Goddess / Winter Solstice


Mother Holda, an ancient Germanic Goddess, has many surviving stories. She is connected in several ways to our contemporary concept of Santa Claus. She was a teacher, a spinner, a wise woman. She was a Fate Goddess, a Protector and Guide of the souls of the dead to their new life in the next world. Even in modern day, when it snows, people say that Mother Holda is shaking out her down comforter.

An old Germanic tradition that survives is the laying out of an offering of a bowl of milk and food for Holda by the hearth fire on the eve of Her festival day, December 25th. The custom evolved to the setting of a place for Mother Holda at the table the meal before the family went to Christmas Mass, leaving her a bowl of milk when the family left the house, then carrying it outside to pour on the ground or leave for the animals after the family returned. This custom seems very close to the leaving of cookies and milk for Santa by the fire, doesn’t it?

Holda is the Queen of Winter in Her Crone aspect. The snow flies as She shakes out Her cape or Her down comforter. Goddess of Prosperity and Generosity, gold coins drop from Her cape when She unfurls it. But She also holds people to standards of hard work and industriousness. She does not brook laziness. Holda, or Frau Holle, travels in the winds with the souls of the dead, mostly children and babies. She can be heard howling with grief as she bears the babies’ souls tenderly to Heaven.

Holda is connected to the 12 days of Christmas because Her festival days beginning on the evening of the 24th of December began a 12 day party that lasted to January 6th, the Festival Day of Her sister Goddess Perchta, the winter hag Goddess. The Catholic Church assimilated both these Solstice festivals in northern Europe as Christmas ending in Epiphany (commemorating the visit of the Magi to the baby Jesus – bringing gifts).

In Her Mother aspect, Holda appears as the body of the World Tree – front half woman, back half tree – who gave birth to humankind. The name Holda, or Holle, is also associated with the holly plant or tree, which has been used for centuries to decorate and protect the home for this season.

This Northern European Goddess Holda (Hulda or Holle) is a Triple Goddess who as Maiden appears as beautiful and stately, flowing blonde hair shimmering and shining like the light of the sun, with a white, or red and white, goosedown cape. She flies through the night sky on the night of December 24th bringing gifts and joy. Her name means, “kind”, “merciful” or “gracious one”. It was She who determined who was “naughty or nice”. She rewarded the industrious and kind with good health and good fortune, and punished the lazy and selfish.

May Holda bless you with much good health and good fortune in these days surrounding the Rebirth of the Sun.

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