On the 25th of November was St Katharina’s (Kari) Mass. It was also known by farmer’s as ‘Kari with the reel’. This is because the wheel mark on the farmer’s primstav, which represented the torture wheel that St Katharina was crushed by, was interpreted as a spinning reel. Other symbols also included a sword, a crown, or a flour-bin.
This was the day to start spinning wicks for Christmas candles. There were many rules and warnings in their making:
– you had to smile while making candles – if you had a sour face while making them then they would turn out sour too
– if you went out to pee during your candle work then your candles would start dripping.
– in many places they would burn the stick holding the candle wicks. This was to prevent the troll-cats from stealing them. The troll-cats would use the candles for feet and tread off into the barn and suck the milk out of the cows.
– but if the weather was clear on this day the Christmas candles would turn out beautiful.
In some places in Norway this was the day to start the laundry for Christmas so the day is also known as ‘Kari wash’.