Blōt-mōnaþ

Blōt-mōnaþ, m.n: ‘sacrifice-month’, period in the pre-Christian Anglo-Saxon year roughly coincident with November.

Further information from Kazutomo Karasawa’s The Old English Metrical Calendar (Menologium) (Cambridge, 2015). Karasawa also references:

  • David Wilson, Anglo-Saxon Paganism (London, 1992), p. 36
  • William A. Chaney, The Cult of Kingship in Anglo-Saxon England: The Transition from Paganism to Christianity (Manchester, 1970), pp. 57 and 239

                            And ϸæs ofstum bringð

embe feower niht,   folce genihtsum,

Blotmonað on tun,   beornum to wiste,

Nouembris   niða bearnum

eadignesse,   swa nan oðer na deð

monað maran   miltse drihtnes.

—The Old English Metrical Calendar (Menologium), lines 193b-98

And then after four nights, Blotmonað, November, abundant for the nation, speedily brings to town, as sustenance for the people, as bounty for the children of men, as no other month does more through the mercy of the Lord. (trans. by K. Karasawa)

According to Bede’s De temporum ratione, Blotmonað (literally ‘sacrifice month’) gets its name because it was during this month that pre-Christian Anglo-Saxons ‘offered to their gods cattle which were to be slaughtered’. Karasawa observes, ‘Sacrifices taking place in this month are said to have been made not only for religious purposes but also for more practical reasons’ (p. 121). David Wilson describes the time as ‘the annual autumnal slaughter of quantities of livestock to provide food for the people during the winter’, and William Chaney posits that certain quantities of cattle would not be able to be maintained over the winter.

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  1. Pingback: Old English months | Old English Wordhord

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