As with any other custom, a Gaulish custom one needs holidays. Those special times of year where we come together to observe specific Dêuoi for specific reasons. As well as attuning ourselves to the cycle of the seasons, and what that means for us. Bessus Nouiogalation is no exception.
In a previous article, we talked about the Sequanni Calendar. The IVOS clusters on the calendar are thought to denote holidays. That being the case, it gives us an idea of where to put at least some holidays. Therefore, it’s fitting to use those clusters to put forth a kind of list of holidays. Along with that, using their placements in the year, we’ll try to use that as a guide to figure out both what to call these holidays, and what they may be about. In this way, even if we don’t know the original traditions, we can be inspired to develop some of our own.
For reference sake, we use the BNG Coligny Calendar designed by Ucetion. We feel that they has put together a great working model of the calendar, we’re proud of Ucetion for putting it together. Helen Mckay’s work here is a good companion to it,
In the history of the calendar, the length of an age, or where the calendar completed its cycle, went from 30 to 25 years as time went by. As the Metonic cycle is the most accurate as far as lunisolar timekeeping goes, as without it, there is quite an eventual drift. It seems to be a good borrowing. This puts the calendar’s full cycle at 19 years. Remembering that the calendar was originally in a temple to Apollo, who was said to make a journey to the land of the Hyperboreans (a mythic people who lived “beyond the lands of the Celts”) every 19 years. So, it’s far from the least plausible leap.
By retaining the names of the months, and being able to keep up with the same methodology of a lunisolar calendar, we see a synthesis of retaining the old while being able to adapt and borrow as the Gauls themselves did.
So, with that reference noted, we should also say that even without the Metonic adaptation, the holidays are still in the same time range. Though the purpose of this article is not to discuss the calendar, we wanted to give some background into the frame of reference we use for the holidays. What we see when looking at the calendar is that there are several points in the year where the notation ‘IVOS’ is attached to several days in a row.
As Iuos notations cluster around certain times of the year, it can be assumed that they are likely holidays. It cannot be said for sure how long a given holiday was observed. As the clusters may point to a range of time in which it was acceptable to observe a given holiday. The pain with the Iuos clusters is that though they are consistent, they still show up in different months on the calendar throughout the years.
Though intercalations are involved with that slight distortion, the timing of the holidays themselves are actually completely consistent. So, on the calendar, the clusters will show up on one month or one other, two at the most. However, it is still consistent because these clusters are marked by one specific moon. In other words, an Iuos cluster may show up around 1 Simiuisonna one year, and near 1 Equos the next, but it will be the same moon in the lunar cycle.
The months start at the first quarter moon, in line with Pliny the Elder’s statement that the Gauls started their months six days after the new moon. This assumes a first quarter start, and a first quarter moon is easily visible. If this sounds confusing, and it did to me at first, it will be made clear now in this list of holidays. Remember that the moon is your friend. Without further ado, the holidays of Bessus Nouiogalation:
Sonnocingos Nouios “New Year” – This one needs the calendar linked above for reference. As it’s the first day on the calendar itself. 1 Samonios is the date most years. Whenever there is an intercalary month of Quimonios, it is 1 Quimonios.
Cintusamos “Start of Summer” – Always two first quarter moons before the summer solstice.
Samolitus “Summer Festival” – Always the first quarter moon before the summer solstice.
Trinox Samoni “Three nights of Samonios” – This one also requires the app linked above. Starts on 17 Samonios. Usually the third quarter moon closest to the summer solstice. However, it can be on or just after it. No more than a week after.
Cerdolitus “Crafting Feast” – Third quarter moon before Cintumessus below.
Cintumessus “First Harvest” – Always two first quarter moons after the summer solstice.
Catus Alisiâs “Battle of Alessia” – Third quarter moon closest to the autumn equinox. Always 17 Ogronios.
Cintugiamos “Start of Winter” – Two first quarter moons before the winter solstice.
Giamolitus “Winter Feast” – Full moon closest to the winter solstice.
Adbiuos “To Life, Quickening” – Two first quarter moons after the winter solstice.
Uisonnalitus “Spring Feast” – Just after the new moon closest to the spring equinox.
These are the holidays, or as has been jested about “Gaulidays” that we have come to a conclusion upon. At a later date, we will look at each holiday in depth. Until then, thanks for reading!