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. In this case, different folks have different answers.
In a previous article, I 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, I use the Coligny Calendar App designed by Sapouidugnatos Cincibilos. I feel that he has put together the best working model of the calendar, and as it comes with a Metonic cycle option, it does not drift in a way that doesn’t fix itself. For reasons previously stated.
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, I 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, I wanted to give some background into the frame of reference I 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 Tegoslougos Nemotarvos
Centusamos “Start of Summer” – Cintus (first, start) and Samos, which means “Summer”. Centusamos falls two first quarter moons before the summer solstice. This puts it around 1 Samonios, 1 Cantlos, or 1 Quimonios depending on the year. It will always fall on whichever month will start two moons before the solstice. Also called Îuos Maponî. Or whatever deity one might want to associate with it.
Centusamos is of course the start of the summer. In this sense, a parallel can be drawn with Calan Haf (Wales), the Old Irish word Cétamain, Beltaine (Ireland), and May Day generally. The frost is gone, the weather is pleasant, and the land is alive.
Associated Deity: Maponos. As a God of youthfulness and pleasures, He is a fitting recipient for ritual this time of year.
Potential inclusions or alternatives: Belenos, for His associations with light and healing as well as battle, which occurs more in the summer.
Samolitus “Summer Festival” – Samos (Summer), Litus (feast, festival), comparable to Midsummer celebrations. Samolitus is observed on the first quarter moon before the summer solstice. This falls around 1 Dumannios normally, otherwise 1 Samonios. Always the quarter moon before the summer solstice. Also called Îuos Taranes.
Samolitus is the Midsummer celebration. The highest point of Samos, the time of victory over Giamos. This is the brightest time of the year. I consider this the time when Taranis slays His great foe. My favorite of the holidays!
Associated Deity: Taranis! Wielder of lightning and thunder, bearer of truth and the principle of Samos. Was there even another guess?
Centumethâs “First Harvest” – Two first quarters after the Summer Solstice. This means the start of Anagantios some years, the start of Riuros in others. Also called Îuos Luguos.
This is of course a time to celebrate Lugus and the grain harvest. His wife, Rosmertâ is also given offering this time of year.
Catu Alessiâs “Battle of Alessia” – This was thought to take place on the 3rd of October, 52 BCE. That means on the applicable version of the Coligny Calendar, it took place on 17 Ogronios. The Siege of Alessia resulted in the end of a Free Gaul, and the deaths of thousands, including noncombatants. This is, as one may imagine, a holiday of mourning for the great loss that shaped history ever after. Eponâ or Catuboduâ may be appropriate to offer to here, however I think the focus here is placed on those who died at Alessia, and/or our Gaulish ancestors in a general sense.
Centugiamos “Start of Winter”- This falls around 1 Giamonios normally, otherwise 1 Cutios or 1 Rantaranos. Regardless, this is two first quarter moons before the winter solstice. Also called Îuos Sucellî.
This is the end of summer, the beginning of winter. Time and the days are going dark, like a descent into Dubnos. So we turn to the Underworld for guidance.
Associated Deities: Sucellos, Nantosueltâ, and the Ancestors. The deities and dead are honored at this time.
Possible inclusions or alternatives: Ogmios, as He was compared to Hercules, who was suspected to be an ancestor of the Gauls.
Giamolitus “Winter Feast” – Giamos (winter), litus (feast). This is a one day holiday. Always falling on either 9 Giamonios or 9 Simiuisonna. This is around the full moon closest to the winter solstice. This is of course, the darkest time of the year, but with the full moon perhaps it shows that light was still sought and could shine through it. Also called Îuos Eponiâs.
In mainstream culture, there are many holidays this time of year. So regardless of how big it was in regards to the Gaulish world of the past, it may hold more meaning today. Warmth, feasting, and gift giving are good motifs for this time of year. This is also the time of the Wild Hunt, led by Eponâ.
Associated Deity: Eponâ. As leader of the Wild Hunt, and in recent lore, a new myth, mother of Maponos.
Possible inclusions or alternatives: Artius, as a Bear Goddess, may be involved in leading bears to their winter torpor. Carnonos is another possibility.
Biuiacolanos “Quickening” – This holiday falls two first quarter moons after the winter solstice. Around 1 Equos or 1 Elembiuos. As winter starts to loosen grip, we might see signs of spring. The days are starting to get longer again. Also called Îuos Suleuiâs.
Assosciated Deity: This is a time of cleansing, renewal, and bringing back warmth. Suleuiâ fits these things and this holiday is dedicated to Her.
Possible inclusion or alternative: Brigantiâ, if one sees Her in a similar way as Brighid, who is associated with the Irish holiday Imbolc which occurs around this time of year.
Uisonnalitus “Spring Feast” – A peculiar day when noting that there’s no reasontto think that the Gauls observed anything related to the vernal equinox. However, there is an Iuos day a few days after the new moon, likely the first sliver, closest to the vernal equinox. This falls on 25 Aedrinios or 25 Elembiuos on some years. Also called Îuos Sironiâs.
Though there isn’t much precedent in the Celtic world, there is a modern holiday named after an Anglo-Saxon goddess. It may be that as one might notice day getting closer to overtaking night that this time was noted, or that it was seen as a dawning in that regard. I don’t know, but this eighth holiday balances the calendar out, and does seem to have been a holiday. What it meant, we can only speculate.
Associated Deities: Sironâ, as snakes and springs both emerge at this time. I think a lot of Her symbolism is fitting for this time of year.
Possible inclusion or alternative: Artius, as again, a Bear Goddess, this would be around the time that bears emerge from their torpor.
These are the holidays, or as has been jested about “Gaulidays” that I have come to a conclusion upon. At a later date, we will look at each holiday in depth. Until then, thanks for reading!
Before I go: There is one that I use personally, but if you all like it, feel free to use it.
Methâlitus “Harvest Feast” – This is a holiday of my own making. My reasoning is twofold. First, most harvests locally are done around the autumnal equinox. The Harvest Moon is an often mentioned in relation to the harvest season. The harvest moon falls around 9 Ogronios. Therefore, this was an easy innovation to make. Also called Îuos Carnonî.
This time of year is lively in my area, but that winter isn’t too far off. This is, in effect, a time of transition from summer to winter.
Associated Deity: Carnonos. He is called upon to guide us during this time of change.