Embroidered Norwegian Primstav: First Quarter Completed

Primstav first quarter 3

As promised - an update on my embroidered Norwegian Primstav.

The story behind my Primstav - what it is, why I am making one, how I was inspired - can be found here in the introductory post.

As you may remember, I left you…

Embroidered Primstav

here! At the beginning of May!

Primstav first quarter 5

I back tracked just a little to complete symbols for two personal dates that do not appear on traditional calendars.

Valbourgs - April 30th - is celebrated in Sweden (and in Swedish communities world wide) with a huge community bonfire at sunset signifying the burning away of winter. I happen to think this is a brilliant idea and celebrate with floating candles in my small pond. Many Swedish communities throughout the USA celebrate Valbourgs with bonfires and invite everyone!

The first birthday on the calendar - happens to be mine! A little pink box tied with turquoise ribbon. Each birthday on the calendar will be represented by a similar "present" wrapped in the birthday girl's or birthday boy's favorite color!

Primstav First quarter 2

As mentioned in my first "Primstav post", a good many of the significant dates marked on the traditional calendar represented days devoted to Saints recognized by the Catholic Church. The Primstav - usually a carved stick 36" long - was devised as a way for farmers in remote mountain villages to keep track of when they were supposed to attend mass. Eventually, many of these dates and symbols changed to represent days to perform necessary farming chores - plowing, sowing, reaping.

Some symbols used on my own calendar are reasonably faithful to the recognizable originals. Some have been altered slightly and some altered a lot! Many symbols on the original calendar sticks depict the way in which a saint was murdered - martyred - and some methods of murder were so gruesome I just had to do some research to find some positive aspect of their life to use as a symbol. Or find something else entirely to replace it. (This was especially true in July and August!)

Primstav first quarter 7

This section of the calendar begins with May 15th and ends just before the summer Solstice.

May 15th: St. Hallvard's Wake.

Hallvard was apparently a Norse nobleman who saved a young woman from a band of dastardly wrong doers and was subsequently drown in a fjord with a millstone tied around his neck.

Since this is also the time of year favorable to sowing seed, the representation of a millstone eventually included tiny dots to represent seeds. A millstone with tiny seeds works for me!!

Many seemed to believe that if corn was not planted by this date, it would not ripen before the first frost.

May 22nd: Bear's Wake

The date commemorating St. Bernard (Bjarnvard in Norwegian and shortened to Bjorn which means "bear") coincides with the time of year when bears leave their winter dens. A Bear paw is most often used as a symbol.

I chose to use the Hopi Indian symbol for a bear paw. One of my favorite pendants worn during my childhood was such a symbol and right in the center of the foot - a turquoise stone.

May 28th: St. Germanus Day

Bishop Germanus, buried in St. Vincent's church in Paris in the 6th century, later gave it his name - St. Germaine. A church is used as a symbol!

June 9th: Columba

The day commemorates an Irish monk (the Holy Columcille), however it seems that this is also the time when salmon begin their journey upriver.

We happen to be huge fans of Copper River Sockeye Salmon and this symbol, embroidered with a strand of yellow and a strand of orange to represent copper, is here to remind us to purchase freshly caught salmon from Alaska and freeze!

June 17th: St. Botolv's Day

St. Botolv is a highly regarded saint - one of the oldest in the Anglo-Saxon church.

Fields set aside to lay fallow were to be plowed around this time of year. Apparently the day is marked with a symbol depicting a staff - a bishop's pastoral staff.

Two personally significant birthdays also fall within this period. My son's birthday represented by a gift wrapped in camo and my sweetheart's birthday represented with a gift wrapped in blue.

Primstav First quarter 4

Summer Solstice and Midsommer and Forth of July!

June 21st: Summer Solstice

Always a bittersweet day for me! The longest day of the year - but - also the time of the year when the sun begins its journey southward and the days begin to shorten. The day is especially bittersweet now that we live in the Pacific Northwest because we see so little of the sun until July 5th - when it is already on it's journey south. When I lived in New Mexico, Arizona and So. California, the skies were clear most of the time and we could enjoy the lengthening days prior to the Summer Solstice.

June 24th: Midsummer

Although the day is also a day to remember St. John the Baptist, the old pagan beliefs surrounding this date have survived to modern times and in many Scandinavian communities, Midsummer is one of the most important annual celebrations.

Certainly it is my favorite of the two days marking the middle of summer! Because, as I see it, this day is a celebration of - well - summer!

A church is the traditional symbol found on most calendar sticks, however, on my calendar the day is represented with a resplendent summer sun!

June 29th: St. Peter's Wake

The day is set aside in remembrance of both St. Peter and St. Paul both of whom were martyred in the very early years of the Christian church.

The symbol depicts contributions of each - Peter represented by a key (to heaven) and Paul by a book (new testament contributions).

Livestock were moved to summer pastures at this time and herbs gathered and dried. Some believed that herbs picked on this day were endowed with greater healing power.

July 2nd: St. Swithin's Wake

A 9th century English Bishop highly respected in Norway and who eventually became the patron saint of Stavanger. Although the symbol is usually a bishop or bishop's hat, I used a small church to represent a church in Stavanger.

July 8th: St. Sunniva's Day

Sunniva was an Irish princess who fled to the coast of Norway with a loyal group of companions. Hiding in a cave they were entombed either by natural causes or intention - the stories differ. In any case, strange lights were often reported as coming from the cave and when it was opened many years later, the body of the princess was found to be in perfect condition. A church was built on the site. Some accounts suggest that her body was later moved to Bergan.

Some resources mention that hay harvesting is to begin this day and suggest a scythe as the symbol for this date. Other resources, including "The Year's Rhythm", suggest a head with a crown (for the princess I presume). I chose to simply use a crown embroidered in a bit of lattice work.

July 10th: St. Canute's Day

Canute was a Danish King who died as a martyr in the late 11th century.

As his day coincides with what was and still is the traditional time to begin harvesting hay, his symbol is a scythe. It is useful to me as well because it reminds me that wheat is ready to be harvested and it is time to gather wheat to be used for teaching how to make Harvest Broom House Blessings.

And one last date on the personal side of the calendar! July 4th! Red, White and Blue fireworks to celebrate Independence Day!

Prmstav first quarter 1

The first quarter of the year is completed!

Primstav symbols for July 15th to October 14 have all been researched, and drawn in place. A central circle which will be used to depict the four seasons has also been added.

As mentioned above, the second quarter seems to be particularly well populated with days commemorating gruesome means of death being visited upon believers who followed the early church doctrine. I have changed several of the symbols to something a bit more positive. All will be revealed in late September!

Primstav first quarter 6

In the meantime - a little better view of the drawings currently being embroidered!

Wishing one and all a Happy Summer!

This is amazing!

This is amazing!

Oh Thank you Daisy!!!  I am

Oh Thank you Daisy!!!  I am happy to hear you are enjoying the journey with me!

This is such a charming

This is such a charming piece, Pam. I’d never heard of Primstavs before seeing yours here, and I find yours delightful. How fun to read about each event and see how you interpret them in your embroidery. Thank you so much for sharing this with us!

You are so welcome, Lynda!  I

You are so welcome, Lynda!  I only just learned of them a couple years ago but was immediately intrigued and the more i learned, thge more I wanted to make one of my own.  I appreciate your interest in my little journey!

Oh, Pam, your Primstav

Oh, Pam, your Primstav interpretation is just a wonder! I love how you embroidered symbols below the arc, and I so appreciate all the research that has gone in to this lovely work of art.

It just makes me very, very happy that you are sharing all of this with us! Thank you!

Nancy!  Your encouragement

Nancy!  Your encouragement from day one has been so appreciated, and I especially love knowing that you are making your own intrepretation of a Primstav as well.  Yes - lots of research but hugely satisfying as I have already learned so much! And a deep appreciation for just how much seasonal cycles sustain life.

Interesting project and

Interesting project and beautiful handwork!

Dyhna, I am thinking you

Dyhna, I am thinking you might enjoy making something similar in clay!  Marking your own significant dates!

What a fun & interesting

What a fun & interesting project!

Thank you Rachel!  And thank

Thank you Rachel!  And thank you for stopping by and saying hello!  

Part of me is enjoying the slow pace of this project - part of me is anxious to get to the Winter Holidays!  Know you understand that!!!

What a wonderful, intensive,

What a wonderful, intensive, beautiful project!

Intensive is a good word for

Intensive is a good word for it Kathryn!  I am finding it to be one of those projects that no matter the time it takes or the concentratin it demands, it is hugely satisfying.

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