The Historical Heathen Holidays and Calendar

Updated: May 3

My goal is to have this be the most comprehensive article on the world wide web on Historical Pre-christian Heathen holidays and time-keeping, that posts more sources (dozens more) than any other web site, and proves its points so thoroughly, so there can be no doubt to its accuracy. *At the end of this blog article, I will give the dates of the holidays of the Germanic/Scandinavian religion, called fyrn sidu, aldsidu, and fornsiðr (various spellings) in the historical sources. [Steinsland 2005] [Nordberg 2006] These words for the religion mean "old ways" or "old customs." Today, almost all eclectic Asatru pagan orgs/groups claim they follow the old ways, though almost all in these groups have never read one page of one saga nor do any serious research. This article is the culmination of over twenty years of research.

The Proto-Indo-Europeans had a Lunisolar calendar

Before the advent of the modern solar calendar (which was first brought to Europe by Julius Caesar and the Romans who copied the solar calendar from the Eqyptians), the Eurasian Peoples all kept lunisolar calendars. [Richards, E. G. (2013). "Calendars". In Urban, Sean; Seidelmann, P. Kenneth (eds.). Explanatory Supplement to the Astronomical Almanac (3rd ed.). Mill Valley, CA: University Science Books.] A lunisolar calendar, has twelve "lunar months" (i.e. the moon in the sky showed the Germanic peoples their "moon/month") and uses the winter solstice to determine when a thirteenth moon would be added to the year. Bede, an English monk, wrote in the year 725 CE: "When, however, an embolism occurred, that is, a year of thirteen lunar moons, they added the extra moon to the summer." Dr. Andreas Nordberg, the world’s foremost scholar on Norse Holidays, makes clear in his book on the dating of Yule that “The pre-Christian Yule feast occurs at the first full moon after the first new moon following the winter solstice, while the disting took place at the third full moon according to the same method of calculation.” [Jul, disting och förkyrklig tideräkning Kalendrar och kalendariska riter i det förkristna Norden Uppsala 2006, P.4] The Scandinavian Peoples were Germanic Peoples. Those in the lands of modern Germany, the Netherlands, Scandinavia, Belgium, and Northwestern Poland venerated the Aesir and followed Lunisolar calendars, and even the Germanic/Scandinavian languages prove this. [Gerhard Köbler. Althochdeutsches Wörterbuch] Some Germanic peoples also moved to England. The Germanic/Scandinavian calendars were lunisolar, the months corresponding to lunar cycles. The word "month" means "cycle of the moon" in all Germanic and Scandinavian languages. Even in modern English, descended from Old English, the word "month" means "lunar cycle." If you add a "th" to the number "seven" you get "seventh." If you add a "th" to the number "six" you get "sixth." The "th" at the end of these numbers mean that the numbers are now in an order or a succession. When a "th" is added to the word "moon" you get the word "month." The lunisolar calendar is reflected in the Proto-Germanic term mēnōþs "month" (Old English mōnaþ, Old Saxon mānuð, Old Norse mánuðr, and Old High German mānod,) being a derivation of the word for "moon", mēnô; which shares its ancestry with the Greek mene "moon", men "month", and Latin mensis "month". [Dershowitz, Nachum; Reingold, Edward M. (2008). Calendrical Calculations. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press.] The Roman historian Tacitus writes in his Germania (Chapter 11) 98CE/AD that the Germanic peoples observed the lunar months. “The community gathers, if nothing unusual or sudden happens, at certain times when the moon is new or full, because they consider this the luckiest beginning to discuss matters. Also, they do not calculate the number of days, but the number of nights. In this way they state purpose and commitment. Night does precede the day.” [Translation by Dr. Andreas E. Zautner]


The Germanic/Scandinavian Day

The day began at sundown, and ended at sundown. This practice is seen in our American/English world and language today. Notice how holidays begin at night: Christmas Eve for example. Notice names for Germanic Heathen holidays that we find in the Sagas and historical sources: "Winter Nights" (Old Norse vinternätterna), "mid-winter nights" (Old Norse midvinternatten) and "three nights of Yule." The Roman historian Tacitus writes in his Germania (Chapter 11) that the Germanic peoples had a day that began with night: "Night does precede the day.” [Translation by Dr. Andreas E. Zautner]

The day was split into eight parts. 1. Midnight (ON-Old Norse miðnatti) 2. Uht (ON otta) 3. Morning (ON morgun), 4. Undern (ON undorn), 5. Midday (miðdagr) 6. After-mid-day (eptirmiðdagr) 7. Evening (ON optann) 8. Night (ON nott) [Dr. Andreas E. Zautner, The Lunisolar Calendar of the Germanic Peoples, p.16] Please note, this is a Robert Sass theory, but notice that since the 9-year sacrifice, was really done every eight years (the Romans counted different, i.e. year zero was counted, which is different from our modern method of counting), I believe this has something to do with a sequence of eight that was important to Germanic peoples. While we only have written evidence of the Swedes at Uppsala and the Danes at Lejre doing an "eight-year sacrifice" I tend to lean towards the Saxons and Norwegians and the other Germanic tribes following this practice, based on this principal of eight. Please also note, three "eights" in the Elder Futhark of 24-letters, and also three major blots a year, each lasting three nights. Also, please note that we have two Rune-Stones proving the nine-year sacrifice was every eight years: Rune Stone of Blekinge and the Rune stone of Stentoften. [See Dr. Andreas E. Zautner, The Lunisolar Calendar of the Germanic Peoples, p.154] The Poettic Edda Voluspa, stanza six, mentions night, morning, midday, undern, and evening. "So the Aldermen went to their seats, the most holy Gods to hold council. To night and the waning moon, they gave names: morning and mid-day, as well as undern and evening, to count the years." (Translation mine) Voluspa shows that night and the moon were used to count the years!


The Germanic/Scandinavian Year

The Old Saxon word for "year" is "ger" pronounced "year." The modern German word descends from this, (jahre). The Germanic Year had twelve or thirteen moons. We have many Rune Primestaffs that have 12 lunar moons. [Nordberg, 2006]. We also have the literary evidence. Einhard circa 830 CE lists 12 moons of the year in chapter 29 of Vita Karoli Magni. We also have Bede who stated in 725 CE in De Temporum Ratione (chapter 15) that "the year had two seasons, winter and summer." Bede mentions twelve moon names. Bede also said that winter and summer had "mid-points" and Bede also gives twelve moon names. The Icelandic Calendar (known as the Misseri Calendar) recorded in the 10th century CE, after 931 CE, had twelve moons as well. [Nordberg, 2006]. Bede and the Primestaffs show that the Germanic/Scandinavian year was twelve or thirteen moons, divided into two seasons, with quarter points of the year, which were mid-points of winter and summer.

The Germanic/Scandinavian Peoples counted Years by Winters. For example, we have the Old Saxon word "uuintargitalu" meaning "winter years." The year began with winter, as clearly shown in many Saga passages, the most famous of this is Ynglinga Saga ch.8 from circa 1225 CE: “Odin established the same law in his land that had been in force in Asaland… On winter day (first day of winter) there should be blot for a good year, and in the middle of winter for a good crop; and the third blot should be on summer day, a Victory-blot.” PS- Snorri consistently uses "winters old" throughout Heimskringla when giving a person's age: The Heimskingrla's Ynglinga Saga (chapter 34), “There a great blot was held and many kings came as it was midwinter. And one winter when many folks were gathered in Upsala, King Yngvar was there with his sons, who were six winters old.”

Scandinavian Peoples are Germanic Peoples. Many do not know this today. All Germanic Peoples venerated the Aesir (the Germanic Gods) before Christianization. See the below first century CE/AD map of Europe, where you can see where the Germanic Peoples lived.


The Proto-Indo-European Peoples did not have a 7-day week

Contrary to popular opinion, the seven day week originated in the middle-east, and was brought into Europe with Christianity, and the Bible's story of the world being created in six days and Yahweh resting on the seventh day. The Romans did not keep a period of time called a week until the second century. At first the Romans adopted an eight-day week, and later changed it to a seven day week. [Colson, Francis Henry (1926). The Week: An Essay on the Origin and Development of the Seven-day Cycle. Cambridge University Press] In the flood story of the Assyro-Babylonian Epic of Gilgamesh, the storm lasts for seven days, the dove is sent out after seven days, and the Noah-like character of Utnapishtim leaves the ark seven days after it reaches ground. [Copeland, Leland S. (1939). "Sources of the Seven-Day Week". Popular Astronomy.] The Greeks and Romans in the first century New Testament, did not have a Greek word for "week." The New Testament, and first and second century Greek and Latin church texts, counted days from the sabbath. For example, Matthew 28:1, which recounts the resurrection of Jesus, literally states "After the sabbath at dawn one day after the sabbath, came Mariam (Mary) Magdelene with the other Mariam (Mary) to see the tomb." To be clear, the New Testament NEVER says "on the first day of the week" but it ALWAYS says "one day from the sabbath." This is consistent throughout the New Testament. There is not a word for "week" in the New Testament, because at the time, no such word existed in the European mind. See the Greek text of Matthew 28:1 below.

Even the early church fathers in the second century were 100% consistent in counting days from the sabbath, as there was no Roman/Greek word for "week." Justin Martyr (died 165 AD) wrote in his "Dialogue with Trypho": "The first day after the Sabbath, remaining the first of all the days, is called, however, the eighth, according to the number of all the days of the cycle, and [yet] remains the first." This is a clear pattern in first and second century Greek and Roman writings! First an 8 day week was adopted (when no period of a week was known before), and then later this changed to a 7 day week.

"The weekly calendar (of 52 weeks) derives from the solar calendar." [Dr. Andreas E. Zautner, The Lunisolar Calendar of the Germanic Peoples, p.41]


The Germanic Names for the Days of the Week

Contrary to popular opinion, the names "Thor's day" "Frigge's Day", "Woden's Day" and "Tiu's Day" do not prove that Germanic and Scandinavian Peoples kept a seven day week. These names were adopted AFTER christianization, and in Christian England first. [E. G. Richards, Mapping Time, the Calendar and History, Oxford 1999. p. 269.] Let me give a full history. First, the Roman world started to adopt Christian ideas, especially as it became more and more Christian. The days of the week were named for the classical planets in Latin first. This naming system persisted alongside an "ecclesiastical" tradition of numbering the days in ecclesiastical Latin beginning with Dominica (the Lord's Day) as the first day. The Greco-Roman gods associated with the classical planets were rendered in their interpretatio germanica at some point during the late Roman Empire, yielding the Germanic tradition of names based on indigenous deities. [E. G. Richards, Mapping Time, the Calendar and History, Oxford 1999. p. 269.] Hence, in Christian England, Mars and Ares Day was equated with Tiu (Norse Tyr), and Mercury for the fourth day of the week was equated with Woden or Odin. Jupiter/Zeus was that of the fifth day of the week, and the Germanic cognate was "Thor.'" Same with the sixth day of Venus being equated with Frigge, wife of Odin. (Please note, modern eclectic neo-pagans often argue Friday was named after Freyja, but this is not the case.) Please also note, that Sunday and Monday are for the sun and moon, and Saturday was for Saturn.



The Germanic Names for the Days of the Week

Contrary to popular opinion, and shown clearly in the Eddas, Sagas, and poems in Old Saxon, the Germanic Peoples had days of the moon "waning and waxing." In Vafþrúðnismál, a poem in the Poetic Edda, we see "waxing and waning of the moon." We also see it stated that the moon and the sun were created to tell time for men: "Odin spoke: Next answer me well, if your wisdom avails, And you know well, Vafthruthnir, now: Whence came the moon, o'er the world of men, That fares, and the flaming sun?" Vafthruthnir spoke: "Mundilferi is he who created the moon, and fathered the flaming sun; The round of the sky each day they run, to tell the time for men." Othin spoke: "Third answer me well, | if wise thou art called, If thou knowest it, Vafthruthnir, now: Whence came the day, o'er mankind that fares, Or night with the waning moon?" Vafthruthnir spoke: "The father of day is Delling called, And the night was begotten by Nor; Full moon and New Moon by the gods were fashioned, To tell the time for men."


We also see in the Old Saxon Heliand, circa 830 CE, that the Old Saxons in Saxony, had days of the moon waning and waxing:


The Holidays of the Germanic Peoples

Contrary to popular opinion, the Wiccan Wheel of the Year was not the historical calendar of the Germanic Peoples.

Dr. Andreas E. Zautner: “If we browse the internet for holidays of the Germanic people, we mainly find pages presenting an octopartite year circle, the so-called ‘eight-spoked wheel of the year’ based on the solstices, the equinoxes, and four moon feasts in between. This year circle has absolutely no historical basis. Although it is very popular in neopagan circles, especially within Wicca and eclectic Asatru, there is no verified evidence for such a year circle as basis for the seasonal festivities. The same is true for the Celtic feasts within the year circle, because the Gauls too, used a lunisolar calendar as we know for the examples of Coligny and Villards d’Heria (Olmstedt, 1992). If one has internalized such ideas, one should get rid of them immediately!” [Dr. Andreas E Zautner, “The Lunisolar Calendar of the Germanic Peoples”, P.83]


So, when were the holidays of the Germanic Peoples?

The pre-christian Heathen people in Germanic/Scandinavian lands celebrated three blots a year, each lasting three days. The beginning of Winter, Mid-Winter, and the beginning of Summer were the three major blots a year. These are called "Winter Nights" "Mid-winter Nights" and "Sigrblot." As an FYI, Yule is another name for "Mid-winter Nights" and "varblot" is another name for Sigrblot. See Zautner p.120 “Odin established the same law in his land that had been in force in Asaland… On winter day (first day of winter) there should be blot for a good year, and in the middle of winter for a good crop; and the third blot should be on summer day, a Victory-blot.” [Ynglinga Saga, ch 8] "Now it is their old ways to hold a blot in haust (haustmanuthr, a moon) to welcome in the winter, a second in the middle of winter, and a third to welcome the summer." [Heimskringla Olaf's Saga Helga, The Slaying of Olvir of Egge]


"As long as heathendom lasted he was wont to hold three blood offerings: one on Winter Nights, a second at mid-Winter, and the third at the start of summer. But when he became a Christian he kept up in the same way with the feasts: In the autumn he had a great feast of friends, then in winter a Yule Feast, when he bade many men come to him again, and the third he had at Paska, when he had also a great crowd of guests." [Saga of St. Olav, ch 117].


“Midsummer festivities had no connection with the Odin Cult." [Dr. Andreas E Zautner, “The Lunisolar Calendar of the Germanic Peoples”, P.90]



Winter Nights (3 Nights that celebrate the start of the year/winter)

Dr. Andreas E. Zautner: “As previously mentioned, the Germanic Tribes started the year with the beginning of Winter, i.e. 'the Winter Nights'.” [Dr. Andreas E Zautner, “The Lunisolar Calendar of the Germanic Peoples”, P.90] Please note, that Winter Nights began on the full moon of the 10th moon of the year, called "Haustmanuthr" to the Norse peoples. Haustblot is another name for Winter Nights. Gisla saga Surssonar chapter 9: "Thorgrim meant to have a Haustblot on Winter Nights, and to blot to Frey." I am really unsure why people cannot connect Haustblot to the Norse Moon name "Haustmanuthr." This is pretty straight forward in my opinion. The Norse word "veturnóttum" is used in this passage, and also the word "haustblot." Bede stated in 725 AD in his work De Temporum Ratione ch 15: "The moon by which they began their winter season was called “Winterfylleth”, a name compounded of the terms for winter and full moon, because from the full moon of that moon winter was thought to begin." This clearly is evidence that Winter Nights (or here, "Winter-full-moon" began on a full moon. This is a smoking gun, proving without doubt the lunisolar nature of the pre-Christian Heathen calendar. This agrees with the Tacitus quote above, that the Germanic Peoples met on new and full moons. If Winter begins with Winter Nights, on a full moon, then winter must have a mid-point on a full moon, as well as an ending point, on a full moon. Simply put, Winter Nights is on a full moon, three full moons later is Yule, and three full moons after this is Sigrblot, the start of summer.

"The king received news from Trondheim about farmers holding blots on Winter Nights with great wassails. It was reported to the king that love cups were blessed honoring the Aesir according to the Old Pagan religion "fyrn sidu." Also, cattle and horses were slaughtered and altars sprinkled with their blood. The blots were accompanied with prayers for a bountiful harvest. It is also reported that the Gods were irate due to people from Halogaland converted to Christianity." [Saga of Olaf Haroldson in Heimskringla]. Gisla saga Surssonar chapter 6, last sentence, and beginning of chapter 7: "And now the summer slips away, and the first winter night was nigh at hand. Gisli made a sumble, and bade his friends to it he wished to have a gathering, and so to welcome both the winter and his friends; but he had left off all heathen blots since he had been in Viborg with Sigrhadd. He bade to the feast both the Thorkels and his cousins, the sons of Bjartmar. So that the day that the guests were looked for Gisli made ready his house."


In Iceland and Norway, Winter Nights was also a Disablot: Viga-Glum's Saga chapter 6: "At the start of winter a sumble was prepared, and a disablot in which observance all were expected to take part, but Glum sat in his place and did not attend it." It appears in Iceland that a disablot accompanied Winter Nights. Please note, I have a blog explaining that Alfablot was one full moon after Winter Nights. I need to redo this blog article. Dr. Andreas E. Zautner suggests that Alfablot was actually a part of Winter Nights. I agree with him. See Zauntner P.104. While in Scandinavia, the 10th moon of the year was called "Haustmanuthr" (Harvest Moon), in Germany, I believe the Old Saxon moon was "Uuintar-manuð." For Saxon Heathens, Widukind of Corvey in the 10th century reports that the Saxons had an annual "Feast of Three Days" but he re-iterated that it was a feast for victory over the Thuringians. [Golther, 1895] Therefore, is this the second Old Saxon reference to Sigrblot? (A three day feast for victory?) The first reference would be from the early 8th century The Indiculus superstitionum et paganiarum, which mentions a victory blot amongst banned Heathen practices. This is in the same manuscript as the Old Saxon Baptismal Vow.

Jomsvikinga Saga references the "third Winter Night."

"I swear that before the third Winter Night has past I shall drive Aðalráð, king of England, from his kingdom or kill him otherwise and so gain possession of his domain. Now it's your turn, Sigvaldi, and let your vow be as far reaching as mine.' He said that so it should be. 'Your majesty, I swear,' he said, 'that before the third Winter Night has past I shall ravage Norway with as many men as I can assemble and drive Earl Hakon out of the land or kill him; or else my lifeless body will remain in Norway."


Vala-Ljots Saga:

"Ja," segir Guðmundr, "sé ek, at þú þykkist vel leikit hafa, enn svá segir mér hugr um, at rautt mun sjá í skorina fyrir hinar þriðju vetrnætr.

"Well," says Guðmundur, "I see that you pretend to have played well, and yet I have the courage to say that red will be seen in the score for the third winter night."




The Three Nights of Yule/Mid-winter

Heimskringla Saga, Magnus the Blind, Chapter 6: “On the eve of Yule (jólaaftan) King Harald came to Björgyn and brought his ships into Floruvagar. He would not fight during Yule because of its holiness. But King Magnus got ready for him in the town. He had a sling raised out on Holm and he had chains made of iron and partly of tree stocks; he had these laid across the Vag from the king’s residence. He had foot-traps forged and cast over Jonsvolds, and Yule was kept holy for only three days, when no work was done.” The Saga of Hakon the Good, chapter 15, records the christianization of Yule moving Yule from the full moon of Jolmanuthr, called Hokunott, to be on Dec 25th, the solstice of the Julian calendar. This is why Xmas is called "Jul" in Scandinavia today: "King Hakon was a good Christian when he came to Norway; but as the whole country was heathen, with much heathen blot, and as many great people, as well as the favor of the common people, were to be conciliated, he resolved to practice his Christianity in private. But he kept Sundays, and the Friday fasts, and some token of the greatest holy-days. He made a law that the festival of Yule should begin at the same time as Christian people held it, and that every man, under penalty, should brew a meal of malt into ale, and therewith keep the Yule holy as long as it lasted. Before him, the first night of Yule was on hǫkunótt, that is midwinter night, and Yule was held for three nights" Please note, Yule was on hokunott *(a night, showing a night as the beginning of Yule/Day aspect). Sine Yule was originally on hokunott, and it was moved to be at the same time as xmas, it is clear Yule was not historically on the solstice. Thietmar of Merseburg, who celebrated the birth of Jesus on the Greek orthodox Xmas of January sixth, says Yule was even after January 6th. According to Thietmar, Yule was celebrated in January, after Epiphany, the Greek orthodox Christmas, and that every 8 years, Yule was accompanied with the 8-year sacrifice. The Chronicon of Thietmar of Merseburg Chapter 17 (circa 925 AD): "As I have heard odd stories concerning their ancient mid-winter blots, I will not allow this custom to be ignored. The middle of that kingdom is called Lederun (Lejre), in the region of Sjælland, all the people gathered every nine years in January, that is after we have celebrated the birth of the Lord, and there they offered to their gods blots…” We have two Rune-Stones proving the 9-year sacrifice was every eight years: Rune Stone of Blekinge and the Rune stone of Stentoften. [See Dr. Andreas E. Zautner, The Lunisolar Calendar of the Germanic Peoples, p.154]


Dr. Andreas Nordberg, the world’s foremost scholar on Norse Holidays, makes clear in his book on the dating of Yule: “The pre-Christian Yule feast occurs at the first full moon after the first new moon following the winter solstice, while the disting took place at the third full moon according to the same method of calculation.” [Jul, disting och förkyrklig tideräkning Kalendrar och kalendariska riter i det förkristna Norden Uppsala 2006, P.4] Dr. Andreas E Zautner in his book: "The Lunisolar Calendar of the Germanic People's: reconstruction of a bound moon calendar from ancient medieval and early modern sources"

Chapter 10.2.2: "It is a common misinterpretation to think it happened (midwinter) on the winter solstice. According to the primstaff, the midwinter feast was celebrated in the so-called 'hökunótt' on January 12, thus it has been a calendar fixed date in the middle of the Julian month. Applying a lunar calendar, this is the full moon date, also in accord with the Jól moon and Disting rules, this time in the first lunar moon (of the year, beginning after the solstice)."

The Ynglinga Saga (chapter 34), from the year 1225: “There a great blot was held and many kings came as it was midwinter. And one winter when many folks were gathered in Upsala, King Yngvar was there with his sons, who were six winters old.”


The Saga of Halvdan the Black (chapter 8): “King Halvdan kept Yule (Icelandic: jólaveizlu) in Hadeland. There on the evening of Yule (Icelandic jólaaptan), a strange thing happened; when the men were gone to the table, and a great gathering was present, all the food and ale vanished from the table.”


The Saga of Harald Hairfair (chapter 25): "King Harald went one winter a-feasting in the Uplands and had a Yule feast made ready for himself in Toftar. On the eve of Yule, Svasi came without the door whilst the king was at the table and he sent a messenger to the king to go out to him."


Chapter 13 of the saga "Hakon the Good": “King Hacon had a Yule feast (Icelandic: jólaveislu) in Trondheim, which Sigurd the Jarl had made ready for him at Lade. The first night of Yule (Icelandic: jólanótt), the jarl's wife Bergliot gave birth to a boy. The day after, King Hacon sprinkled water on the boy and gave him his name.”


33 mentions of Yule in the Saga of Saint Olav, however, sometimes this word is used to describe Xmas and not Heathen Yule. Therefore, you have to read the context of the sections of this saga, as the word "jol" is also the word for Christmas in Scandinavian countries. If they are going to Mass on Yule, it is Christmas (obviously, as the word "Christmas" means "Christ Mass.")


Saga of Saint Olav chapter 41: “Swein the Jarl was then in Trondheim at Steinker and had a Yule feast (Icelandic: jólaveizlu) made ready there. It was a market town.” Chapter 61: “He held a great Yule feast (Icelandic: jólaboð), and bade to it many great bonders from the lordships.” Chapter 108: “The king brought this charge against the bonders that they had held a midwinter blot. Ölvir answered and said that the bonders were blameless in that; "we had”, he said, “a Yule feast and drinkings together far about in the lordships; the bonders do not prepare themselves so scantily for the Yule feast that there is not much left over; what was left they drank up a long time after, my lord. Chapter 141: “There was a great Yule feast and great ale drinking. In the village there were many bonders and they all drank together during Yule.”


Chapter 98 of Saga Harald Hardrade “I will take”, he said, “certain possessions which lie near the market towns where you, my lord, are wont to sit and hold Yule feasts (Jólaveizlr)”. On Yule eve a boar would be led into the palace, and oaths would be sworn upon his bristles. See the Hervarar saga, chapter 10, which lists the sonargǫltr or sónargǫltr , i.e. the Yule boar: Hervarar saga, chapter 10: "In the King's retinue there were seven men whose duty it was to decide all the disputes that arose in that country. King Heithrek worshipped Frey, and he used to give Frey the biggest boar he could find. They regarded it as so sacred that in all important cases they used to take the oath on its bristles. It was the custom to sacrifice this boar at the 'sacrifice of the herd.' On Yule Eve the 'boar of the herd' was led into the hall before the King. Then men laid their hands on his bristles and made solemn vows. King Heithrek himself made a vow that however deeply a man should have wronged him, if he came into his power he should not be deprived of the chance of receiving a trial by the King's judges; but he should get off scot free if he could propound riddles which the King could not answer. But when people tried to ask the King riddles, not one was put to him which he could not solve."


Sigrblot (Victory Blot), also called "Summer Blot."

The third and final major blot of the year is the blot to celebrate the start of summer, called "summer blot" or "sigrblot." Here are the two most famous Saga passages on Sigurblot.


Ynglinga Saga (chapter 8), from the year 1225, lists the three great blots of the year: “Odin established the same law in his land that had been in force in Asaland… On winter day (first day of winter) there should be blot for a good year, and in the middle of winter for a good crop; and the third blot should be on summer day, a Victory-blot.” Please note, Sigurblot or Sigrblot, means "victory blot."


Heimskringla Olaf’s Saga Helga 77 “In Sweden there was an age-old custom whilst they were still heathen that there should be a blot in Upsala during Goa moon. Then they would blot for peace and victory for their king. People from all over Sweden were to resort there.” Please note, some argue this passage has to do with Swedish Disting due to the post-Christian Icelandic Misseri calendar. However, I argue that this passage is about Sigrblot. Sigrblot means "victory blot" and this passage mentions a blot for "peace and victory." Disting is a "Thing", not a blot. The issue here is that DistingTungl was dropped from the Misseri Calendar, so the moon Snorri is referring to here is the Swedish Lunar Moon "Goje", which in Icelandic is "Goa."


And in addition to this, the The Indiculus superstitionum et paganiarum, a list in the early eighth century CE of Heathen behaviors outlawed in "Germania" also lists a Victory Blot *(Sigrblot.) Therefore, the Old Saxons certainly kept Winter Nights (Winter Full Moon), Yule, and Sigrblot, along with their Germanic cousins in Scandinavia.


Disting (Sweden) and Althing in Old Saxony

While Disting is not a blot, it was still an important time in Scandinavia, especially Sweden. We also have evidence of the Old Saxon version of Disting, their annual Thing, probably held at the same time as Swedish Disting. Please note, "Disting" is a compound word, combining the word "Disir" meaning "female ancestral spirits" and the word for court hearing, "Thing."

Dr. Andreas Nordberg states the world’s foremost scholar on Norse Holidays, makes clear in his book on the dating of Yule that “The pre-Christian Yule feast occurs at the first full moon after the first new moon following the winter solstice, while the disting took place at the third full moon according to the same method of calculation.” [Jul, disting och förkyrklig tideräkning Kalendrar och kalendariska riter i det förkristna Norden Uppsala 2006, P.4] Most scholars, believe the Saxon Althing at Marklo, was at the time of Disting. While we do not have the literary or archaeological evidence to prove this without doubt, I would be surprised if the Saxons held their Althing at a different time than the Swedes. We do see from the literary evidence, that the Althing had to have been before the time of war in Germanic Saxony, therefore, to argue that this happened just before summer began, makes sense, especially since this was the same time as Swedish Disting.

Lebuini Antiqua 4, THE LIFE OF ST. LEBUIN, 9th Century AD “In olden times the Saxons had no king but appointed rulers over each village; and their custom was to hold a general meeting once a year in the center of Saxony near the river Weser at a place called Marklo. There all the leaders used to gather together, and they were joined by twelve noblemen from each village with as many freedmen and serfs. There they confirmed the laws, gave judgment on outstanding cases and by common consent drew up plans for the coming year on which they could act either in peace or war....When the day of the meeting came around, all the leaders were present, as were others whose duty it was to attend. Then, when they had gathered together, they first offered up prayers to their gods, as is their custom, asking them to protect their country and to guide them in making decrees both useful to themselves and pleasing to the gods. Then when a circle had been formed they began the discussions”


Bede - Ecclesiastical History of the English People (731 AD) “For these Old Saxons have no king, but several lords who are set over the nation. Whenever war is imminent, these cast lots impartially, and the one on whom the lot falls is followed and obeyed by all for the duration of the war; but as soon as the war ends, the lords revert to equality of status.”



Evidence Mid-summer was not a blot/holiday

Bede, when he writes the Heathen calendar in his De Temporum Ratione in 725 CE/AD, mentioned Winter Full Moon as the start of Winter (*cognate to Norse winter Nights), and Bede also mentioned a start of Summer six moons after Winter Full Moon. But Bede did not mention a "mid-summer ritual" (or a Yule ritual.) Bede said that the time of Summer was for traveling. The word "litha" is found in Old Saxon literature in northern Germany. "Seolithandeon" is an Old Saxon word that means "sea-farers." It is clear, summer was not a time of ritual for Germanic peoples, but a time of travel, trade, and agriculture, getting enough food and clothing (from hunting) to survive the upcoming cold winter. “Midsummer festivities had no connection with the Odin Cult." [Dr. Andreas E Zautner, “The Lunisolar Calendar of the Germanic Peoples”, P.90] “Odin established the same law in his land that had been in force in Asaland… On winter day (first day of winter) there should be blot for a good year, and in the middle of winter for a good crop; and the third blot should be on summer day, a Victory-blot.” [Ynglinga Saga, ch 8] "In the interior of Trondheim, all the people are of pure Heathen belief, though a small number have been baptised. Now it is their Old Ways to hold a blot in haust (haustmanuthr, a moon) to welcome in the winter, a second in the middle of winter, and a third to welcome the summer." [Heimskringla Olaf's Saga Helga, The Slaying of Olvir of Egge]


"As long as heathendom lasted he was wont to hold three blood offerings: one on Winter Nights, a second at mid-Winter, and the third at the start of summer. But when he became a Christian he kept up in the same way with the feasts: In the autumn he had a great feast of friends, then in winter a Yule Feast, when he bade many men come to him again, and the third he had at Paska, when he had also a great crowd of guests." [Saga of St. Olav, ch 117].


We do however, have ONE, and only ONE mention of a mid-summer blot in the Sagas. To understand this passage, one has to understand two christian holidays: Christmas, on the Julian Calendar's Solstice of December 25th, and St. John's Day, the day the Catholic Church claimed St. John the Baptist was born on, the Julian Calendar's summer solstice of June 24th. Dr. Andreas E. Zautner, clearly shows that this ONE and ONLY mention of a Mid-summer blot was done as a conversion of people to Christianity. What I mean is, a careful reading of this saga passage, shows that a king was trying to push people to adopt Christianity, and the people finally gave in, doing St. John's day of Christianity, but in the form of a mid-summer blot. Dr. Zautner correctly concludes in his book "The Lunisolar Calendar of the Germanic Peoples" on pages 125-127, that the Norwegians did a blot to St John on St. John's Day, and therefore, this should not be taken as evidence that any Germanic Peoples celebrated Mid-Summer, which became a Scandinavian and European Christian holiday in honor of the birth of John the Baptist, only with the Christianization of Europe. Here is the only reference to Mid-summer as a blot in the entirety of Germanic literature, and it is clear from this passage that it was part of converstion to Christianity, and is clearly a St. John's Day solstice blot.

Heimskringla Olaf's Saga Trygvassonar, ch 72: "In summer, king Olaf gathered a great host from the east of the country and went northwards with them to Trondheim. First he landed at the mouth of the Nid. Then he proclaimed a Thing for all the Trondheim Fjord and called the assembly of the eight districts in Frosta. However the farmers took the invitation of the king as a call to war. They called free and unfree men from all over Trondheim. The farmers came fully armed when the king arrived at the Thing. After opening the Thing, the king spoke to the people and ordered them to adopt Christianity. After he had spoken for only a short while, the farmers interrupted him with shouts and ordered the king to be silent. They threatened to attack him and drive him out of the country. 'This we also did to Hakon Ethelstan's foster son when he had the same idea of us following the christ, and we do not value you higher than him' they shouted. King Olaf saw the wrath of the farmers and that they had a great army. He found he could not fight them so he calmed his words and behaved as if he was to yield to the farmer's will. He said: 'I would like us to retain the good understanding we always had. I will go to your biggest blot place and look at your heathen customs (forn sithr). Then we will decide what custom/religion that we will keep and we can speak about this further." When the king spoke mildly to the farmers, they became more placid and the debate was peaceful thereafter. Finally, it was decided that a midsummer blot should be done a Maere. All leaders and farmers should come as the tradition wanted, and king Olaf was to go there as well."

I side with Dr. Zautner, that the farmers converted to doing St. John's day. Dr. Zautner on page 126 of his book then argues that this was one of the important milestones for making St. John's Day important and holy in Scandinavia. Combined with the fact that king Hakon the Good of Norway, and other Christian Kings of Norway replaced Yule with Xmas, by moving Yule to be at the same time as Xmas, calling a "new" blot at the summer solstice (as Xmas was on the winter solstice on the Julian Calendar), it is quite clear this was the pattern of Christianization in Scandinavia. Before I conclude this article, I need to mention that Bede in his De Temporum Ratione, ch15 from the year 715 CE, claims that the Anglish in England kept a Blood Moon ritual, of doing blots for food for the winter and animal skins for clothing. The Essen Necrology, a document in Old Saxon, lists in the 9th century, Saxon Christians who died each month at a church in southern Saxony. This is important, because it mentions two continental Old Saxon moon names that tie to Bede's calendar: Blodmanuth and Halegmanuth. Since Blodmanuth is clearly cognate to the Old English Blood Moon, it is pretty likely the Saxons in Old Saxony, which shared this moon name with the Angles in England, probably also did Blood Moon blots. This is "educated guesswork" in fairness, but I would like this calendar blog article to be comprehensive. And in addition to this, the The Indiculus superstitionum et paganiarum, a list in the early eighth century CE of Heathen behaviors outlawed in "Germania" also lists a Victory Blot *(Sigrblot.) Therefore, the Old Saxons certainly kept Winter Nights (Winter Full Moon), Yule, and Sigrblot, along with their Germanic cousins in Scandinavia. Please join us in the Facebook Group: Aldsidu: Saxon Heathenry, and please visit the Aldsidu YouTube channel ran by Robert Sass. Thank you. I dedicate this blog article and two decades of research to my father, Gerald Sass, son of Albert Friedrich August Sass, son of Friedrich Heinrich Wilhelm Sass, son of Johann Jakob Sass, son of Johann Sass. I will boast in Sumble and hail the Old Saxon Gods, and the deeds of my Ancestors!


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