Sunday, March 29, 2020

Der Ziegdaag


Because we are unable to gather in  in person, we hold this event as a videoconference on Wednesday, April 1, 2020 at 18:00 (6:00 PM), and we'll change the time to 6:00 PM so that remote workers might be off the clock by that time. We will be videoconferencing again.

In fact, the significance of -- and the lessons learned from -- Ziegdaag are exactly the sort of thing we need to work through as we go through this unprecedented time of change and uncertainty.

Videoconferencing will provide folks an opportunity to engage with the community during this while physically distancing ourselves. One Ziewer (Rob) will be running the ritual, and the other Ziewers (Larry, Victoria, Michelle) may moderate the videoconference (who speaks in what order, etc.).

The program for this event will be posted to this site prior to the event's start.

Please join us at 6:00 PM on Wednesday, April 1, 2020, by clicking this link:



Ziegdaag is an Urglaawe observance derived from the old Deitsch Moving Day, which typically fell on April 1. 

We are currently in an unprecedented transition time on a global level. Everyone is impacted, and some of the adjustments are difficult to make, and, as the COVID-19 virus continues to spread, things might continue to get more difficult to cope with.

Enter Ziegdaag. Ziegdaag was (and in some places still is) the “moving day” when tenant farmers and other business operators who rented their shops packed up to move to a new location. It was a very big deal as many families would be moving at the same time, leading to crowded roads, families helping each other, and a genera; fast pace to get things accomplished before sunset. The traditional date is April 1, so Ziegdaag for Urglaawe begins at sunset on March 31.

Der Ziegdaag is about change or transformation in all aspects: the need for change, the fear of change, the agents of change, those who think outside of the box, the trickster figures, the sagacious figures who solve problems, escape from traps, or change the world. This its about change in all forms, from the weather to the way in which one views oneself. This year, I would like to strongly advise participants to consider the changes that are emerging with the shutdowns, quarantines, and curfews. What will life be like on the other side of this crisis? Thinking about it actually makes me a little frightened, to be honest, but there are realities that we as individuals, as part of communities, as nations, and as inhabitants of Earth will have to go through as part of the recovery from this disruption in our daily lives.

Now is the time to use emerging information and to attempt to plan for the worst while striving for the best. All of this, of course, sounds great on paper; it’s not. For many of us, this time is going to really suck.It is important that we all prepare ourselves as much as possible for the trauma. It is normal and ok to feel scared, angry, lost, and depressed. Give yourself the time to recognize the harm that this disruption is doing to you as an individual. Some might find themselves having to grieve the life that they used to know. Go through the process; let it out. Then, over a few days, begin to remind yourself that what you are feeling is normal but that those emotions must begin to take a back seat to recovery efforts. The coping mechanisms will be different for different people, but, perhaps readers can share ideas about how they are coping with the crisis.

Otherwise, observance pairs nicely with April Fool’s Day and the unpredictable weather of this particular time of year. In terms of the Lewesraad, or the wheel of the year, this represents the time of transition from childhood into adolescence, when change is difficult and awkward, yet it is a part of life that we must go through.

Another adjustment is that this observance and ritual will need to be done via videoconference due to the realities of this time.


Unlike the Norse lore with Loki, Germanic lore does not have one particularly prominent agent of change. Instead, our folklore is riddled with innumerable characters, some of whom may be rooted in real people, others who have their origins in Heathen lore, and yet others who are entities whose lore we are still picking apart. This year, we will focus mostly on the Mountain Giant known as Riewezaahl, but we will look at a few others as well.


Schadde (sometimes appears as Schaade) is a trickster figure in a broken Deitsch story in which he manipulates Schlumm, a deity or giant associated with sleep, into blowing darts that put starcrossed lovers Sunna and/or Muun to sleep, thus allowing for Schadde to place them into the sky so they will never be able to consummate their love. He does this out of jealousy, yet this action sets the tides that allow for life on Earth to thrive. Sunna and Muun meet at eclipses, and they are able to use light and reflection to have children on the Earth in the form of dandelions. There appears to be a
reckoning that results in Schadde having to restrict his own movement, but this part is unclear. This story is, unfortunately, missing some other pieces, too, and we have not finished putting what we do have in order as a result.

However, Schadde appears in at least two other fragments of tales, both of which appear to involve cunning and/or setting things straight for the betterment of all involved parties.


Perhaps based in an actual human, the stories of Till are widely known in the German, Dutch, and Flemish cultures. Till isba true trickster in many ways. He thinks outside the box, engages periodically in buffoonery, and has a knack for overturning conventional wisdom. His name reflects the latter; “Eileschpiggel” translates to “owl mirror,” with the owl representing wisdom, and the mirror symbolizing the reflection or the opposite of that wisdom. In some sense, Till is an anti-hero, but, at this time of year, it is worthy to consider the wit and out-of-the-box thinking that are the inspirations for
this character.


NOTE: Do not address him directly as Riewezaahl, Riebzaahl, Rübezahl, or anything similar. The term of respect is Der Bariyeharr or the Mountain Lord, but he calls himself Rips when in human form. 

This Giant, whose nickname means “turnips count,” is known in the lore of both Germanic and Slavic cultures. During an interview with a Hexerei practitioner, the topic of the Frost Giants' Wonnetzeit attack came up, and the elderly women asked me if I knew much of Riewezaahl ("turnips count”; using this name because she used it to ask the question.). I had not heard of this being prior to this conversation, and she told me she remembered from her youth her mother talking about Riewezaahl. She said that her mother described Riewezaahl as a irritable Mountain Giant who has a strong ability to bring about unstable weather and would occasionally simply cause trouble because "that is what Giants do." Since that time, I have come across a few other references to him, including him causing squalls and sudden windstorms, earthquakes, and more.

Rips appears in many Silesian legends, and there is a strong historical Silesian presence among the Deitsch in the particular area in which I was doing interviews. Although some of the information I am coming across treats him like a god, but even more information indicates that he is not a pleasant spirit and has more attributes that would place him among the Giants, specifically a Mountain Giant.
The lore emanates mostly from the Germans and Slavs of Silesia and Bohemia. Grimm (Volume II, p. 480) refers to him as a wood-sprite and has some notes regarding him that may link him to Knecht Ruprecht, but there is not an ample description there.

There are tales in which Rips is a helpful trickster and a shapeshifter (the theme of transforming turnips into people or vice-versa comes up occasionally in Germanic lore). Folks may be interested in checking out this article:

Further readings into Silesian lore turn up a very complex Giant who is capable of meting out his own forms of justice. In the book, Silesian Folk Tales (The Book of Rübezahl), by James Lee, M.D., and James T. Carey, A.M., we see the following:

- He is a Mountain Giant with trickster and shapeshifter characteristics.

- His stories frequently involve people in motion, people moving, people in need of change, etc., and he captures the spirit of the Ziegdaag "moving day" features in many ways.

- He appears as many different types of beings, including men, women, etc.
- He aids people who try to improve themselves or to help others.

- He is not to be messed around with, or one will find oneself being beaten to death and hanging from a tree or being rooted firmly into the ground in the middle of a busy marketplace.

- His stories feature a lot of common tasks, including herb collecting, spinning, etc.

- Blue cornflower, already connected to some long life and other magical concepts in Deitsch lore, turns up in at least one of his myths.

- Dreams and dream states turn up in quite a few of these stories, which reminds me more than a bit of Schlumm.

- He plays a prank on an abusive husband that changes the domestic situation in the house (although I think the husband deserved more punishment than he got).

So, in the context of the Ziegdaag observance, focus on this trickster figure’s ability to bring about change through appearing as common folk but performing uncommon tasks. One may also want to consider that he can be capricious; he starts off disliking some people he encounters but a curious aspect to a that person may cause him to give that person a chance. If you irritate him, it is at your own risk.

Tuesday, March 17, 2020

Frouwasege un Grumbieredaag

Ebbes Griene, Ebbes Schwatze

Ebbes Weisse fer Ihre Katze.

Backt mer Datsch am Frouwesdaag,
Strae 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 Frouwe’s Day,*

Scatter the crumbs where She wishes.

From corner to corner along the garden’s edge,

So the plants grow on the land.

Frouwasege/Grumbierdaag altar with Datsch bread

Hallicher Grumbieredaag!
Happy Potato Day!

Hallicher Frouwasege! 
Happy Frouwa/Freya Sege/Blót!

Aspects of the goddess Frouwa (cognate of Freya) are believed to have been retained (accidentally) in the lore of the Church in the form of St. Gertrude of Nivelles and "Fraa Trudi," who shares some similar attributes of Frouwa. 

Ironically, it was Protestant and Plain sectarian churches that kept the lore most active upon arrival here in Pennsylvania. Today opens the planting season for hardy items, such as potatoes, cabbage, and spring onions. 

Urglaawe observes this day in the context of Frouwa rather than St. Gertrude. In either case, though, this is a distinctly Deitsch/Pennsylvania Dutch observance in form and function.

Frouwasege is also an observance of the sacredness of cats. Give your cats treats (tradition is something white in color, but any will do) and to leave some for Frouwa's cats and strays. Indeed, the barn cat plays a significant role in the success of the farm by controlling the population of the vermin that can destroy or consume the crops.

We also have rituals associated with specific land spirits today. The ritual program is available here on

If you plant today, be sure to honor the soil before using the shovel. Next year, we will put this rite into the program in a more pronounced way.

Heele zu der Frouwa!

* In the original poem by Amanda Baer Stoudt, the spelling of some words was different. For the Urglaawe context, we have replaced references to Trudisdaag and St. Gertrude with references to Frouwa.

Sunday, March 15, 2020

Grumbieredaag un Frouwasege 2020

The program for Grumbieredaag un Frouwasege has been posted!


This is the traditional Deitsch holiday of St. Gertrude's Day, known also by the name we use in Urglaawe of Grumbieredaag (Potato Day), which is the day we will honor the Frouwa. This is one tradition that the Christians have inadvertently kept alive, and we benefit from it. The Christian expression has been edited to reflect the needs of the Urglaawe tradition and to return aspects this observance to their older roots.

Since the Deitsch population overwhelmingly identifies as Protestant or Anabaptist, the survival of this Catholic observance within the wider culture is interesting in its own right, even if it had been diminishing over time. Even many Christians acknowledge the heathen roots of the observance. While there are other connections that come up (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.

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. There are rituals to feed the Heinzelmenner or other Kowwold (kobolds) and to bring fertility to the garden. 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.

Der Waldmops and some of the spirit entities were carried in the popular lore. Der Waldmops is an interesting character. He is described as a Zwarich (Dwarf) by many, and, indeed, the word Mops does mean Dwarf in Deitsch, so Waldmops would be the “Woods Dwarf.” However, others describe him as an Erdgeischt (Gnome), and still others see him as a Dwarf with Green Man characteristics. I fall into this last camp. As the Lord of Beasts, he awakens the animal kingdom from its winter slumber. He stirs the trees of the forest to shoot forth their greens, and he and his people cultivate the fertility of the land. We are most definitely in a symbiotic relationship with our land spirits, and they should be honored often.


Due to the Coronavirus, we are encouraging folks who can to do this ritual at home in their own gardens. However, I will be doing this ritual for a small group in Bristol with safety precautions in place. The Datsch that I bake will not be consumed by the participants; only commercially-baked potato rolls will be present, and we will take food-handling precautions with those. The libation (will only be non-alcoholic for this ritual) will not be consumed directly from the stein. Everyone may bring their own vessel or use a cup from here.

PLEASE: If anyone has a cough, fever, or other signs of any sickness, we ask you to tend to your health needs so you are feeling fit for when the pandemic's shutdown is over.

Please note: THERE IS NO MEAL AT THIS RITUAL. This is our simplest ritual (outside of the baking of the Datsch), and most people would be doing this in their own gardens. The recipes for the Antler Cookies and the Datsch have been posted to the Urglaawe Culinary Guild on Facebook. If you are not a member of it, please feel free to submit to join.  :)

IF YOU CANNOT BAKE A DATSCH OR ANTLER COOKIES THIS YEAR, feel free to replace them with potato bread and sugar cookies - for this year. The Datsch is an important devotional aspect of this observance and its baking should be part of the process in the future. The same applies, with less intensity, to the Antler Cookies.

We encourage folks to get hold of a copy of William Woys Weaver's Dutch Treats, wherein both of these recipes appear.