November Stories, Brumar, the Frosty Month

Let’s celebrate with stories this month of November, nicknamed Brumar in Romanian, the Frosty Month. I think it’s often overlooked in our anticipation of Saint Nicholas and the rush for evergreen trees and towards Christmas, the hope of another New Year.

There are a few stories I’d like to share with you this November.

Why is November called Brumar?

Believe me when I say that the etymology of Romanian word brumar comes from Vulgar Latin brumarius and Latin bruma, meaning winter, mist.

In Romanian folklore November was known as Brumar (Frosty) or Promorar – by the ice crystals that magically form on the ground or the branches during the night – morning surprise. But November is also nicknamed Vinar (the Vino-one), as is is now that the sweet grape juice ferments and becomes wine. Wine, this intoxicating juice that was ritually consumed as far back as Dacian times in honor of Thracian god Dionysus (so much the Dacians loved their “pure wine” that their Great Priest and later King Deceneu had to teach them how to be good Christians and stray away from the cult of wine and Dyonisos’ sacred grapes).

It is said that if November is windy, we’ll enjoy a mild winter, but if it is rainy, then the winter will be a heavy one.

Waiting for Snow Image courtesy Unsplash

November 1st, All Saints’ Day

All the Saints of the church, known or unknown, are celebrated on November 1st. Maybe this is why November 1st is a good day to make healing potions.

Saints Cosmas and Damian are also observed on this day. They embraced Christianity and practiced medicine and surgery without a fee, thus being known as anargyroi (from Greek), ‘the silver-less’.

All these considered, here is a good chant to use when preparing a potion made from healing plants picked in Summer (like during the Midsummer Night):

“Bless! Bless! Cosmas, Damian!
Wherever do you go, through woods you flow,
All the wells, all the springs,
Of mud and of slime
To clean, to clear,
Make the sickness disappear!”

Timpul sacru: sărbătorile de altădată” by Marcel Lutic
(translated and adapted by Patricia Furstenberg)

The Feats of Archangels Michael and Gabriel, November 8th through 10th

I want to mention these two big archangels of Christianity because there’s a mythical story concerning Saint Michael and it comes from Bucovina (one of the historical regions of Romania, and whose tales I told in my latest book, Dreamland).

In some parts of Romania these three days are known as the Archangel’s Summer, because they are usually blessed with mild weather.

Saint Michael, Who Gifted us the Foot Arch

It is said that between God’s angels and archangels only one rebelled against Him, Lucifer. Tired of listening to the words of the Creator, he thought he could rise higher.

It didn’t work. And God chased Lucifer out of Heaven. Yet as he fell, the naughty one grabbed the archangel’s cloak. And took it with. Stole it!

That’s couldn’t be!

So God asked Saint Michael to go get it, and bring it back to Heaven.

Saint Michael did. And he even pretended to befriend the devil, to gain access to the cloak. This became possible only when they both went to the lake to swim. Chilly as it was, the devil felt hot so he jumped in, swimming to its dark, murky depths.

That’s when God quickly froze the lake, and Saint Michael grabbed the cloak, flying bck to Heaven.

How the rage erupted in the devil’s heart! So much, and with such force, that it sent him flying after Saint Michael. Reaching for the saint’s cloak. He had to have it!

Saint Michael snatched it. Saved it.

The devil’s claws grabbed empty air, then closed around the saint’s foot. Sharp, curved nails dug in the flesh. The heat seared the skin, cut in, nearly chopping the bone. But God was reaching down after Saint Michael, helping him.

Only a small chunk of flesh came off.
The cloak was saved. The saint was safe.
The devil fell to his abyss.

And this is why the human foot has an arch, where a piece was torn from Saint Michael’s foot while he fulfilled the word of God.

Meaningful knowledge, Saint Michael and Saint Gabriel

The two saints are considered the protectors of the church. This is why their portraits will appear on the doors of the altar of Greek Orthodox churches: Saint Michel’s on the northern door, and Saint Gabriel’s on the southern one.

In Hebrew, Saint Michael’s name means “the one who is like God”, and is depicted as a soldier, holding a sword of fire. Saint Gabriel’s name means “God is my strength” and he is the messenger of good news, caring a white lily (the white and pure lily represent Virgin Mary, mother of Jesus. The three petals represent the Holy Trinity: Father, Son, and Holy Spirit).

November has many meaningful, beautiful celebrations in the Christian world. On the night of the Presentation of the Blessed Virgin Mary it is believed that a blue flame will burn above the grown wherever there’s a buried treasure, that the gates to Heaven open, and that maidens can spot the face of their future husband if they glance in a fountain, by the light of white candle.

Other November celebrations are for protection against thieves, wolves, and for the good fortune of the household.

November ends with the feast of Saint Andrew, on the 30th of November, the night when the Heaven gates open for the dead, the gates between the two world too, when animals speak, magic can be performed, and strigoii, the vampires, stroll about the village – but this is a tale for another time (the 30th of November).

If you’re up to it…

For folktales, myths and historical fiction in exactly 100 words do have a look at my latest book, Dreamland:

Dreamland-Patricia Furstenberg-stories myths folktales

8 Replies to “November Stories, Brumar, the Frosty Month”

  1. Awesome, dear Patricia. Very interesting post. Enjoyed reading it. ♥️♥️♥️

  2. Brumar aka the Frosty Month was once upon a time. It’s the first day of November and it’s sunny and beautiful. They forecast 24 degrees Celsius for tomorrow. Kind of unnatural, but I’m enjoying every minute of it. I know it won’t last. 🙂

    1. Oh, my, Sweetie!
      It must be heaven, and with all those colorful autumn trees, to have the warm weather to go for walks.
      Yes, while it lasts! 🙂

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