Tonight, orthodox and presumably pagan traditions meet in the beginning of the #Rauhnächte.
Originally, these were twelve nights where no spinning nor heavy work was allowed. Children were told that a monstrous female figure would check if everything was done acording to the rules: She was said to open the bellies of the transgressors who worked and feasted during the advent fast.
In it's oldest form, this custom can be found in Norway, were the gruesome Lussi leads her Åskareia over the farmsteads, spreading awe and terror. Lussi is, of course, the Norwegian form of Lucia, as the 13th of december is the feast day of Saint Lucia of Syracuse.
In the old Julian Calendar, this was also the shortest day of the year, hence the name „Lussi Langnatt“, „Lucy long night“. In the christian tradition, this day marked a period of twelve days of intensified fasting and prayer in preparation for the feast of the Nativity of Our Lord, as it is still practiced in the orthodox churches.
After the gregorian calendar had been introduced and the winter solstice shifted closer to chrismas, the Rauhnächte were identified with the twelve nights of christmas, at least in some regions of the continent. These new Rauhnächte were now also associated with the customs of masking and merry making that were originally connected to the day of the Holy Innocents (December 28th in western tradition), the day when children were traditionally allowed to judge the adults and spend the day according to their own will.
From this overlapping of traditions, modern day commercial literature constructs a pagan „yule feast“ that is supposed to last twelve days from the winter solstice. It is often portrayed as the celebration of a „winter goddess“ that is constructed from the „Lussi“ demon that originally controlled the onset of the strict chrismas fast.
But make no mistake about it. The dangerous night is tonight.
Do not leave the house. Do not light large fires. Do not spin or do any other work, and make no noise. Do not feast. Pray and fast.
Or the queen of the winter demons may come and get you and cut your little belly open wide.
#pagan #orthodox #asatru #rauhnächte #lucia #lussebrud #lussi