Happy Æfterra Liþa

That’s “After Litha”. The Anglo-Saxons — who spoke Old English (although they probably didn’t call it that) — occupied and ruled Britain from about 449 to 1066. They used a solar/lunar calendar, which does not work well with the passage of the months of the modern calendar (although Bede mapped them that way). Two of their ‘months’ were doubled: Aere Yule/Aefter Yule fell on either side of their Yule festival, sometime around the end of December (or the winter solstice, or Christmas). Aere Litha/Aeftera Litha came six months later, close to the end of June/beginning of July. Since it is likely that the Angles and the Saxons and the Jutes (oh, my) started a month at the first crescent of the new moon, this year we might expect Aeftera Litha to begin on the 1st or 2d of July. Just in case you were wondering, next month, August, is Wéodmónaþ, or Weed Month. Since the seasons of England are much like those of the coastal NorthWest, all of my Portland reader can take comfort in knowing that others have had the same problems.

Anglo-Saxon history is a topic for another post, but I’ll just note that you can get an idea of the scale of their achievement by adding a thousand years to an A-S date, to map it into more modern history. So they arrived in England at the invite of Vortigern in 449 (->1449 almost fifty years before Columbus) and were destroyed in the Battle of Hastings in 1066 (->2066, over fifty years from now). This country has a way to go before we better their record.

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