Winter, 2022—Chris Friend
Hello and Happy New Year
from Mars. This month, we chose to reprint one of Chris’ favorite Mars articles
from way back in issue #65—ed.
In the Old World Halloween was not the only spooky
holiday. Saint Andrew’s Eve (Nov. 30th) was a night of many uncanny events
throughout Europe in the old days. Like Halloween it was a night of
divinations and magic. On this night a young girl could pour hot wax into cold
water and it would take the form of the tools of her future husband’s trade. In
some versions the wax would take the form of the letter of the alphabet that
would be the first letter of her future husband’s last name.
In old Saxony and Bohemia a maiden would go into the darkness to
extract a piece of wood from the wood pile. If the wood was sturdy and
strong, her future husband would be well built and healthy. If the piece of
wood was twisted and knotted, her future groom would be equally ill developed
and possibly hunchbacked.
But the most interesting folklore about St. Andrew’s Eve can
found in old time Rumania. On this night it was believed that vampires left
their graves and wandered. Great processions of vampires, werewolves, and
goblins (among other spooks) could be seen traveling on Saint Andrew’s Eve. It
was an especially bad night for travelers who might find themselves at a lonely
crossroads; these intersections were the favorite hunting grounds for the
undead and their kindred.
Most old peasant women, trusting the power of garlic, would smear
it on door locks and window frames. Often doorways and window casements would
be painted blue, the bane of vampires and their ilk. And, at one time, Saint
Andrew’s Eve was considered the first day of winter in Western Germany.
One spell a young maid of yesteryear might use goes
thus: “St. Andrew’s Eve is today, sleep all people—all children of men, who are
between heaven and earth—except this only man, maybe mine in marriage.”
Lithuania, the last country to be converted to Christianity, pagan traditions
lasted into the sixteenth and seventeenth centuries where, many travelers
reported, late October remained the pagan New Year. One person’s account
had the celebration being held on Halloween, but others reported it being held
on November 2nd. On this night straw was strewn on tables and sacks of
straw were tossed onto the floor. Bread and two jugs of beer were set upon
the table, along with servings of every variety of farm animal roasted on an
A prayer was offered
to an ancient god known as Zimiennik (possibly an ancestral spirit), which went:
“Accept our burnt sacrifice, oh Zimiennik, and kindly partake
thereof.” Then a great feast followed. Like traditional Halloween,
the shades of the dead were invited to leave their graves and share in the
celebration by eating from huge platters of food left out for three days.
Sometimes food and drink would even be left on familial graves.
And from January 2022…
is named after Janus, the Roman god of thresholds. Janus is depicted as having
two faces—one looking at the past and another looking foreward. Thresholds are
important during the New Year since it’s betwixt and between the old and new
year. Midnight is also threshold time between yesterday and tomorrow, the
reason people set off fireworks and other rough music is to drive away the dark
forces of the old year and set the stage for the positive forces of the New Year.
Janus was also connected to the crossroads which is another uncanny place connected
to thresholds and the supernatural.
Janus is considered one of the oldest gods in the Roman pantheon.
He is likely a part of the mythos even before the Romans came about. The Roman
temple dedicated to Janus has two doorways known as the gates of war. When Rome
saw peace throughout the kingdom the doorway of peace was left open. His two
faces represent looking at both the old year and forward to the new. At this
time the Romans held a great revelry to drive out the old and embrace the new. Oven-baked
whole grain was left out for Janus to get the year off on the proverbial ‘first
Parkersberg, W.Va , who wrote BP #85’s poem, “Demons Play Flutes”; BP # 84’s
poems, “The Sentinel” and “Psalm of Mithra”; the BP #81 poem set, “Angel of the
Bereft,” Beauty’s Sleep,” & “Dark Trinity”; the BP #80 poem, “The Temple of
Colors”; BP #79 poems, “The Marquis” and “My Bloody Valentine”; the BP #78
poem, “The Old Yule Goat”; BP #77’s 4-poem set: “At 50,” “Owls,” “Vintage
Halloween,” & “Xmas in the Doll Asylum”; BP #76’s 4-poem set: “Hag Fairy
Communion,” “Love’s Sepulcher,” “Night Wanderer,” & “St. Andrew’s Feast”;
poems for BP #75, “Angel of the Pagan Dead” and “Churchyard Watcher”; BP #72’s
2-poem set, “Ed Gein” & “Sour Puss”; and the 2008 poem “All Hallows’ Eve”,
writes and illustrates our “MARS News” column. He did a cover for Black Petals back
in 2000 for the fall issue, and has been around ever since. BP keeps up two
websites for him and prints his column in the issue quarterly. Chris has a
gallery at http://chris.michaelherring.net/
and was featured artist in Kurt Newton’s Ultimate
PerVersities (Naked Snake) [Jan. 2011].