Vetrnætr (Winter Nights)
Winter Nights or Old Norse Vetrnætr was a Norse winter festival that was initially celebrated in pre-Christian Scandinavia. It was said bySnorri Sturluson that Winter Nights is one of the three most important festivals. This festival also marks the end of the summer and start of the winter meaning the end of the harvest work and it was a time to celebrate. The festival is celebrated by some Neo-pagans today.
External imageA Neo-pagan Winter Nights altar
Personally i would rather call the Vetrnaetr a period of festivals than “a festival” (singular).*The Alfablot is very ancestral, to the elves and Odin (and i incorpotate Freya since they are both psychopomps) and more than that, it is very private.It was usually the family, houshold or similar small group celebrating it (after all , it involves their ancestors).I have been invited to a number of blots by different people and groups, but NEVER to an Alfablot.(Autumn around “Halloween” , Samhain and similar customs)
*Yule is more of a midwinterthing and in the Nordic ciountries it looks (and looked) more or less as the Nordic Christian Christmas with a smorgosboard (= feast ) consisting of ale and other alcohol (later “Glögg”, a Nordic Gluewein, that is wine with spices served hot came into tradition and with destillery so did “Brännvin” which is more or less Vodka or Schnapps) fatty meats, especially pork in all it´s forms and a Yule ham takes the place of the turkey traditional in many countries.A Yule Goat is also traditional, made of straw it is a part of decoration.So Goat (Thor) Pork (Freyr) Straw (Harvest) are in a sense shared by Heathen, Christian and Secular people in the Nordic countries.(Christmas to Newyears, Late Dec to early Jan)
*Disablot is to the Norns/Valkyries, and i would personally theorize (based on the strong veneration in other Indo European pre Christian cultures of the personal Genius) that it was also for the personal Fylgjor of the participants (note that there is a host of “Fates” or Norns. Three basic ones but then a number of them for groups of people and finally a personal one).This was a time for hope of a new year of harvest and fertility.In some parts the rituals seems to have been performed by women, among the Sviar (Swedes) it was performed by the king at the great Disathing (which is still held at Uppsala, though for non Heathen Swedes it is simply a market).
(Late Febr to March)
External imageThe celebration lives on as an annual market inUppsala, Sweden. A scene from the disting of 2008.
Julbock Photo: http://www.scandinavian-south.com/index.htmlAll others: Open Source