Wednesday, November 23, 2005

Ante Diem IX Kalendas December

Modern Date : November 23rd

Ante Diem IX Kalendas December
Ninth Day to the Kalends of December

This is one of the dies comitiales when committees of citizens could vote on political or criminal matters.

On this day in 626 BCE the King of Bablylon, Nabopolossar, acceeded to the throne.

November is the ninth month (after March) and is a lucky month which is almost free of religious obligation.

This is the first day of winter according to the Julian calendar.

Wayland the Smith
Today is also the feast day of Wayland the Smith which was absorbed by the Christian Church as St. Clement's Feast. Wayland the Smith was a god of smith and metalwork. Wayland also spelled Weland, in Scandinavian, German, and Anglo-Saxon legend, was a smith of outstanding skill. He was, according to some legends, a lord of the elves. His story is told in the Völundarkvida, one of the poems in the 13th-century Icelandic Elder, or Poetic, Edda, and, with variations, in the mid-13th-century Icelandic prose Thidriks saga. He is also mentioned in the Anglo-Saxon poems Waldere and “Deor,” in Beowulf (all from the 6th to the 9th century), and in a note inserted by Alfred the Great into his 9th-century translation of Boëthius.

Wayland was captured by the Swedish king Nídud (Nithad, or Níduth), lamed to prevent his escape, and forced to work in the king's smithy. In revenge, he killed Nídud's two young sons and made drinking bowls from their skulls, which he sent to their father. He also raped their sister, Bödvild, when she brought a gold ring to be mended, and then he escaped by magical flight through the air.

An English tradition connects Wayland with a stone burial chamber near White Horse Hill, Berkshire, known as Wayland's Smithy. It was here that Merlin commissioned him to make the great sword Excalibur for King Arthur. A local legend says the chamber is haunted by an invisible smith who will shoe a horse for a traveler, provided that a coin is left on a stone and that the traveler absents himself while the work is in progress. If he tries to watch or if he looks toward the smithy, the charm will fail. Similar stories have been recorded in Germany, Denmark, and Belgium. Some large stones at Sisebeck in Sweden and a site at Vellerby in Jutland are traditionally said to be Wayland's burial places.

St Clement
An early Bishop of Rome, who became the patron of mariners and ironworkers, especially blacksmiths, supposedly because he was martyred by being tied to an iron anchor and drowned in the sea. On this day in England, up until the 19th century, smiths fired their anvils by exploding gunpowder on them and marched about in procession. In the Midlands, children went "'clementing" for fruit and pennies, singing a rhyme about St. Clement, recorded by Kightly (The Perpetual Almanack of Folklore):

St. Clements, St. Clements comes once in a year
Apples and pears are very good cheer
Got no apples, money will do
Please to give us one of the two
Father's at work and Mother's at play
Please to remember St. Clement's Day.

Clement is also the patron saint of hatters, from a legend that says when he was fleeing his persecutors his feet became blistered and he put wool between his sandals and the soles of his feet. The pressure, perspiration and motion applied to the wool turned it into felt, a substance he is credited with inventing.

Nihinahe Festival
The Japanese Nihinahe or Shinjosai Festival is held in honor of Konohana-sakuya-hime ("Princess who blossoms like the flowers of the trees"), also known as Kami-ataka-ashitsu-hime ("Divine Ata Princess'), consort of Ninigi, the August Grandchild of the Sun-Goddess. The new season's rice is offered to the Gods and eaten by the Emperor for the first time.

This day is also the Baha'i feast honoring the Deity as Quwl, Sacred Speech.

Lha Bab Duchen
In this year's Tibetan Buddhist calendar, 11/23 is the culmination of Lha Bab Duchen, the autumn festival that celebrates the Buddha Shakyamuni's descent from the Tushita Heaven, where he had gone for three months in a gesture of gratitude to his mother, to teach her, and other gods and goddesses, the secrets of release from samsara, the round of birth and death.