Ancient Customs on this Day


Ancient Customs on this Day


Jan 7 Nanakusa (Seven Grasses)

The Japanese eat a stew of rice gruel and seven fresh herbs to ward off disease during the upcoming year. In the Chinese calendar, which is still lunar, a similar holiday is celebrated on the 7th day of the 12th moon (see Jan 20).

Funk and Wagnalls Standard Dictionary of Folklore, Mythology and Legend, Maria Leach, ed., Harper 1984


Jan 7 Grandmothers Day

In Bulgaria, boys duck the girls in the icy waters of rivers and lakes, an ancient custom which is said to bring them good health in the coming year. Like the customs described above on Epiphany, it seems to promise a fresh new beginning.

Source:Spicer, Dorothy Gladys, The Book of Festivals, The Womans Press 1937


Jan 7 Fire-Saving Day (Eldbjorgdagen)

In Norway, eldbjorgdagen means fire-saving day but a Saint Eldberga was later invented to explain the holiday. A report from Seljord in 1786, tells that the mistress of the house celebrates the return of the sun by drinking a draught of ale before the hearth, throws something into the fire and then says: “So high be my fire that hell is no higher or hotter.” Then the rest of the household sat around the hearth, with their hands behind their back, and drank ale from bowls which were drained then tossed behind them with a toss of the head. If a bowl landed face down, the drinker would die within the next year. Another custom was to toast the members of the house and the king. In Skedsmo, this was said to be the day the hibernating bear turns over in his sleep.

Source:Blackburn, Bonnie and Holford-Strevens, Leofranc, The Oxford Companion to the Year, Oxford University Press 1999


Jan 7 Distaff Day
Partly work and partly play
Ye must on St Distaff’s day
From the plough soon free the team
Then come home and fodder them
If the Maids a-spinning go
Burn the flax and fire the tow
Bring in pails of water then
Let the Maids bewash the men
Give Saint Distaff all the right
Then bid Christmas sport goodnight
And next morrow, every one
To his own vocation.


Source: Herrick, Hesperides 1648


Sometimes said to honor a mythical St Distaff, this is the day when housewives could begin spinning again, after the break from the usual routine represented by the midwinter holidays. In 1745, a woman at East Dereham, in Norfolk, England spun from one pound of wool, 84,000 yards of thread, earning a mention in the Proceedings of the Royal Society.


GrannyMoon’s Morning Feast Source: Wilson’s Almanack and School of The Seasons