Birke

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Birke
BirkeBeith.jpg
Observed by
elves, humans, possibly other races
Type
Cultural, seasonal, astronomical
Significance
Spring equinox; astromomical end of winter and beginning of springtime. From this point on, days are longer than the nights; the time of rebirth and great fertility. Beginning of Birke savaed.
Celebrations
festivals chasing away the winter; greeting of spring with making bonfires, topping out, ventilating and cleaning houses, washing and preparing fresh clothing, baking pastries and painting eggs; making festive feasts
Date
vernal equinox, around 20th March
Related to
Velen (the fall equinox)

Birke is the spring equinox, beginning around March 20, the first day of a year when daytime and night are of approximately equal duration. It's a celebration that marks the end of the savaed Imbolc and the beginning of the savaed with the same name, fourth of eight in the elven calendar.

The second equinox day is the fall or autumnal equinox, called velen. Observed initially by elves, it was adopted by humans and has become an important holiday on their calendar. An important event was the day of Birke in the year 1133 when the Prophet Lebioda preached to his followers under the big oak tree in Woody Dam, Emblonia. On each Birke day, the closing ceremony of the novitiate connected with admission to Melitele's priesthood was organised.

Notes[edit | edit source]

  • Several traditions arose in our world around the march equinox.
    • It is associated with the leaving of winter, coming of spring and the dawn; time of rebirth and great fertility. Days begin to become longer than the nights.
      Festivals among the common people start with rites chasing away the winter; people burn or drown effigies symbolizing winter with bringing the noise of clattering and rattling of rattles, singing and playing all sorts of instruments.
      The distal portion of preparations is related with greeting of spring. Bonfires are lit, youth set off on a meadow and into the woods in search of willow and hazel twigs, of which they erect constructions for topping out. In order to run out an old, nested evil, people ventilates and clean their houses and farmyards, wash and prepare fresh clothing. The whole farm is walked around and incensed by herbaceous incenses. Is carried out planting flowers, trees and herbs. Festive pastries are baked, and eggs are painted to bring to the homes energy and zest for life, to ensure a good harvest and fortune for the whole growing season.
      Culmination of the festival is making festive feasts combined with singing, dancing and giving away painted eggs.
      In some regions, the day after main fest is celebrated between youth by throwing water and spanking each other with pussy willow branches.
  • The name of the feast is apparently connected with the birch tree, which has spiritual importance in several religions, both modern and historical. In Celtic cultures, the birch symbolises growth, renewal, stability, initiation and adaptability because it is highly adaptive and able to sustain harsh conditions with casual indifference. Proof of this adaptability is seen in its easy and eager ability to repopulate areas damaged by forest fires or clearings. Birches are also associated with the Tír na nÓg, the land of the dead and the Sidhe, in Gaelic folklore, and as such frequently appear in Scottish, Irish, and English folksongs and ballads in association with death, or fairies, or returning from the grave.