On the 22nd of December is Winter Solstice.  It can also be on the 21st of December depending on the turning of the sun, however, the day of the 22nd is considered the shortest of the year.  The 13th of December used to be considered the shortest day when the Julian calendar was in use.  It wasn’t until around 1700, when Norway adopted the Gregorian calendar, that the shortest day moved to the 22nd of December.  The farmer’s primstav mark for this day was a sun wheel.

This day had many rules and customs but the superstitions of this day have primarily stayed with Lucia Night due to the calendar displacement.  In Norse time it was customary to have a bonfire at each solstice to celebrate the sun and invite protection from evil.  According to tradition all kinds of evil powers would arise at the turning of the sun.  The most important rule was that one should not do work with objects that turned such as spinning wheels, driving a horse and carriage and grinding. It was thought that at the moment the sun turned, water could turn into wine then vinegar and then return to water again, but this happened so fast that no one could see the change.  Brewing beer at solstice wasn’t wise because if the evil spirits got into the beer it would run out before Christmas.  Animals that had got their horns stuck could break loose at the moment of the turning sun but they needed to be quick otherwise they would remain stuck.  The women would stay up all night baking for Christmas and the servents recieved one cake each.

From this day it was mandatory to observe Christmas holiday, or peace, which generally lasted for three weeks. 

Related posts: