Wednesday, February 22, 2017

Biakendai/Biikebrennen: Let It Burn

For the blog hop earlier this month I discussed the February 21st Biikebrennen celebration in North Frisia and South Jutland (Denmark) (click here to read more about it). This is a bonfire ritual specific to this region, and since my paternal great-grandparents were from Amrum (a North Frisian island) and South Jutland respectively, I wanted to celebrate it with my family for the first time this year.

Mind you it's not possible for us to have a bonfire at all, let alone one as vast as those on the islands, so we crafted our own version to honor the day...
Njörd statue
To preface it I want to mention a cool synchronicity that occurred in conjunction with yesterday's event. Over a month ago I had ordered a Njörd statue from a British Etsy shop (SJChilton). I knew it would likely take about two weeks to arrive to me after it shipped, but three weeks later I was starting to worry that it was lost. I messaged the shop owner yesterday morning to ask if she had any specific shipping information, and she kindly suggested I give it another couple of weeks to arrive. A few hours later I went out to the mailbox and there was one item inside: a small box from England. Interestingly, it had in fact been delivered to the wrong house, and the person had opened it up. Upon realizing that it was not intended for them, they put it back in the box, wrote an apologetic note, and hand-delivered it to our box. Needless to say, I was both happy and relieved. And the statue is pretty wonderful!

I have always connected Njörd with my dad's side of the family, primarily island and sea people from Northern Germany and coastal Denmark. So I found it particularly lovely that he showed up on February 21st, just in time for Biikebrennen!
My Njörd altar space
In Europe, islanders craft cloth-and-grass effigies called "Peter" which are thrown into the large fires, symbolic of the banishing of bad spirits and outdated energies. After dinner we all made paper "Peter" dolls out of a brown bag. The kids decorated their dolls however they liked, and then we wrote down any behaviors, thoughts, or feelings that we wanted to be rid of in our lives. Lourdes helped Gabriel with his. She said, "Gabe, what do you not want any more of?" He paused thoughtfully for a moment and said, "Your pickiness!" We all laughed. I told her that we could translate that to "sibling arguments."
Isabella decided to make her doll a girl - Petra - and added quite a bit of detail!
Lourdes wanted her Peter to wear a tuxedo:
Mine was a faceless vessel of intention:
When we were all ready, we went out to the back porch with a candle to burn our Peters.

It was a beautiful experience that everyone enjoyed, and we look forward to repeating it again next year!


  1. What a wonderful ritual to share with your children. Such deep teaching, the offering up for transformation what is not serving us rather than rejecting it outright. And as I said on IG your statue has such a wonderful energy about him, wise and playful both.

    1. <3 It is amazing the depth of symbolism possible in such relatively simple acts! There is something very soothing and powerful in the act of burning in this way. Yeah, I love the character evident in the Njörd sculpture!! I love how rustic and yet vibrant he is :)

  2. Que interesante Olivia gracias por compartir!Yo pienso que tus ancestros son gente descendiente de los Atlantes,el color de tus ojos y el de tu cabello son una combinación particular. Y la pequeña escultura tiene mucho carácter.Saludos :)

    1. Y gracias por leer, Fatima!! : ) Interesante tu idea, me fascina y nunca lo había pensado! Gracias y saludos!

  3. I imagine your great-grandparents smiling when they watch you and you children keeping their beloved tradition. It is indeed a powerful way of releasing. It goes very well with my post of today. I might try it for myself when the moon is dark
    P.S Love the statue!!

    1. Thanks, Ellen! I do feel like they were watching over us during our little celebration and it felt really nice. I hope you do try it, and let me know how it goes! Hugs!