary, although it clearly has ancient ties. Sadly, the original name for this festival is lost to time. The night before is a time of magic. It is said that if you pick seven different kinds of wildflowers and put them under your pillow, you will dream about the person you will marry.

Midsommar (Midsummer): Traditionally, this is a large, 3 day festival and national holiday in Sweden. Held around the Summer Solstice. Celebrations include feasting, drinking, singing, and dancing around a midsommarstång (better known as a maypole). Evenings can be spent merrymaking around a bonfire, enjoying time with friends and loved ones. Midsommar is easily as important as Júl. It is a time to be outside in nature and reconnect with the world around us and is sacred to particularly sacred to Freyr, Gerd, and Sunna.

Skördefest (Harvest Festival): July 31st-August 1st. The first harvest festival celebrating the start of the harvest season. Offerings are made for a good harvest. Held in honor of the Vanir.

Höstblot (Autumn Sacrifice): Near the end of September. A second harvest festival celebrating the end of the harvest season. Offerings are made from the last harvest goods and for giving thanks for blessings throughout the year. Held in honor of the Vanir.

Vinternätter (Winter Nights): Near the end of October or early November, often calculated by the full moon. I hold an alvablot and make offerings to Freyr for a gentle winter. Remembrances for the dead are held at this time as part of the alvablot.