The Date of Mitrovdan (November 8) and Serbian Lore Regarding the First Day of Winter and the “Master of Wolves”

Koleda (winter festival) spirit wolves. Masks made by artist Leon Uršič; photo courtesy of Primož Hieng

Koleda (winter festival) spirit wolves. Masks made by artist Leon Uršič; photo courtesy of Primož Hieng

“Know your history, know yourself. No history? Then you have no self to speak of.” –What my mother Milanka said to me over her coffee this morning as she and my dad began to regale me with Mitrovdan anecdotes

The ancient Serbs, like the ancient Celts, used to recognize two seasons: summer and winter, which, after Christianization, were marked by the fixed dates of the Feasts of Saint George (May 6) and Saint Demetrios (November 8), respectively. As a modern Pagan, it’s easy for me to see the parallels with the Great Sabbats of Beltane and Samhain in Celtic tradition, for those Days of Power did herald the beginnings of summer and winter. The parallel between the Feast of St. Demetrios–known as Mitrovdan in Serbian–and the Celtic Samhain is delineated even more clearly when one considers that in the Old Julian Calendar, Mitrovdan was commemorated on October 26. Continue reading