Wednesday, March 20, 2019

Welcome, Sunshine

Revena lives in 10th century Bavaria. It's the first day of Spring. It's the start of the year. Cured meats and foods in brine and vinegar wearies her and her people. The people look forward to fresh fruits and vegetables and any meat that isn't tough and full of salt. They yearn for the light.

Ausṓs, the Queen of the Dawn, is the central figure of their celebrations. The Goddess represents the rebirth of the Sun and all new growth and motherhood. Her essence shows itself in the crocuses peeking through the brown Earth. Buds on the beech trees, the birth of lambs, and the mating of birds burst in unabashed joy.

On the last day of the last Winter full moon, they extinguish all fires, candles and lamps. When She stands high above, the land's people gather around a huge stack of dried wood and animal bones. The bonfire is lit, the blaze shooting into the dark sky, the tips of the flames reaching for the orb of night. Musicians from all castes bring out their instruments, playing lutes, bagpipes, cymbals, drums, tambourines, and harps. Rambunctious tunes fill the air. Everyone dances around the fire, lighting new torches to take home and restart the fires in their hearths.

The next day, each person rises before the Sun. They bathe in streams, rivers, ponds, and lakes, and wash off the dark and the specter death. They emerge from the waters, naked, reborn, face East, and rejoice as the light bursts above the horizon. Wrapping in warm blankets and running home, they don new linen or hemp cloth undergarments. These were sewn during the enclosed days. The men put on fresh tunics, braies, and long, fitted socks. Women dress in long, shapeless smocks with stockings. Revena wears a chemise of silk.

The Full Moon rests from her labors. The growing and maturing Sun warms the air. Winter is over. Spring has sprung. People spend most of the day out of doors.

Children start seeds in wickerwork to follow the sunshine around the castle grounds and build wattle fences around raised planting beds. These keep animals away from sprouting flowers, herbs, and vegetables.

The entire population works in gardens and fields, tilling and weeding. In the early evening, all the workers come into the baily for a celebration, gathering around stools, benches, and tables set outside.

Revena begins the festivities with the following incantation,

“We have survived the long, dark night,
Welcome back the warmth of light,
Spring has come, a time of rebirth,
The quickening of our Mother Earth.
The sowing season has begun,
With the advent of the rising sun.
We cherish new life and new beginnings,
Reassuring us of the love of the gods.”

Boiled eggs dyed with beets, onion skins, and red cabbage fill baskets on the tables. Given as gifts, they represent new life and potential. The egg pecking game breaks out to great laughter, winner takes all.

Platters of sweet buns with cinnamon and dried currants pass around the crowd. New butter and soft cheeses from the lactating animals top the breads.

Revena ends the day by giving out packets of seeds. Grains go to the farmers and flowers and vegetables to the women with home gardens. Exhausted children and their tired parents trudge home smiles on their faces.