Saturday 2 January 2016

winterval oder raunächte

The Twelve Days of Christmas (or Raunächte as its called in Germanic-speaking lands) which presently coincides with the period from Christmas Day until the Feast of the Epiphany when the Magi arrive from the East (Drei Königs Tag) has very ancient roots and is steeped in traditions and customs, yet in practise if not rather commandeered.
The term has a two-fold meaning suggesting the fireworks, smokers and clamour (Räucherwerk) used to ward off evil spirits and the old German word “rûch” for hoary or hairy for the mantles of demons that populate the clouds and shadows, should one indulge a bit and delineates the time when Odin (Wotan) embarks on his astral wild hunt (Wilde Jagd).  The New Year greeting Guten Rutsch! has a different etymology and it’s ill-advised to look up and stare off at the sky, lest one’s imagination should get the better of him. This period was recognised as especially conducive to other-worldly encounters as hardest days of Winter, being put into abeyance once again with the Solstice (the Feast of Saint Thomas as well), and the customs associated with this time of reflection and cleansing as it also marked the eleven days (twelve nights) that the lunar year lagged behind the solar year, depending on one’s reckoning. The clutch of good luck charms for the new year includes the psychotropic speckled agaric mushroom, which grow where Odin’s steeds’ hooves fall. Whether the god was riding some anatomically normal horse or the eight-legged Sleipnir (eight tiny reindeer), I suppose, indicated for foragers whether or not it would be bountiful year.