The Church of the Divine Earth


Activity Calendar - Romuva Washington

Festivals of the year

To celebrate seasonal cycles whereby the processes of Nature --birth, life, decline and death-- can be solemnly cherished and remembered and to relate to Nature within the perimeters of personification of Her powers; to celebrate the four primary points of the year that identify the four seasons of Nature: Spring, Summer, Autumn and Winter.


Spring Equinox (c. March 21st)

The Spring Equinox is an enchanted borderland of time outside of time where light and dark are joined. The light and warmth of the sun begins to overtake the darkness of winter until the sun will peak at Summer Solstice in June. This is a time of new fire. The light and dark are in harmony but the light is growing with new energy. It is a season of fertility and growth. Spring has arrived and the day and night are balanced. Some traditions view this as a time of courtship between the God and Goddess. The Earth continues on its path, and our north pole starts moving towards the Sun again. The Sun moves upwards in our skies and the days continue getting longer. Again, we reach a midpoint when day and night are of equal length. This is called the 'vernal (or Spring) Equinox. This festival is often characterized by the rejoining of the Mother Goddess and her lover-consort who spent the winter months in death. Other variations include the young God regaining strength in his youth after being born at Yule, and the Goddess returning to her Maiden aspect.

Velykos (Easter) Christianity incorporated Lithuanian Equinox traditions into Easter and replaced the ancient Lithuanian name for the Equinox with the Slavic word 'Velykos', i.e. Easter. 'Pavasario lyge', meaning Spring Equinox, remains the only non-Christian name for the holiday. The week before Equinox, called the Velykos of Veles (souls), concludes the annual cycle of commemorations of the dead. As during Kucios (Winter Solstice Eve), families remember their dead and leave their dinners on the tables overnight for the veles to eat.


Summer Solstice (c. June 22nd)

Summer Solstice is the year's longest day and the zenith of the Sun's power. It is a sign of fertility and increasing life. At Midsummer, the Mother Goddess is heavily pregnant and the God is at the peak of his manhood. The day the north pole is nearest the Sun is called the 'summer solstice'. Looking from Earth, the Sun reaches its highest point in the sky all year and this day is the longest day of the year. It is the start of summer and after this date the days start getting shorter.

Rasa A representation, astronomically, of the circling of the planets around the sun. In Rasa it is seen the connection of celestial bodies following their given path often with the accompaniment of natural sounds or music. Rasa signifies stately, quiet and continuous movement of the bodies of those participating around another in the center, the sun, while those moving about the center, in various orbits or circles, represent the planets. Such dances are representative of life in nature moving in circular or spiral ways. Not unusual is the greeting of the setting sun, lighting fires and the making of offerings, visiting and blessing fields and trees, casting of wreaths, greeting the moon and the stars and paying homage to the rising sun.


Autumn Equinox (c. September 21st)

Autumn Equinox is a celebration of day and night being of equal length, looking forward to the shortening of days, thanksgiving and the second harvest. Day and night are of equal length, looking forward to the shortening of days. Autumn Equinox is the time of the descent of the Goddess into the Underworld and a farewell bid to the Harvest Lord. As we continue our journey around the Sun, the north pole moves away from the Sun and the Sun rises lower in the sky so the days continue getting shorter. When the Sun is at its mid-point in the sky, we reach the Autumn Equinox: day and night are of equal length and it's the beginning of autumn. The holiday of Autumn Equinox is a ritual of thanksgiving for the fruits of the Earth and a recognition of the need to share them to secure the blessings of the Goddess and God during the winter months.

Velines The day for celebrating the dead. During the month of October, it is a time for remembrance of the dead. When work was done and harvesting was complete, special rituals honoring the souls of ancestors took place. Ritual traditions of the dead were directly related to peoples’ belief that on that day, the souls of the dead return to earth and to their homes for the rest of the winter. These were graciously received and treated according to rituals of the ancestors in a most hospitable manner. It is not uncommon for people to gather in cemeteries to remember their dead and pay homage to them. They would be remembered for their valor, for their honesty and for their good habits. Afterwards, suppers of plenty were prepared and consumed. Actions relating to going out into the fields to encourage fertility of the land are not uncommon.


Winter Solstice (c. December 22nd)

Winter Solstice celebrates the increasing light after the longest night, the major festival of the year. Celebrated with feasting and fires, it is the longest night of the year when the Sun is farthest from the Earth. This is a time of rebirth, when candles are lit to welcome the Creator who is the returning Sun of the Winter Solstice. In Wicca, Yule is the time when the Goddess gives birth to the God. At this time, the Holly King (God of the waning year) is vanquished by the Oak King (God of the waxing year). At Yule, the two god-themes of death and rebirth coincide. This day is when the north pole is furthest from the Sun and is called the Winter Solstice. The Sun crosses the sky at its lowest point all year, crossing the sky in the quickest time and is therefore the shortest day of the year. Winter Solstice marks the start of winter, and from then on the days start getting longer. Yule is celebrated as the rebirth of the Great God who is viewed as the newborn Solstice Sun.

Kučios/Kaledos Winter Solstice Eve – Beginning of the year marks the end of the year when the world returns to darkness and non-existence. However, as death begets birth, the two year-end holidays also herald the rebirth of Nature and the return of the Sun. Renewal of time and the beginning of the new year is linked with the return of the sun. In years past, the Moon calendar was used for time; with the development of agriculture, the Sun calendar took root.


The four intermediate festivals fall on or near the first days of February, May, August, and November. These cross-quarter points mark key moments in the planting, growing and harvesting of crops.

 


Romuva events and Lithuanian customs

Romuva feasts are based on traditional Lithuanian customs and folklore and are based on rhythms of nature and agrarian rituals. A year is a circle marked by two sun solstices and two equinoxes and in such way divided into four periods. During these periods intermediate feasts are celebrated.

January
In January, Romuva celebrates Pusiaužiemis - Midwinter Festival (January 25th) - in certain parts of Lithuania, Kirmeline (Day of Serpents) is celebrated instead. Kirmeline is the symbolic awakening of the snakes. Pusiaužiemis is change of nature in winter. All the hibernating creatures wake up and declare about possible climatic conditions. Grass-snake is important mythological creature which crawls on festive table and hallows food. Romuva officiates rites to thank Gods and Goddesses and dances traditional grass-snake dance preserved in folklore

February
In February, Romuva celebrates Day of Perkūnas (Thunder God) February 2nd, Day of Gabija (Fire Goddess) February 5th, Day of Vieversio Diena (Return of the Skylarks) February 24th, Užgavėnės, and Pilėnai

Užgavėnės is one of the most ancient Lithuanian folk feasts celebrated since prehistoric times containing worship of totem animals and ancestors

  • Ancient Užgavėnės rituals - Eat of festive fat food and masquerade - Horse race

    Destruction of feminine or masculine kind of idol symbolizing bad winter spirits

    Fight of two spirits Lašininis and Kanapinis symbolizing fight of winter and spring. Kanapinis always wins

    Play of funeral and wedding

    Important mythological figures in Užgavėnės are Bear, Heron, mythical deities and spirits of underworld or connected with death and spells: Ragana and Velnias (deities of underworld

Pilėnai symbolizes old Lithuanian faith against Christianity and crusaders

March
In March, Romuva celebrates Užgavenes (March 1st) - Escort of Winter esentially waits for Spring and helps prepare for the new season; Kazimierinės - Casimir - Skylarks begin their songs (March 4th); Velykos - Spring Equinox (c. March 21st) - Christianity incorporated Lithuanian Equinox traditions into Easter and replaced the ancient Lithuanian name for the Equinox with the Slavic word 'Velykos', i.e. Easter; the week before Equinox, called the Velykos of Veles (souls), concludes the annual cycle of commemorations of the dead; as during Kucios (Winter Solstice Eve), families remember their dead

April
In April, Jore is celebrated (last weekend); festival of spring; Thunder God Perkūnas awakes nature and fertility

May
In May, Romuva celebrates Milda festival (May 13th). Milda is probably in 19th century Lithuanian love goddess. Traditional May feasts are connected with love, delight and youth. In local communities, Gegužines are celebrated during the whole month. Important creature during May feasts and Milda is Cuckoo. She is zoomorphic shape or symbol of Laima, Birth and Destiny Goddess. Mildos/Aušrinės Holiday - Samborai - is at the conclusion of sowing, or Paruges, which means the day by the rye - households gather to bless the spring plantings

June
In June, Romuva celebrates Rasos - Summer Solstice (c. June 22nd); Rasa Celebration - greeting of the setting sun - lighting of the bonfires and offerings - visiting and blessing the fields and trees - principal bonfire, burning of the More (straw doll symbolizing the old) - circle dances around the bonfire - casting of wreaths - greeting the moon and the stars - paying homage to the rising sun and basking in the morning dew - Kupolė was the spirit of springtime vegetation and flowers, whose festival is Kupolinės, also known as Rasos (Rasa - Dew)

July
In July, Romuva celebrates Day of Laima (Goddess of destiny and beloved Divine Mother who protects and guides human life) July 7th

August
In August, Romuva celebrates Žolinės - Day of Grass, natural vegetaion (August 15th) - Day of Žemyna (Goddess of Fertility, cherished Mother Earth who protects and guides animal and plant life, Earth Goddess - associated with Rugiu Svente - Rye Harvest) - beginning with the end of July and throughout August - depending on the growing conditions each year - the Lithuanian countryside starts to harvest the rye, the single most important grain cultivated in Lithuania - Rye is a divine grain - its fields are sacred - the harvest begins with the ritual Festival of the Rye which expresses thanksgiving for the harvest - Dagotuves - Winter Rye Planting Finished; this celebration was adopted in Christianity and marked as Mary assumption

September
In September, Romuva celebrates the Autumn Equinox (c. September 21st), Day of Perkūnas and Baltic Unity Day (September 22nd)

October
In October, Romuva celebrates Velines (all of October) - Velines is in honor of the Veles, the shade of the ancestors – either of the family or the village - this is when the veles would enter the family home for the winter – leave at Velykos to go into the fields to encourage the fertility of the land; On October 19th, Romuva celebrates Krivis Day, Lithuanian Pagan supreme priest

November
In November, Romuva celebrates Vėlinės, Day of the Ancestors, November 1st - winter feast containing worship of the ancestors' spirits

December
In December, Romuva celebrates Winter Solstice (c. December 21st) and Day of Praamžius (God of the Beginning) during the Winter Solstice; also Kūčios and Kalėdos - (Winter Solstice Eve – Beginning of the Year) - this period marks the end of the year when the world returns to darkness and non-existence - however, as death begets birth, the two holidays also herald the rebirth of nature and the return of the sun - Lithuanians distinguish the two subsequent days, now celebrated on the 24th and 25th of December