Primstav: About the Symbols - First Half of Winter Side

Primstav Winter Side

October 21: The date our leaves begin to turn in Portland, and are at their peak in the mountains. I marked the day with an aspen tree even though on this side of the mountains, they are rare - too wet.

October 28: St. Simon's Day and the day the sleighs are removed from the sheds to make room for livestock in winter. The day is marked with a sleigh.

October 31: Halloween and my daughter's birthday. She always teases me because all my jack-o-lanterns are happy, so this one has an extra big smile in her honor!

November 1: All Saint's Day. Apparently there were just too many Christians martyred to honor every one with a day, hence a day set aside for for remembering all saints. The day is also All Hollows Eve - an ancient pagan belief that witches roamed the earth this night. The traditional symbol is a church with three sections. I chose to use three candles to light the darkness which fits both.

November 11: St. Martin's Day. The symbol is a goose and one of my favorites found on the ancient sticks. St Martin was a simple unassuming man who founded a monastery and was later sought out by church leaders who wished to make him a bishop. He hid from them in his goose pen, but was found and eventually became Pope. Farmers slaughtered animals to be eaten during winter on this day as the meat would remain frozen until spring.

November 15: Bare Oak tree signifying that fall is gone and winter has set in. Frost may occur at any time and the long dark days of winter have begun. I used the bare oak because its beauty cheers me in winter.

November 23: St. Clement's Day. St. Clement met his awful end by drowning in the sea - thrown overboard tied to an anchor. Ships do not sail from their harbor this day but rather remain anchored in place. The symbol I used is a small black ship.

November 25th: St. Catherine's Day - St Catherine the spinner. Her symbol is thought to be a spinning wheel even though it has no such resemblance whatsoever. Although it seems a bit late to begin to me, this is the day women began their spinning for the winter, so I chose a great wheel as my symbol.

November 30th: St. Andrew's Day. St. Andrew was also Andrew the apostle and became the patron saint of fishermen. His symbol is traditionally a fish hook; however, since he is also the patron saint of Scotland, I chose to use St. Andrew's cross as my symbol.

Primstav Winter Side

December 4: St. Barbara's Day. Ancients believed the sun went away on this day - which it actually does due to the earth's tilt. I have used a black "sun" to mark this day.

December 6: St. Nicholas Day. Nicholas was a much loved, kind and generous soul who is celebrated in much of the Christian world as the bringer of gifts and is the inspiration of Father Christmas, Santa Claus. and Sinterklaas. I have chosen to represent his day with a wooden shoe setting sail for Spain to honor the rich (and controversial) celebration of Sinterklaas in the Netherlands. I unpack and display my Father Christmas collection this day

December 8: Both the feast of the Immaculate Conception of Mary, mother of Jesus ; and Precepe Day in Italy, when everyone sets out their beloved Precepe ( nativity scene, creche). A nativity scene marks this day. Very tiny stitches! I set out my nativity collection this day.

December 10: Angel Day. A personal day I made up as a result of the long treasured memory of the picture behind door 10 on my very first advent calendar. Beautiful angels. It is the day I set out my small collection of Angels.

December 12: Our Lady of Guadalupe Day and the day the Julesvenier (similar to Nisser or Tomte but not nearly as charming) begin their journey from Icelandic mountains to the villages below. Children are given a treat or a potato, depending upon their behavior. Both Guadalupe and a tomte symbols mark this day. I must be certain all my Nisse, Nisser, Tomte, Tonttu, pakapik, and julesvenier are all set out by this day or there will be trouble in the house. For dinner I always have Chile Verde and Sopapillas.

December 13: St. Lucia Day and the beginning of Christmas celebrations in Scandinavian countries. On this day, the eldest daughter dons a crown of greens and candles and brings her sleeping parents coffee and gingerbread and Saffron buns. This day was once the Solstice long ago (Julian calendar) and was cause for celebration because the sun returned to the earth. Lucia's crown is my symbol.

December 16: Las Posadas in some Latino Countries and in New Mexico. The 17th,  Novena begins in Italy. A time of devotion, prayers and nightly processions to visit Nacimientos and Precepe of friends and family followed by food and fellowship. In Mexico, Pinatas are hung for children to knock down as part of the nightly celebration, so I chose the pinata as the symbol as the nativity had already been used.

December 21: St. Thomas Day. The day of doubting Thomas but older traditions of brewing ale and inviting friends and neighbors to come to taste resulted in this day being called Thomas the Brewer day. I used a goblet to mark the day.

December 22: The Winter Solstice represented by a dark earth and hint of sunshine. I bring fresh greens into the house this day and light candles in the evening.

December 23: Juleaften - Christmas afternoon and the time set aside to trim the holiday tree. Marked with a tiny red and white woven paper heart. My own tree goes up a week before Thanksgiving, so I bake cookies or wrap gifts on this day. Every Christmas preparation must be done by nightfall.

December 25: Christmas and the symbol needs no explanation!

December 26: St. Steven's Day and Boxing Day and the First Day of Christmas. A lovely Plum Pudding seemed appropriate!

January 1: New Year's Day. The horn of plenty is actually the traditional Primstav symbol for Christmas Day. But I wanted a Christmas tree on that day so the horn of plenty was moved on my calendar to New Years.

January 6: Twelfth Day of Christmas and also known as Three Kings Day. In Italy, La Befana - the Christmas Witch (a witch who is still looking for the Christ Child after having missed her chance to accompany the three wise men) brings gifts to children; and in many countries it is traditional to serve a very special cake - a Three Kings Cake. I always bake a cake that is unusual - at least one I am not familiar with. So...big surprise I marked the day with a cake!

January 8: Rock Day - the day woman must begin spinning once again following the holiday celebrations. I created a tiny skein from hand spun yarn as the symbol.

January 13: Twentieth Day of Christmas; St. Knutes Day; Plunder the Tree Day in Sweden. Festivities are absolutely officially over, all goodies are eaten from the tree, decorations removed and packed away, and the tree is taken down. My symbol is a holiday tree that is but a shadow of its former self. Better than the traditional Ax, don't you think?

We are now at the end of the third quarter of the year. I will share the forth and last quarter (second half of the winter side) on Monday.

Thank you for your interest.

Follow this link here to view the completed Primstav and find links to previous posts sharing construction, design and the meanings behind the spring and summer symbols.

Thank you for taking the time

Thank you for taking the time to explain the historical significance of the days you chose for your primstav and also the personal significance! I love to hear about all your fun traditions!!

Arielle, I am so grateful for

Arielle, I am so grateful for your interest, dear.  This has been such a personal, and personally satisfying project.  I have learned so much history through the research necessary.  And a deeper appreciation of how our lives are lived depending on the yearly seasonal cycles.  I have posted the meanings of the last section of the calendar now, when you have time to read.  Thank YOU for remaining interested and for your continued reminders that you have never forgotten me. xoxoxoxox

I've been following the

I've been following the progress of this amazing piece from the beginning. I've learned quite a bit about about so many significant dates and I've enjoyed seeing what symbol you use to represent each day. I admire your beautiful stitching, too, and I can't wait to see the finished piece!

Cindy, firstly, thank you for

Cindy, firstly, thank you for you patience with the long delay in completing this project.  I posted the finished piece in the post just previous to this one, dear.  And there is a new post following describing the final set of images.  Hopefully you can find them.