As with any other Polytheist tradition, a Gaulish Polytheist one needs holidays. Those special times of year where we come together to observe specific Dêuoi for specific reasons. As well as attuning ourselves to the cycle of the seasons, and what that means for us. In this case, different Gaulish Polytheists have different answers.
In a previous article, I talked about the Sequanni Calendar being a contentious point in Gaulish Polytheism. So it stands to reason that as we don’t agree on that, we also have different holidays. We call those holidays different things, and have different ways of observing them. They’re observed at different times as well. Since there are fine folks out there who talk about their holidays, mine might as well be added to the list.
As I lost the previous article talking about these days (somehow), it meant I had to do it again. However, that has given me an opportunity to revisit my own ideas on the matter of holidays. I feel that I have done better here. For reference sake, I use the Coligny Calendar App designed by Shane Krusen. I feel that he has put together the best working model of the calendar, and as it comes with a Metonic cycle option, I like it even more.
In the history of the calendar, the length of an age, or where the calendar completed its cycle, went from 30 to 25 years as time went by. As the Metonic cycle is probably the most accurate as far as lunisolar timekeeping goes, I feel that it is a good borrowing. Thus, by retaining the names of the months, and being able to keep up with the same methodology of a lunisolar calendar, we see a synthesis of retaining the old while being able to adapt and borrow as the Gauls themselves did. This synthesis is reflected in much of Polytheist movements today.
So, with that reference noted, I should also say that even without the Metonic addition, the holidays are still in the same time range. Though the purpose of this article is not to discuss the calendar, I wanted to give some background into the frame of reference I use for the holidays. What we see whwn looking at the calendar is that there are several points in the year where the notation ‘IVOS’ is attached to several days in a row.
As Iuos notations cluster around certain times of the year, it can be assumed that they are likely holidays. Though it cannot be said for sure how long a given holiday was observed. As the clusters may point to a range of time in which it was acceptable to observe a given holiday. The pain with the Iuos clusters is that though they are consistent, they still show up in different months on the calendar throughout the years.
Though intercalations are involved with that slight distortion, the timing of the holidays themselves are actually completely consistent. So, on the calendar, the clusters will show up on one month or one other, two at the most. However, it is still consistent because these clusters are marked by one specific moon. In other words, an Iuos cluster may show up around 1 Simiuisonna one year, and near 1 Equos the next, but it will be the same moon in the lunar cycle.
The months start at the first quarter moon, in line with Pliny the Elder’s statement that the Gauls started their months six days after the new moon. This assumes a first quarter start, and a first quarter moon is easily visible. If this sounds confusing, and it did to me at first, it will be made clear now in this list of holidays. Remember that the moon is your friend. Without further ado, the holidays of Tegoslougos Nemotarvos
Cintusami “Start of Summer” – Cintus (first, start) and the genitive (possesive) form of Samos, which means “Summer”. Cintusami falls *two first quarter moons before the summer solstice*. This puts it around 1 Samonios, 1 Cantlos, or 1 Quimonios depending on the year. It will always fall on whichever month will start two moons before the solstice.
Cintusami is of course the start of the summer. In this sense, a parallel can be drawn with Calan Haf (Wales), Beltaine (Ireland), and May Day generally. The frost is gone, the weather is pleasant, and the land is alive.
Associated Deity: Maponos. As a God of youthfulness and pleasures, He is a fitting recipient for ritual this time of year.
Samolitus “Summer Festival” – Samos (Summer), Litus (feast, festival), comparable to Midsummer celebrations. Samolitus is observed on the first quarter moon before the summer solstice. This falls around 1 Dumannios normally, otherwise 1 Samonios. Always the quarter moon before the summer solstice.
Samolitus is the Midsummer celebration. The highest point of Samos, the time of victory over Giamos. This is the brightest time of the year. I consider this the time when Taranis slays His great foe. My favorite of the holidays!
Associated Deity: Taranis! Wielder of lightning and thunder, bearer of truth and the principle of Samos. Was there even another guess?
Îuos Luguos “Feast of Lugus” – There are occasionally Iuos notations at the beginning of Riuros, sometimes during the second half of Dumannios. However, as there is a solid date, 13 Riuros. This may well have been the date of the Datlâ (assembly of the tribe, or tribes), and still can be. But why not have a holiday then as well? That is my rationale, and in a household of two people doesn’t need a ton of holidays.
This is of course a time to celebrate Lugus and the grain harvest. His wife, Rosmertâ is also given offering this time of year.
Methâlitus “Harvest Feast” – This is a holiday of my own making. My reasoning is twofold. First, most harvests locally are done around the autumnal equinox. The Harvest Moon is an often mentioned in relation to the harvest season. The harvest moon falls around 9 Ogronios. Therefore, this was an easy innovation to make.
This time of year is lively in my area, but that winter isn’t too far off. This is, in effect, a time of transition.
Associated Deity: Carnonos. He is called upon to guide us during this time of change.
Samantos “Summer’s End” – Sam(os) meaning “summer”, Antos (boundary, limit). I picked this at the suggestion of Tom Schultze, as it has a smooth sound to it and conveys the needed point. This falls around 1 Giamonios normally, otherwise 1 Cutios or 1 Rantaranos. Regardless, this is two fist quarter moons before the winter solstice.
This is the end of summer, the beginning of winter. Time and the days are going dark, like a descent into Dubnos. So we turn to the Underworld for guidance.
Associated Deities: Sucellos, Nantosueltâ, and the Ancestors. The deities and dead are honored at this time.
Giamolitus “Winter Feast” – Giamos (winter), litus (feast). This is a one day holiday. Always falling on either 9 Giamonios or 9 Simiuisonna. This is around the full moon closest to the winter solstice. This is of course, the darkest time of the year, but with the full moon perhaps it shows that light was still sought and could shine through it.
In mainstream culture, there are many holidays this time of year. So regardless of how big it was in regards to the Gaulish world of the past, it may hold more meaning today. Warmth, feasting, and gift giving are good motifs for this time of year. This is also the time of the Wild Hunt, led by Eponâ.
Associated Deity: Eponâ. As leader of the Wild Hunt, and in my own lore mother of Maponos.
Îuos Brigantiâs “Feast of Brigantiâ” – This holiday falls two first quarter moons after the winter solstice. Around 1 Equos or 1 Elembiuos. As winter starts to loosen grip, we might see signs of spring. The days are starting to get longer again.
This is a time of cleansing, renewal, and bringing back warmth. Brigantiâ fits these things and this holiday is dedicated to Her.
Uisonnalitus “Spring Feast” – A peculiar day when noting that there’s no reasontto think that the Gauls observed anything related to the vernal equinox. However, there is an Iuos day a few days after the new moon, likely the first sliver, closest to the vernal equinox. This falls on 25 Aedrinios or 25 Elembiuos on some years.
Though there isn’t much precedent in the Celtic world, there is a modern holiday named after an Anglo-Saxon goddess. It may be that as one might notice day getting closer to overtaking night that this time was noted, or that it was seen as a dawning in that regard. I don’t know, but this eighth holiday balances the calendar out, and does seem to have been a holiday. What it meant, we can only speculate.
Associated Deities: Sulis and/or local river deities in general.
These are the holidays, or as has been jested about “Gaulidays” of Tegoslougos Nemotarvos. At a later date, we will look at each holiday in depth. Until then, thanks for reading!