The Old Magic of Christmas: Yuletide Traditions for the Darkest Days of the Year

Free The Old Magic of Christmas: Yuletide Traditions for the Darkest Days of the Year by Linda Raedisch

Book: The Old Magic of Christmas: Yuletide Traditions for the Darkest Days of the Year by Linda Raedisch Read Free Book Online
Authors: Linda Raedisch
Tags: Non-Fiction
Tablespoons sugar
    2 ½ cups flour
    For the filling:
    1 small jar (8 oz) apricot jam
    About 3½ oz marzipan, i.e. half a box Odense or other
    brand “almond candy dough”
    Pinch cinnamon
    For the glaze:
    1 egg white
    In a large bowl, mix all of the dough ingredients, adding the flour a little at a time. When the flour has all been worked in, form the dough into a ball. It will be sticky. Wrap the ball lightly in plastic wrap and refrigerate several hours or overnight.
    Cut the chilled dough into four quarters. Work with one
    quarter at a time, leaving the rest wrapped up in the refrig-erator. Roll out the dough on wax paper until it’s about 1/8
    inch thick or as thin as you can get it. Cut into circles with a cup or large glass.
    Place the circles on a greased cookie sheet or one lined
    with baking parchment. Spread each one sparingly with
    apricot jam and sprinkle with a little cinnamon. Place a
    pinch of marzipan at the edge of the circle of dough, then roll the circle up with the marzipan inside. Bend the roll into a crescent or “horn,” pinching the tips.
    Brush horns with egg white and bake at 350 F for 20–25
    minutes or until lightly browned.
    72 Riders on White Horses
    The Wild Rider
    The image of St. Martin as a Roman soldier never really
    took hold in the Anglo-Saxon realm where another older
    rider on a white horse appeared in the woods at this time
    of year. He was known as the Wild Rider, Wild Huntsman,
    Hakelbarend or simply Grim. His mount, like the cloudy
    November sky, was aeppelfealo or “apple gray”—what later speakers of English would call “dappled.” He wore a swirling cloak of blue or black homespun felted against the elements, much rougher stuff than that worn by the German
    Martin. Of course, none dared to touch the cloak’s greasy
    edge as the Rider thundered past; if they knew what was
    good for them, they ran for cover. Those who were fool-
    ish enough to look him in the face saw that he kept half his own face covered by a floppy-brimmed hat or hood, hiding
    the eye which was not an eye at all but a dark, empty socket.
    Before the sixth century, this ghostly huntsman would
    have been openly acknowledged as Woden, god of magic
    and the dead, retriever of the runes, of poetry and the mead that inspires it. Even after he had lost his divine status, he was treated with deference. Those living in and around the forest would have known which tracks he preferred and
    scrupulously avoided them when he was abroad. The lonely
    yeoman surprised in the woods by the croaking of ravens
    and the pounding of hooves knew to hide behind a shelter
    of nine boards or, if that were not possible, to throw himself face down on the ground and wait until the spectral
    hunting party had passed. Most importantly, he must not
    answer their hunting cry or try to engage them in conversation lest he become one of their number.
    Riders on White Horses 73
    From November on through the Twelve Nights of
    Christmas13, it was wise to stay out of barns that had opposite doors, for these were the ones through which the Wild Hunt was most likely to pass. This makes perfect sense
    when we take into account the fact that Woden’s hunting
    party was comprised not of the recently dead but of the
    long, predominantly heathen dead. A long hall with a door
    at each end was the construction with which these spirits
    were most familiar, for this was the blueprint the Angles
    and Saxons had brought with them from the lowlands of
    northern Germany. Back in the old country, the Wild Hunt
    left gifts behind when they passed through such houses.
    Quite often, the Wild Hunt was not seen, only heard,
    leading some to speculate that the phenomenon was noth-
    ing more than a flock of migratory birds crying out of a
    cloud as they passed overhead. Even when it was “seen,”
    the witness might have been observing only what the sto-
    ries had led him to expect. In other words, just because it wasn’t there didn’t mean you couldn’t see

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