What tradition calls itself such without holidays? When done properly, holidays and ritual not only bring us more into piety and closeness with the Gods, but reaffirm for ourselves who we are, and our own cultures. Holidays are the “prime time” of this. With that, I wondered how to go about these holiday observances. We don’t have much from the Gaulish of the past by way of what their holidays were called. It is also likely that different tribes had different names for, and different numbers of holidays.
For those with a Gallo-Roman focus, this is a bit easier, as more is known. For those of us who do not, looking at common patterns in other Celtic cultures helps shed light on some possibilities. It is common to look at say, Gaelic or Brythonic traditions for inspiration. Some will go further on to look also at Roman, Germanic, and Greek observances. This practice of “filling in gaps” is quite common amongst Pagan religions. Even without looking too deep, one can see that seasonal cycles and agricultural events tend to be the focus of many peoples’ celebrations the world over. Indo-European related or not.
The word “IVOS” appears over a few dates in a row, dispersed throughout the Sequanni Calendar. This is taken to mean “feast, festival”. Many of these days either do not have a name directly associated with them, or there is a name that we do not yet understand what it is or its context. Due to this, I and every other Galatis have come up with our own names for these days. It also bears mentioning that there are many days in a row associated with many IVOS (Îuos) notations. Does this mean that the festivals lasted that long? Or that a range of days was suggested in the event of an adverse situation? To that, we don’t really know.
From Irish culture comes what some call the four “fire festivals”. These appear to be roughly between solstices and equinoxes. Those holidays are Imbolc, Beltaine, Lughnasadh, and Samhain. These are often roughly equated in other Celtic Polytheisms as well. It does appear that there are “IVOS” notations around all four of these times. Bearing in mind that the Sequanni Calendar is a different system (lunisolar) than the modern calendar which is strictly solar.
Therefore, it is pertinent to take what we know. Indo-European cultures often observed celebrations related to the solstices. Stonehenge was used by, though not built by Iron Age Britons, and the henge marks solstices. However, what might be curious to some is that there are not “IVOS” notations directly aligned with solstices (or equinoxes). Does that mean that these events were not the subject of celebration? I don’t know. However, what can be seen are “IVOS” notations not too far from either solstice.
This could mean nothing in relation to the two events, or it could mean that there was a general idea of these times correlating to what could be seen as the middle of the two seasons. Though not precise most years, it would not be surprising to assume that the Gauls noticed the obvious lengthening and shortening of days and marked them with some significance. I’m not a scholar, but based on most other Indo-European cultures, it seems reasonable to assume that the Gauls did celebrate these times of year. Getting the exact dates of the solstices simply may not have been as important. After all, unless one constantly watches and times the length of daylight hours, they wouldn’t likely notice a solstice, but would notice the difference in day and night those times of year.
As for myself, I certainly associate seasonal themes with each “IVOS” notation that covers close to every date except for the autumnal equinox. There is also a notation not far from the vernal equinox. It doesn’t mean that they paid any mind to the literal equinox. I’d wager that they didn’t. However, they may have noticed the balance of days turning in favor of light over darkness.
Another thing one finds when looking at the Calendar is that many holidays begin at the end of one month, going into the beginning of the next. Pliny claims that the Gauls started their months at the first quarter, following of course the new moon. So the new moon may have been a sign for certain holidays to begin. Regardless, I find I usually only celebrate one day per holiday, and so for me it provides flexibility in what day I can celebrate. Thus I can maintain a rough accuracy in celebrating at a time when the Ancient Gauls also did, without being tied to a solar event that happens for only one day.
That said, a couple of holidays on the Coligny Calendar are only for one day. Does this mean they were indoor events? Or something else entirely? This only happens two or three times. Depending on one’s schedule, it isn’t always possible to observe days when we want to do so, but an effort can be made. It goes without saying that using the Coligny Calendar isn’t the only way to plot out holidays. It is one way to do it. With as much controversy that has surrounded it, only recently have I been able to make effective use of it. There isn’t a unified approach to any of this, and many other approaches are valid.
Holidays of Tegoslougous Nemotarvos
Centusamos – “First of Summer” The beginning of Summer. Two first quarter moons before the Summer Solstice. On most years, centered on 1 Samonios, save for the years Quimonios is present. The name is a Gaulish adaptation of Welsh “Calan Haf” and Gaelic “Cetsamhain”. Beltaine, May Day, etc. are analogous to Centusamos. Bonfires are good for it (if I didn’t live in an apartment in a city), we adapt with an open grill fire. Also a good time for going outside and enjoying the weather. If more social that I, it could be done with lots of people. I’m not, so…
Associated Deity: Maponos. Why? He’s a God of youth and youthfulness! Also, if like me, you believe that the veil between the worlds is at its thinnest, (a common belief in Celtic cultures) along with the start of Winter, then Maponos having a magic aspect to Him makes Him even more suitable for this time of year to receive offering.
Îuos Samî – “Feast of Summer” The first quarter moon before the Summer Solstice. Normally centered on 1 Dumanios, the second month of the year, but 1 Samonios when Quimonios is present. The epitome of the light half of the year, where the celestial forces are in full display. The world is green and all is well. Everything is so alive! Warm days, active storms, everything is busy. This is, for me, one of the two largest feasts of the year.
Associated Deity: Taranis. Why? It is He that is the embodiment of celestial might. It is at this time of year that he can truly claim victory over the forces of Giamos. He gets a helping of the feast for sure. As He is what some would call a “patron deity” to this Tegoslougous, this is my favorite holiday, and it is an honor to be able to celebrate with Him in mind.
Îuos Luguos – “The Feast Of Lugus” 13 Riuros. Lugus, as winner of the grain harvest is honored on this day. Fresh baked bread is one of the ways to observe this day. Anything else from this time of harvest is good. Grain is of course a very important staple in diets the world over. So, its importance cannot be emphasized enough. At this time in particular, I try to remember that though many like myself live modern, convenient city lives, it is because of successful harvests that we have food at all. It is easy to feel disconnected from that, but without Lugus winning the harvest back, no grain.
Associated Deity: Lugus (clearly). Winner of the grain harvest. Lord of all skills!
Îuos Methiâs – Full moon nearest the Autumn Equinox, the Harvest Moon, as it is called around here. Around 9 Ogronios. Ohio has four pronounced seasons, and you know it at this time. The leaves changing colors remind us that Winter isn’t far away. This is when most harvests are done in more temperate climes. In this area, apples are one of the more well known fruits of the harvest. This is, as witnessed by the changing of leaves a time of transition.
Part of my observance of this is from what I picked up in my time as a Heathen, and I see no reason to stop observing this holiday (Just as I never stopped observing Celtic holidays in those two years) It’s just done a little differently. The focus for me is on both the wealth that the harvest brings, and the transition to winter upcoming. Wealth and transition, what deity is associated with those? Oh, yeah..
Associated Deity: Carnonos. He is the focus of ritual on this day. Transition and wealth, as I said before. It is He we will ask to guide us through this time of year.
Samantos – “Summer’s End” literally “Summer’s Limit”. Centered around 1 Giamonios, but can be 1 Rantaranos or 1 Cutios depending on intercalary months. Two first quarter moons before the Winter Solstice. Winter has arrived, and the air is crisp and cool. Samhain, Halloween, Calan Gaeaf come to mind, and Samantos is related to those. The veil between the world thins out again, and this is a time if magic, and a time of honoring the dead. As spirits are known to be active this time of year. Divination, and anything to do with ancestors is appropriate at this time.
Associated Deity: Senisterî (Ancestors). This is a particularly good time to honor the dead as Summer is also passing.
Îuos Giami – “Feast of Winter” or “Winter Feast” Full moon nearest the Winter Solstice, most years 9 Simiuisonna, some years 9 Giamonios. This is the darkest time of the year, and it is cold in this area, so most like to stay inside. Like our ancestors, we make the best of it. This is a time for feasting, gift giving, and togetherness. Even I am less of a hermit at this time. I don’t celebrate Christmas, but I certainly do feel a sense of holiday spirit at this time of year. Îuos Giami is the other particularly large feast day here.
The rebirth of the Sun, or His return may be particularly relevant to all of the lights, but it also serves the purpose of keeping up spirits. It’s a good time to be merry and reflect. This time also carries another significance, at least by Gallo-Roman standards, and that is the feast of Eponalia. It is Epona who rides into Dumnos at this time. I also think that it is kind of cool that Her husband’s holiday is at the opposite end of the year.
Associated Deity: Epona. She is Rider Between Worlds, as she rides into and out of Dumnos, it is She that is honored. In a way, a reverse influence of Eponalia.
Îuos Brigantiâs – “Feast of Brigantiâ” Two first quarter moons after the Winter Solstice. Centered around 1 Equos or 1 Elembiuos. One of Brigantiâ’s aspects is that of a Hearth Goddess. Hearth (though I don’t technically have one) and home are the main aspects, to me, of this holiday. As the snow will one day be gone, and Summer will return, getting the house in order is important. This is a time of purification, and getting things in order. As fire purifies, we must purify that which is around us.
Many possible connotations could be made here, but a simple one is that of “spring cleaning”. I know, not the most fun idea of holiday observance for most, but important nonetheless. Another feast at the end makes it worthwhile, and to honor She who tends the home, and Her many gifts and skills which make life better and more whole.
Associated Deity: Brigantiâ, of course! Goddess of Fire, purification, healing and poetry, amongst many other things.
Îuos Uisonnias – “Festival of Spring” Full moon nearest the Vernal Equinox. This is normally 25 Elembiuos, sometimes 25 Aedrinios. This too, is a time of transition, a dawning of sorts. As dawn is not quite day, spring is not quite Summer. However, Winter is starting to break, and around here, ice is finally starting to thaw. Maybe in milder climes, signs of Winter waning show sooner, but not so much in Ohio.
Light is taking over again, which reminds us that Summer is on the way, and that it won’t be freezing forever (a common sense of dread in this region). Leaves start to bud around this time, and small signs of life show. Springs start moving again, and all seems to be starting to come back to order. We like to celebrate with a breakfast feast at this time.
Associated Deity: Sulis. Why? She is the Dawn Maiden here. Associated with the Sun and springs. So, why not springtime? So, we welcome the Dawn Maiden to shine Her gentle light and warmth on our world. By this time of year, we certainly need it.
So it is, these are the holidays of Tegoslougous Nemotarvos. Take from them what you wish. A special thanks to Segomâros Widugeni for critiquing my choice of names for the holidays. Another to Tom Schultze for offering up Samantos as a name.
So, you want more holiday talk? I have a couple links of others who compiled a list of Gaulish holidays, and one who has another interesting take on the end of Winter.
From Segomâros Widugeni: http://polytheist.com/segomaros/2016/08/04/the-holidays/
From Jess “Bloody Bones”: https://thebloodybones.wordpress.com/2015/07/10/new-calendar-of-gaulish-polytheism/#more-265
How Selgowiros Caranticnos kicks out Winter: https://senobessusbolgon.wordpress.com/giamouretima-winter-releasing/