Wednesday, September 14, 2005

Ante Diem XVIII Kalendas October

Modern Date : September 14th

Ante Diem XVIII Kalendas October
The Ludi Romani

This is one of the dies fasti on which legal actions are permitted.

The Ludi Romani, the great games in honor of Jupiter (Jove) continued this day and were celebrated through to the 19th.

Drusus, the son of Tiberius, died at Rome this day in 23 AD.

Domitian became emperor this day in 81 AD. He was granted immediate tribunician power.

This was the second day of the Egyptian Feast of Lights, during which Neter images and tombs were brilliantly illuminated all through the night.

September is the 'magical' seventh month (after March).

The Day of the Holy Nut
In England, this is the Devil's Nutting Day, or the Day of the Holy Nut. Hazelnuts collected on this day have magical properties. Double nuts (two on a stalk) ward off rheumatism, toothache and the spells of witches. But don't gather them if they're unripe. The hazel is a powerful tree (the tree of wisdom, in Celtic mythos) and gathering unripe nuts can be dangerous.

The story goes that The Devil's Nightcap (there are several hills with this name) near Alcester, in Warwickshire, was formed when the devil was out nutting and met the Virgin Mary. He was so surprised and shocked that he dropped his bag of nuts, which became the hill.

Generally people do not go nutting on any Sunday in Autumn because you might meet Old Nick gathering nuts.

"This day they say is called Holy Rood Day
And all the youths are now a-nutting gone."

It's interresting to note that Old Nick during the Middle Ages is closely associated with Woten or Odin (of the Norse Mythos). In modern times Old St. Nick or Santa Claus has the same association with Odin. St. Nickolas is one of the patron saints of sailors, and Greek sailors are supposed to bring in their boats on this day. See below.

Holy Rood Day
This is also Holy Rood Day, commemorating the rescue of the relic of the True Cross by Emperor Heraclius of Constantinople when it was carried off by Chosroes II, King of Persia in 614. Rufus (The World Holiday Book), says that historians now believe the Church instituted this feast to replace rites honoring Demeter and Persephone (perhaps the Eleusinian Mysteries?).

Many churches in Britain were dedicated to the Holy Rood or Cross. One at Edinburgh 'became the nucleus of the palace of the Scottish kings. Holyrood Day was one of much sacred observance all through the middle ages. The same feeling led to a custom of framing, between the nave and choir of churches, what was called a rood-screen or rood-loft, presenting centrally a large crucifix, with images of the Holy Virgin and St. John on each side. A winding stair led up to it, and the epistle and gospel were often read from it. Some of these screens still remain, models of architectural beauty; but numbers were destroyed with reckless fanaticism at the Reformation, the people not distinguishing between the objects which had caused what they deemed idolatry and the beautifully carved work which was free from such a charge.

Tickle (Ordinary Time), notes that this holiday was originally observed in September, then moved to May, perhaps to bring it closer to Easter, when the symbol of the cross is most visible. Then the Church reversed its position and moved it back to the 14th of September. Tickle also notes that the Wednesday, Friday and Saturday directly after Holy Cross Day are Ember Days, days devoted to prayers for the clergy.

"Holy-Rood, come forth and shield
Us i' th' city and the field;
Safely guard us, now and aye,
From the blast that burns by day;
And those sounds that us affright
In the dead of dampish night;
Drive all hurtful fiends us fro,
By the time the cocks first crow."
Robert Herrick; 'The Old Wives' Prayer'

In Greece, this is the day when seamen bring their boats in until April, according to this proverb:

"On the day of the Cross, cross your sails and tie your ropes; rest in harbor. On St. George's Day, rise and set sail again."