This is one of those instances of reconstruction in which the Catholic Church likely retained information about a goddess and imprinted it on one of their saints. In this case, we believe the goddess to be Frouwa and the saint is St. Gertrude of Nivelles.
Ironically, Gertrudsdaag (also Trudisdaag, St. Gertrude's Day, Potato Day, Grumbieredaag, March 17) has always been a thing among the Deitsch even though the Catholic population is small compared to the much larger Lutheran and Reformed bodies. The rise of commercial St. Patrick's Day impacted the breadth of the St. Gertrude observance, but, over the last few years, we've been seeing an increase in discussion about the Deitsch traditions associated with it. Much of the growth in interest seems to be coming from the Protestants, which may surprise some people; however, this is not the only feast day of a saint that is observed in some way by Protestants or even Anabaptists. The Amish shut down on October 11 for St. Michael's Day, even though they would never pray to the saint himself.
As is the case with many observances, many Christians will acknowledge the likely Heathen roots of this observance, which we in Urglaawe call by the Grumbieredaag (Potato Day) name. Potatoes have become a staple crop for the Deitsch since arrival, and tradition is that March 17 is the day to put potatoes in the ground. This is first official planting of the season.
Echoing Heathen roots even more are rituals to feed the Heinzelmenner or other Kowwold (kobolds) and to bring fertility to the garden. The Waldmops, the Lord of the Beasts, is also honored with offerings on this day. Specific foods include Datsch (a type of almost granola-like potato bread) and spring onions.
One thing I find important in this observance is the completion of the potato cycle. Potato bread from last year's harvest is consumed and offered to the land at the time that this year's crop is being planted.
While there are other connections that come up to other goddesses (particularly to Holle and to Freid/Frigg), Grimm (305) makes a connection between Gertrude and Frowa/Frouwa, and this is generally accepted by the Urglaawe community.
Frouwa's name did not come up often in our interviews, but one of my earliest interviews was with a Hexerei practitioner who identified as a devotee of Frouwa. Presented were some of the attributes that our Norse-oriented siblings would recognize in Freya: sex, beauty, fertility, fecundity... and, of course, the cats. Like Frouwa and Freya, St. Gertrude is the guardian of cats.
The ritual is simple, and I will post the program I follow as the time draws nearer. However, you may want to begin to gather items now, particularly if you are interested in William Woys Weaver's "Dutch Treats."
Most of us do this observance in our own yards, but it is also fine to gather a group together.
Potatoes, spring onions (scallions), and/or cabbage seeds, if planting
Bread (Datsch is preferred but not required; see Dutch Treats by William Woys Weaver, pp. 103-105 for traditional recipe; also posted in the Urglaawe Culinary Guild group on Facebook)
Beans (at least three but more is better)
Offerings to Butzemann (if applicable)
Treats to be set out for Frouwa's cats and strays (if applicable; preferably something white, such as fish, white meat chicken, or dried catnip flowers)
Frouwa statuary (optional; Freya statuary is also appropriate)
Decorations (optional; flowers, etc.)
This is a simple fertility ritual that serves in Urglaawe as a devotional to Frouwa. Set up your devotional area (outdoors preferred) however works for you.
First, sow or plant potatoes, cabbage, or spring onions.
I usually intone runes at the beginning of rituals, and, if there is a group, we state our purpose for gathering, and then call to Frouwa to join us as an honored guest.
at the rear door of your house. If you do not have a rear door, the front door is fine. While standing by the door, say the following chant:
Ebbes Griene, Ebbes Schwatze
Ebbes Weisse fer Ihre Katze.
Backt mer Datsch am Frouwasdaag,
Schtrae die Grimmle wu Sie mag,
Vum Eck zum Eck am Gaarderanft,
So wachse die Greider uff ‘s Land
Something Green, Something Black
Something white for her cats,
One bakes Datsch on Frouwa’s Day,
Scatter the crumbs where She wishes.
From corner to corner along the garden’s edge,
So the plants grow on the land.
Walk to the corner of your garden (if no garden, then to the corner of your property) closest to the door where you began. walk in a clockwise manner the perimeter of the garden or property, and, at the first corner or hard turn, scatter a few large crumbs of bread. While scattering, say the following blessing:
Es fiehrt die Frouwa die Kieh zum Graut,
die Biene zum Fluck,
un die Pferd zum Zuck.
The Frouwa leads the cows to fodder,
the bees to flight,
and the horses to pull.
Then take three beans and cast them into the interior of the yard (note, if you only have three beans, reserve them for the final corner or turn instead of casting them now).
Proceed to continue to walk the perimeter, stopping at each corner or hard turn and repeating the scattering and the blessing. The beans are an offering to the land and to the land spirits, including the Waldmops (and you should say his name aloud), and you may hail them as you scatter the beans. I will provide more information about the Waldmops when the program is completed.
Once you have returned to your starting point, say your personal thanks to Frouwa, and drop any outdoor offerings to Her cats. Then close the rite.
If you have a Butzemann, make an offering to him as well.
This ritual creates the bridge between the end of the Entschtanning season and the beginning of the Oschdret.
I encourage Urglaawer to take part in this rite. If you have the ability to bake, I'd also suggest baking the Datsch a day or two before as part of the ritual process.
Grimm, Jacob, James Stallybrass, trans. Teutonic Mythology (4 vols). New York: Dover Publications, 1966.
Weaver, William Woys. Dutch Treats: Heirloom Recipes from Farmhouse Kitchens. Pittsburgh: St. Lynn's Press, 2016.