Three days into the celebration of Yule and I am feeling somewhat burned out. I originally planned to celebrate Yule and Nativity with the kids. Now, as I am sitting here on the evening of the third day of Yule, I honestly don't think I have the energy to go for the whole 17 days. Having the overlap between Yule and Nativity is pretty cool. It makes less stuff to worry about, but I am finding that it is taking a lot of energy to get stuff for this done and manage the household needs along with the remaining stuff I need to take care of for presents.
I spent the night before the Solstice meditating on the Disir. I put out some offerings just for them that evening. The night before the Solstice is known as Mother's Night. In ancient times, rituals were done to honor the ancestral mothers, known collectively as the Disir. I presume that Freyja was honored as well because she is the Vanadis and I am confident that Frigga was honored at this time. Dame Hulda (Holda, Bertcha, and many other names) is honored at this time as well. She is described alternately as a grandmotherly figure or a stern goddess known as the Lady in White. There is a good amount of folklore about Dame Hulda.
It is said that from Mother's Night to Distaff day (Jan 2) women took a holiday from their household labors, except for that which was needful. The practice of spinning was one that was notably suspended. Different opinions as to what Dame Hulda would do if she found a distaff still loaded come from different regions where she was honored. Some said that for each thread of fiber found left on the distaff, Dame Hulda would bring misfortune to the mistress of the distaff. Others said that for each thread of fiber, she would bless the owner of the distaff. Honestly, I fall on the blessing side of the ledger. But that is only because it has been my experience.
I have been giving the kids little gifts each day of Yule. We're saving the big gifts for the 25th. The rest of the extended family celebrates Christmas. It is also the first day of Nativity. Thus, we're doing the big presents from us and 'from' Odin that day. I think it will help make the holidays less confusing for them. As much as I want to do something special and unique for Nativity, I anticipate being exhausted.
Nativity is the date of the birth of the Daughter. It is a twelve day celebration. It includes the date of the Daughter's birth, the feast of Epiphany, and the day known as Duodecima or 3 Princesses day. I find myself sliding into the habit of referring to Duodecima as 3 Queen's day. It is a bit of a departure from the canon but it just feels correct. And considering that Duodecima is celebrated with Queen cakes (which are sweet heart shaped cakes) the use of the word queen only makes more sense.
The mythos surrounding Nativity eve and Nativity are in many ways parallels to modern mythos of Chrismas. At Nativity eve, the Mother Marya is understood to enter into the Cave of the World to birth her Daughter Anna*. This birth takes place at the dawning of Nativity day. The story of Nativity is beautiful and charming in its simplicity. While the story could be argued to begin with the Conception, the feast of Conception is approximately two weeks before the festival of Nativity begins.
I don't think the separation of the Conception from Nativity diminishes either. It is my understanding that the Conception is separate to reflect the importance of this event and the wonder of it, I also think this is something that is separated so that it is not lost in the Nativity narrative or somehow not given proper consideration. From a theological standpoint the mythos of Nativity is a logical extension of the mythos of creation, which is celebrated in the season of autumn. All of this, however, is better suited for its own post.
Some of the folklore that surrounds Nativity eve is similar to the secular folklore of the Western world. There is a demigoddess figure known as the Star Fairy. She is considered the Queen of the Air Fairies (some argue of all Fairies) and she goes from household to household on Nativity eve blessing each home. She rides in a chariot drawn by eight white horses and she is dressed entirely in white. It is said that she gives gifts to children who are virtuous and leaves a switch for children who are not. She is said to enter the home by coming down the chimney. In many ways, she is like the figure of Santa Claus. I like to think of her as a cross between Queen Mab and Santa, actually.
My children haven't been introduced to the concept of the Star Fairy yet. I am not sure how to approach it. I view the Star Fairy as an embodiment of the holiday spirit. Much like how others view Santa Claus. (I have some issues surrounding Santa Claus, but if I were able to suspend them, I would view Santa the same way.)
* The orthodox Filyani spell the Daughter's proper name as Inanna. I use Anna for two reasons. One it is a logical derivative of the name Inanna and the etymology makes sense. Two, the Daughter of Filianism is different from the Sumerian goddess Inanna and I don't want to accidentally invoke one when I'm trying to reach the other. Awkward things would happen with that, at best.