Primstav: About the Symbols - Second Half of Winter Side

Primstav Winter Side

Welcome! This is the final post describing the symbols used on my embroidered Primstav. And pretty much my least favorite part of the yearly cycle. The days are short, nights are long, it is cold, cloudy, and wet most of the time, Nothing is blooming. The time between Holiday merriment and the first signs of spring. I make a big deal out of anything I can celebrate!

January 20th Brodre Mass - and the day that is set aside to chop wood for the coldest days ahead. An ax is the symbol and since it was not used to murder - it is allowed.

January 25: St. Paul's Mass AND Bobby Burn's Day. On the Julienne Calendar, this day was the midpoint of winter. A snowflake seemed an appropriate symbol as opposed to the traditional bow or sword which represent Paul. I like snowflakes - a LOT.We get them usually at this time. January 25th ist also the day the celebrated Scottish Poet Robert Burns is remembered. Hopefully my symbol resembles a fountain pen! Scottish dishes are served in my family.

February 2: Brigid's Day, Candlemas, Imbloc, and Groundhog Day. Now days officially the midpoint of winter. The church celebrates this day as the day of the purification of Mary and candles brought to the church are blessed. Candles represent this important date on the traditional calendar stick and on mine. It is also an important day in Wicca, a day of rebirth and awakening of the earth. Personally I celebrate it as Brigid's Day: Brigid, the virgin goddess of fertility and creative inspiration, by making Brigid's crosses, lighting candles and floating them in my small fountain pond dedicated to Brigid (water is a symbol), seeking signs of green peaking through the soil, making something of my own creation, and eating pancakes because they are wheat based and are in the shape of the sun. My symbol is a tiny embroidered Brigid's Cross.

Find tutorials for making the traditional cross, a beautiful Brigid day Candle using pressed flowers, and an embroidered cross by entering Brigid's Day in the search box on this blog. You will also find links to posts sharing more in depth meanings of the beliefs associated with this day.

February 14: St. Valentines Day. A couple of saint days fall before this day, but I have jumped straight to Valentine's Day! I know it is a made up day but...I use it as an excuse to thank people who have enriched my life in many ways even if it was simply assisting me in finding some obscure item in a grocery store! Kirby loved this time because we baked cookies for all the businesses that referred us as photographers and he was the official taster. And it delighted him seeing the smiled and happy eyes when we showed up with our 18" round platters of dozens of cookies. As we drove around delivering 18 platters, he got to snack on 'rejects'. My symbol is a big pink and white Danish Woven Heart. Traditionally they are for Christmas, but many bloggers and crafters have also adopted them for Valentines Day.

February 22: St. Peter's Day. The traditional symbol is a key because it is after all St. Peter who holds the keys to the gates of heaven. I have used ice blue thread because according to one account I found, this is the last day of the year it is prudent to walk on the still frozen lakes and ponds. Do so and expect no rescue from your folly. 

February 24: St. Matthias' Day - the believer who replaced Judas. Since this day was counted twice in leap years, young women could, if they wished, ask a young lad for his hand in marriage! Hummmmmmmm beginning of Sadie Hawkins Day?? My symbol is two suns, one bright yellow with dark blue rays and one dark blue with yellow rays. In my research, I learned that superstitions around this day involved predicting the weather for the coming year. Not unlike ground hog day superstitions!

February 27 Cream Puff Day! And in case you can not tell, the symbol is a cream puff which both Kirby and I loved. We passed a bakery on our way home after school and would use our allowances to buy the most exquisite custard filled cream puffs ever. I made us a batch one year the day before Lent. Kirby, knowing how much I loved creating reasons to celebrate, asked it this could be official Cream Puff Day. He loved my custard filled cream puffs that much!

March 1: St. David's Day - patron saint of Wales. It is a day to celebrate both St. David who founded many Welsh churches and to celebrate Welsh cultural traditions and history. A red dragon on a green and white field is the flag symbol displayed this day and many people wear daffodils or leeks on their lapels. Special foods are served and no doubt lots of singing because the Welsh are blessed with incredibly beautiful singing voices. Since a big part of my gene pool is Welsh, I celebrate with daffodils (hence the daffodil on the calendar) and learning to make Welsh foods.

Primstav Winter Side

March 9: Forty Soldiers. Forty Roman Soldiers were martyred this day in 320AD in Sebast, Turkey. This day was chosed to remember them because it always falls within the 40 days of Lent. The symbol it traditionally a half sun.

March 12: St. Gregory Day. The symbol is usually a dove for St. Gregory; but a crow was used on the calendar sticks. The birds are among my favorite symbols on the traditional calendars. I made sure every one of them appeared on my own calendar - coocoo, dove, goose, crow. They were also loads of fun to embroider!

March 14: Pi day. The symbol is the mathematical expression for pi - 3.14 (rounded off of course) - the ratio of the circumference of a circle to it's diameter. I celebrate the day becaues math has been such a valuable tool throughout my life and I celebrate by baking a new to me pie! And eating it up, of course!

March 17: St. Patrick Day. St. Patrick is the patron saint of Ireland. Widely popular day in the US and Canada as well a the UK for celebrating with irish food and lots of beer! The lucky shamrock is the symbol.

March 20: Grandson's Birthday

March 21: Spring equinox. It is a day to sit outside near my little Brigid fountain pond and float candles to celebrate. And most years Spring's imminent arrival is heralded by plum trees in full bloom and tulip tips showing above the soil, helebores in full bloom. My garden springs into action now and surprises will appear every single morning from now until late summer.

March 25: International Waffle Day. I eat waffles on this day too,  just like everybody else! My symbol is a lopsided waffle because my waffles are always and forever lopsided...and delicious!

March 28: Feast of the Annunciation. The day celebrated as the day Gabrielle shared the news with Mary, mother of Christ, that she was pregnant. The symbol is an open book from which it is thought the message was read.

April 1: April Fool's Day. A court jester seemed a good symbol.

Aptil 12: Special day to honor my friend Nancy in Seattle. We became acquainted through my blog and discovered we have many mutual interests. One of them being Primstavs. She is hoping one day to carve her own version having been inspired by a wooden bowl carved with Primstav symbols. She is a good friend and we are constantly inspiring each other and she has been a huge supporter of my Primstav journey including sending me a book created and published by her Sons of Norway chapter in Seattle which shared a whole section of the meaning of Primstav symbols. So a special day for her is a must. March 12th was chosen because it is before April 14th, the first day of the summer side because...we talked about making and shared our interest before my project began.

Although I have not yet attached it (because it is packed away in my great grandmother's trunk with Christmas ornaments), a lovely red crocheted heart will soon be placed in the very center. I also need to figure out an attachment method that will allow me to turn it as the calendar is turned from summer to winter. The heart was made for me by my friend in Norway, Gill. She also has been a friend from the early days on my blog - we met over my interest in shaved ornaments and our shared love of all things Christmas. She sent me a lovely book, written in Norwegian, "Arets Rytme Vi Lager Var Egen Primstav av Vera Molland, which I translated using google. Questionable translations at times but along with other sources written in English, I was able to put it together. Translation - This Year's Rhythm - We create our own Primstav.

So now you have the whole story! It began as a journey designed to take a year and has actually taken three. If you missed the two previous posts, be sure to read them. And you will find links to the earlier posts describing the design phase and the summer side symbols.

I hope that some of you will be inspired to make your own version of a Primstav Calendar Stick. You can leave out the Saint days altogether if you wish and simply create a calendar that your own family can relate to. Major holidays you celebrate and family member birthdays would be a good start. I wished to be somewhat faithful to tradition, but you don't have to! If you make one of your own, be it drawn, carved, painted, pasted, embroidered, quilted, felted...please send me a picture.

Thank you for joining me on this journey.

The full Primstaf image is here along with links to the earlier posts describing construction and meanings of spring and summer symbols.

Pam, I'm so glad you are


I'm so glad you are posting again. I was getting worried that something had happened to you.
Here's an idea for your heart. Cut out a piece of cardboard or plastic canvas the same size of your heart. Glue a magnet to the base you just made and attach the heart to this base covering the magnet. Use another magnet on the back and the magnetic effect should keep the heart attached to your Primstav but not so that it is permanent. When you turn the Primstav you can adjust the heart so that it is always face up. Hope this idea helps.


Maureen dear, thank you so

Maureen dear, thank you so much for your concern.  I am so sorry for my absence and leaving everyone hanging.  My lovely daughter got me hooked on Instagram a few years back and I use that for "social" connections and have decided to use this blog more as a resource for tutorials and information.  But it has taken me awhile to put that together in my mind.

YOU are BRILLIANT!  What a perfect solution for "attaching" the heart!!!  It is already in use and works perfectly. Thank you thank you thank you.  I really appreciate you sharing your idea.  

And thank you for your continued interest and sticking with me during what has been a challenging time in my life.  

Pam, So glad you are all


So glad you are all right. I was getting worried when you hadn't posted for so long that maybe something had happened.
I have an idea for your heart. You attach it to some cardboard or plastic canvas that has been trimmed to match the heart. Before attaching this heart, put a magnet between the heart and the base. Use another magnet on the back of your Primstav; that will secure the heart to the piece. Theoretically the heart will be able to be turned as to the seasons and always face upright without having to sew and re-sew as needed.
How is Diane? Miss her blog and reading about her projects.
Again, glad you are fine.


Maureen, Diane is doing

Maureen, Diane is doing great!!!  She is still pursuing her creative nature but in different ways. I will let her know you sent your best wishes.

I loved the little bit of

I loved the little bit of embroidery I saw. Would love to see the whole pattern.

The full primstav can be

The full primstav can be viewed in the blog in a previous post.  I will add a link. Thank you.  Good suggestion.

Beautiful! I hope that you'll

Beautiful! I hope that you'll show us a picture of the whole thing!

And, a suggestion for hanging- my late friend used to make gorgeous, round, hand-painted Celtic calendars. His method of hanging was a leather strap, around the outside edge, that was nailed down at intervals to create loops. The calendar could be hung by a loop (I just have a nail in the wall), and easily rotated to a new loop when necessary. Perhaps you could use a ribbon for the loops? You could use decorative tacks to create the loops.

Cindy, I am glad you enjoyed

Cindy, I am glad you enjoyed this post.  The two previous posts share both more symbols, a picture of the completed piece and links to the other posts for the summer side and design process.  Thank you for your note.