Winternights marks the end of the harvest and the beginning of Winter for the British Columbia Heathen Freehold. It is timed to coincide with Canadian Thanksgiving as it also originates as a celebration of the year’s harvest bounty. Historically, Winternights or Winterfinding was celebrated in October or November depending on local climate, an important part of Heathenry is the localisation of the calendar and practices. It may also have been called the Álfarblót or Dísablót depending on time and place in history.
Typical deities to honour for Winternights include Ingui-Frey, Gerd, Skadhi, Hel, Odin, or the elves. As the end of the Harvest, and the beginning of the Wild Hunt these deities and the elves have ties to this time of year. In the spirit of Thanksgiving, it is appropriate to thank Ingui-Frey and Gerd for the crops and herds that will sustain the community. In preparation for Winter it is appropriate to ask Skadhi to guide hunters to large herds of wildlife to hunt, and to bring light snows that will protect the foliage without trapping us indefinitely. As the Wild Hunt begins it is appropriate to ask Hel and Odin to collect lost souls quickly and continue on without accidentally taking a living person along. The elves have helped to bring the crops to feed humans and animals through the soil to nourish and sustain us, this is also worthy of thanks as the winter draws in and so we draw inside.
Custom in the BCHF is to have a feast with your local community made from local food, with locally made ale or mead if possible. This connection between the land and it’s inhabitants is paramount to honouring the elves who make our lives there possible. At this time of year it is good to take extra time to appreciate the beauty and blessings of the natural world all around us.
In Frith and Service,
Freyr of the BCHF