ABOUT GRUMBIEREDAAG (POTATO DAY)
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.
ABOUT THE ACTUAL 2020 OBSERVANCE
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.