primstav

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Primstav (or Runestav) are traditional Scandinavian calendar sticks dating back to at least the 12th century (and perhaps further). They are used to chart the Runic Calendar.

At the first full moon after midwinter solstice a new primstav is started to mark the beginning of the year and counts through a 7 day cycle (much the same as the Gregorian calendar) usually marked with runes to signify the weekdays (in the case of a runestav) or marked with images (for a primstav), such as the carved horn (in the last picture) that represents Julaften. The first image in the same picture is for the midwinter solstice.

Såmmårmål!

Today we turned the primstav to the summer side.

This day is called “summer-measure”, “summer-measure day”, “first day of summer” etc., etc. - depending on where in Norway you find yourself. And tonight we celebrate, holding a “summer-night” feast. That is, those of us who remember. “Summer-night” is the last of three summer-nights. Interestingly enough, the other two don’t seem to have names, we just say on the 12th that “Yeh, so now begin the summer-nights.” and tomorrow we will say “Yeh, well, and then it’s summer.”

If I recall correctly, only Norwegians and our distant cousins the Icelanders have this ancient - pre-Christian - custom of dividing the year in two “measures”, summer and winter.

In Western Norway this day has up until very recently been a holy day where you had a day off from school or work - it was actually prohibited to work. In other parts of the country it has been held as “half holy”, meaning that you could work with some things - if you wanted or needed - but not with others, and with a regulated job you were allowed to work only half day.

As the weather is today - we say many places in around where I am from - the weather will continue to be for three weeks. In the valleys south of the mountains they say “As the weather is today, so will the harvest be.” The next county northwards they use the three summer-nights to predict the August weather. “Frost on summer-night, gives another 30 days of frost,” they say in Korgen. In Salten they said that summer-night frost would give three nights of frost; on the Eve of St. John (jonsok), on the Eve of St. Olav (olsok) and on the Eve of St. Bartholomeus (barsok) - the “ok” part in the Norwegian names of these Eves, is a corruption of “våk” or “vake” (or something similar, depending on dialect), cognate of English “wake”.

If you haven’t already, it is high time to “sande” or “molde” your fields. That is, throw sand or soil on the snow to help the sun melt it faster. However, if it snows today or during the night, there will be another nine days of snow.

Yeh, we read signs from everything in Scandinavia.

She who keeps Cattle, must on this Day not taste any Kind of Meat Food, nor must those who are to herd the Cattle in Summer eat Meat, or else the Wolf and the Bear will have Power over the Cattle this Summer.

- Trollkatt totally paraphrasing in English for your convenience what is written in the Norwegian almanac Norsk folkekalender from 1859.

When I say “cattle”, I mean it as a catch-all for all kinds of livestock - cows, sheep, goats, hens, reindeer, whatever. We say “fe” in Norwegian - and, yeh, that is also the first rune in the futhark. And - now, where was I - if this happens - that you eat meat today - it is no point in trying to “bind” the wolf and bear through magic, because the damage is already done; the magic will not work.

To avoid having certain accidents befall the cattle or the harvest during summer, you are also not supposed to do things where you have to make circular or stabbing movements today (sharpen tools, grind flour, spin yarn, sew, etc.). Circular movements make the cattle confused and lose their way in the woods, milk badly or not at all, and I am sure you can guess what using sharp, stabbing objects might do to them!

But it is a great day for cleaning out the tools for milking and for churning and cheese making. It is also luck generating to churn a bit and make some cheese later in the day after the tools have dried.

I could go on, but long post is long.

So, yeh, tonight is bread-and-cheese night. We have some - very wrinkly - apples from last year to slice and put on top too. We - or I - could have made all kinds of nice rich porridges and such, but I’m not in a place where this is feasable. Besides, the Italian butter? Isn’t butter.

God sommer!