The third night of our 12 night celebrations is the High Feast of Yule! This occasion is in honor of the gods Thor and Frey. Stories are told of them from either D’aulaires’ Book of Norse Myths, or Brian Branston’s Gods & Heroes from Viking Mythology. Beautiful poetry and songs for Lords Frey and Thor can be found on The Heathen Songbook Online.
For gods of power and fertility, it is fitting to serve foods both hearty and sumptuous. So for this feast, it is our custom to have Spiced Roast with Rutabagas and Carrots, Rotkohl, Solstice buns, and Black Forest Cake. We read about Viking feasts in the book How to Be a Viking by Ari Berk.
The night’s rite need not be a formal and defined ceremony (see my “No-ritual” plan). Feasting, toasting, offering, and libating are the central activities on this night of Yule. Later, little paper cornucopias full of goodies are exchanged.
We celebrated Loaffest a little bit early at our house. We had a week-long trip coming up and I wanted to celebrate before we left. I figured I’d have time in a day or so for a quick solitary ADF ritual (for my DP), but I wanted to first try out my “no-ritual” plan to celebrate with my family. It turned out to be a really memorable High Day, in my book. The day before our celebration, I set up a seasonal altar shelf in the dining area and pulled the dining table out to the center of the room. That night, I asked my youngest daughter to read “Sif’s Golden Hair” from D’Aulaires’ Book of Norse Myths. With much laughter and funny voices for some of the characters, she did so, with her little brother listening to most of it.
The next day we set out to pick wildflowers for the altar and take nature pictures. Later, we commenced to concocting our Loaffest feast: a savory pie, salad, honeydew melon balls & blueberries, bread rolls in all different shapes (harvest knots, various spirals and swirls) and toppings (poppy seed, sesame seed, cinnamon & sugar). We had blueberry crisp a la mode for dessert, and blackberry lemonade to wash it all down.
When the food was all laid out on the table, I lit the altar candle and acknowledged the Three Hallows with offerings. We hailed the Kindreds Three, and the patrons of the occasion: Thor and Sif. We placed offerings in an oblong red dish at the end of the dining table closest to the altar. Que the music (via my playlist), and we began our feast! The mood of the day was just right; good food, relaxed atmosphere. We sang along with the music, named our favorites on the playlist, and sat and gazed in awe at our Loaf Fest shrine. The temperature was mild that day so we had all the windows open and the insects were already starting to sing before our meal was through. The boys went outside to play water guns. My daughter and I wrote our prayers and wishes and blessings on little strips of paper and burned them in an old copper pot. She and I ended our “rite” by singing our ending song and blowing out the candle.
Often times, I put way too much emphasis on having a formal (and often public) ritual for any given High Day. I get so preoccupied with it that I forget to play up other customs of the day. Many times I have gotten so worried about speaking at a public ritual, or anxious that things won’t turn out right when I’m in the role of leader, that I would end up not enjoying the holiday at all. I needed to have a “no-ritual” High Day for a change- to just enjoy the turn of the Wheel, and to remind myself and my family that the High Days really are fun and are meant to be enjoyed. Our celebration wasn’t exactly a blót, though it was Norse themed. It had a couple of ADF Druid tidbits, but it wasn’t “core order of ritual” by a long shot. What it was, was just right for celebrating with my family, and it will be a High Day I will remember for a long, long time.