As The Wheel Turns ~ Legends and Lore
Today Is . . .
Twelfth Day (aka Twelfthtide)
Blessing of the Waters (Turkey)
King of the Bean (aka Bean Day)
Apple Tree Day
La Befana (Italy)
Maroon Festival (Jamaica)
Greek Cross Day
Three King’s Day
Feast of Aesculapius (Greek God of Healing)
Perch Tenlauf (Austria)
Take a Poet to Lunch Day
Children’s Day (Uruguay)
St. Peter Baptist’s Day (patron of Japan)
Army Day (Iraq)
St. Balthazar, Caspar, and Melchoir’s Day (patron of travelers)
Old Christmas Day
St. Macra’s Day (patron against breast disease)
National Shortbread Day
Day of the Triple Goddess ~ On this date in the year 1988, Circle Sanctuary of Mount Horeb, Wisconsin, became legally recognized as a Wiccan Church by its local Township and County levels of government. Circle Sanctuary’s attainment of church zoning was a significant victory for Wiccans around the world, for it was the first time a Witchcraft group had been publicly sanctioned as a church by local government officials!
Christian/Pagan: Epiphany, Twelfth Night, Three Kings Day, Tirer Gâteau/Les rois (Voudun)
Greek: The sixth day of each month is sacred to the Goddess Artemis.
Greek/Roman: Koreion, the festival of Kore, also known as Persephone. In Roman-occupied Alexandria, water was drawn from
the Nile as part of the ceremonies. Theodosia celebrated the Gift of God on the island of Andros of ancient Greece, when it
is said that the water drawn of the spring nearby and drunk at the temple of Dionysos tasted like wine, starting on this day
and continuing for a week. The miraculous birth of Aion (Aeon), Kore’s child of a virgin birth, was associated with Dionysus and
Sarapis, and this may be why Christians associate the Epiphany of January 6th with the miracle at the wedding feast of Cana,
when Jesus turned water into wine (of even better quality than the wine which had been served by the family of the newlyweds!).
Although the celebration of Aeon’s birth to Kore is far older than the story of Mary giving birth to Jesus, Christians were
scornful of it and thought it mocked the story of the birth of the Christ child. They were also disgusted with the ritual where
the naked statue of Kore was brought up from underground, adorned with jewels, and paraded around Her temple seven times
for protection. Despite their scorn, Christ’s birth was celebrated on the date of the Koreion, January 6th, rather than
December 25th, until the fourth century.
Celtic: Day of the Three-Fold Goddesses: Maiden, Mother, Crone.
Slavic Pagan: Turisi ~ Procines (January) 6
Turisi is the holiday of the bull, Jar-tur, a symbol of the powerful forces of life and fertility. People
celebrate by wearing masks and parading in imitation of the Great Bull. Young and old alike join in playing games, ending
the New Year holiday. http://www.irminsul.org/arc/010sz.html
Koreion – An early Church father, St Epiphanius complained that in Alexandria in the temple of Kore-Persephone, a hideous mockery was enacted on Epiphany. “And if anyone asks them what manner of mysteries these might be, they reply saying, ‘Today at this hour, Kore, that is the virgin, has given birth to Aeon.’” Part of the ritual involved bringing the naked statue of the Kore up from underground, adorning Her with jewels and parading Her around the temple seven times for protection.
Despite Epiphanius’s scorn, the myth of Kore giving birth to Aeon, the year-god, is much older than the story of Mary giving birth to Jesus which he thought it mocked. Until the fourth century, Christ’s birth was celebrated on January 6th rather than December 25th. Source: Rahner, Greek Myths and Christian Mystery
Epiphany – The Epiphany (which means apparition or manifestation) honors the arrival of the Magi and the first public presentation of the Baby Jesus. In Belgium, children dress up as the Three Kings and go from door to door singing a begging song. In Spain, the Magi leave gifts in the shoes children have set out on balconies or by the front door the previous evening, filled with straw and grain for the camels. Children who awaken to find a charcoal mark on their face are said to have been kissed by Balthazar. Since the twelve nights of Christmas are a liminal time, when evil spirits, like the Greek kalikatzari, can roam the earth, people protect their houses by chalking the Three King’s initials C or K (in Hungary G), B and M (for Caspar, Balthazar and Melchoir) on their doors.
In Bulgaria, housewives rise early and carry the family crucifix, icons and plough to the village fountain. There they wash them with salt and water saying, “May the wheat be as white as the plough, as wholesome as the salt.” The clergy also bless homes with holy water. If the water freezes on the priest’s boxwood whisk, the year will be good and the crops fruitful.
In Danube port towns, they bless the waters. In Philippopolis, the most important town of southern Bulgaria, the priest throws the cross from the bridge into the Maritza River. The man who recovers it is allowed to take it around from house to house and receive money gifts, then returns it to the priest who bestows his blessing.
A similar blessing happens in Hungary only the priest uses salt and water and blesses houses and puts the initials of the three kings (K, M and B for Kaspar, Balthazar and Melchior) on the doorstep.
Italians believe that animals can talk on the night of Epiphany so owners feed them well. Fountains and rivers in Calabria run with olive oil and wine and everything turns.
Shakespeare’s Twelfth Night
Shakespeare’s play Twelfth Night was written in 1600 for the popular celebrations that used to take place in Britain on January 5, the Twelfth Night revels.
The Bean King
In olden times, a bean (or a pea or a penny) was baked into the Twelfth Cake eaten on Twelfth Day, January 6. As the ancient Romans used to do at the festival of Saturn at this time of year, people elected a “king” for the day. The British had their “king” when someone found the bean in his slice of cake.
Old British customs for Twelfth Night abound, with scholars telling us some are Roman and some probably Druidic. A “king” was elected for the evening, and went through the house chalking crosses on the rafters against devils. After this, the master and mistress of the house went about the home with a pan of incense, a candle and a loaf to prevent witchcraft.
Who were the Magi?
The Wise Men of the East who brought gifts to the baby Jesus are known as the Magi (Latin for wise men). Tradition calls them Melchior, Caspar or Gaspar, and Balthasar. They offered gold (emblem of royalty), frankincense (divinity) and myrrh (woe and death). The latter, a herb used in mummification and embalming, symbolised the persecution Jesus would receive, that would even take him to death.
In Cyprus the souls of unbaptized babies, kalikandjari, arrive on Christmas day and leave tonight. They are evil demons who steal infants. Tonight housewives customarily knead pastry dough in total silence, frying it up and flinging it on the roof for the kalikandjari, while they sang,
Little piece, piece of sausage,
Knife with a black handle,
Piece of pancake,
Eat and let us go.
The period from Epiphany (January 6), until Shrove (or, Pancake) Tuesday (Mardi Gras in French) is called Carnival. In Roman Catholic countries it is a period for amusement and revelry, hence the fairground meaning of the word. It comes from the Latin carnis, flesh, and levare, to remove. Lent, when flesh may not be eaten, immediately follows Carnival. On Shrove Tuesday, people ‘shrive’(confess) their sins and might eat pancakes to use up the last of the eggs and butter before the fast of Lent … which is why the French called it Fat Tuesday.
When is Twelfth Night, January 5, or 6?
Many reputable folkloric sources say that January 5, the Eve of Epiphany (which is Twelfth Day), is the night
called Twelfth Night on which great revels used to take place all over Europe.
“The day before Epiphany is the twelfth day of Christmas, and is sometimes called Twelfth Night, an occasion for feasting in some cultures. In some cultures, the baking of a special King’s Cake is part of the festivities of Epiphany (a King’s Cake is part of the observance of Mardi Gras in French Catholic culture of the Southern USA).” Source
No less an authority than Encyclopedia.com’s article on the subject also claims the evening of January 5 as Twelfth Night.
However, according to the great Sir James Frazer’s The Golden Bough:
“The last of the mystic twelve days is Epiphany or Twelfth Night, and it has been selected as a proper season
for the expulsion of the powers of evil in various parts of Europe.”
So, to Frazer, Epiphany (January 6) is Twelfth Night. Moreover, in many places Twelfth Night is still celebrated
on January 6 (see this site).
Until I’m shown an authority greater than Frazer, not to mention many eminent others, such as Waverley Fitzgerald from School of the Seasons (who has a very good article on the celebration), I will stick to January 6, Epiphany, as being both Twelfth Day and Twelfth Night, January 5 being Eve of Twelfth Day/Night.
Source: EarthMoonandSky, Wilson’s Almanack and School of Seasons
• • • •
Remember the ancient ways and keep them sacred!
• • • •
Live each Season as it passes; breathe the air, drink the drink, taste the fruit, and resign yourself to the influences of each.
~Henry David Thoreau (1817 – 1862)
NOTE: Because of the large number of ancient calendars, many in simultaneous use, as well as different ways of computing holy days (marked by the annual inundation, the solar year, the lunar month, the rising of key stars, and other celestial and terrestrial events), you may find these holy days celebrated a few days earlier or later at your local temple.
Courtesy of GrannyMoon’s Morning Feast