Wednesday, December 26, 2012

OHP: All Is Calm, All Is Bright

Stopping by from the #XMasGiveaway blog hop? Please visit this post for your chance to win.

Hopefully, you've had a lovely and peaceful December 25th. Perhaps today you're enjoying Boxing Day, if you live in one of the countries that used to be part of the British Empire.

I do not think that the figure below signifies any particular goddess. In the Germanic tradition, the goddess associated with this time of year is Frigga. Read more about Frigga here. 

The white stag is a beautiful symbol of winter. He always makes me think of James Potter's silvery-white stag  Patronus, but he also appears in The Lion, The Witch and the Wardrobe and Snow White and the Huntsman. In medieval Christian lore, both the white stag and the unicorn were symbols of Jesus Christ, as discussed by author Denise Roper in "Harry Potter and the Bestiary of Christ, Part Three."

The association between the stag, or buck, and Christmas comes from Denmark, Sweden and Norway, according to Christmas Customs and Traditions by Clement A. Miles. It's a tradition in those countries for people to dress up in deer hides, hooves and horns to represent the Julebuk (yule buck). People are somewhat fearful of the Julebuk - some stories, for example, tell of young women who've danced with what they believed was a young man in the Julebuk costume, only to find out later their dance partner was the devil. Stories like these probably express an anxiety about combining Christian and Pagan customs.

In Japan, the goddess associated with the Winter Solstice is Amaterasu. The Solstice is the Japanese sun goddess's birthday. Read more about Amaterasu here. In Wales, the appropriate goddess for this time of year is Rhiannon (read more about Rhiannon here).

Merry post-Christmas/after-Solstice to all, and to all a good night.

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