Some call it Hot Night!
A traditional celebration usually held on the night of February 14th, although the date varies in some villages.
EMBERS NIGHT TRADITIONS
Young men fill pots with coal and hide until women out for a night-time stroll come past, at which point the men leap out and sprinkle coal in front of them. There's a popular belief that if a woman steps on an ember, she'll fall in love with whoever sprinkled it in front of her.
Another tradition is using coals to tell fortunes. To begin, burning hot embers are dropped into a jug of milk. Once they're removed, the meaning of the pattern left on each ember by the curdled milk is interpreted.
Embers Night is a popular time for weddings. The bride and groom join hands (sometimes a cord, scarf or shawl is also tied around their hands) and walk across hot coals to prove that they have sincere feelings and serious intentions.
SYMBOLIC FEATURES OF EMBERS NIGHT
It is customary to extinguish all fires for Embers Night. Candles and torches are left unlit, and the only source of light are pots and bowls of glowing embers placed next to the houses.
LEGENDS ASSOCIATED WITH EMBERS NIGHT
Much like many popular festivities, Embers Night is associated with numerous romantic—and not so romantic—legends; they vary hugely in their content and key characters from one region to another. Humans take a leading role in some legends, while gods do in others.
But amongst all these legends, there is one that crops up in various forms no matter where you journey to: the most famous Embers Night story of them all.
GLOOM AND THE COALS
Gloom, who was renowned by gods and mortals alike for his odious character, found himself in the habit of visiting the bedchambers of the Sleeping Goddesses. He would first visit with Kallente, followed by Holza on the next night, before finally venturing to disturb Amate, the Sun Maiden. The goddess was so aggrieved by this that she complained to her sister, and the pair decided to teach the insolent Gloom a lesson.
During one of the following evenings, Gloom snuck into Velent's halls. He deftly, and unashamedly, removed his garments before scurrying under the goddess's covers. Unbeknownst to the sly scoundrel, Amate, who shrewdly hid amongst the dark halls, sneaked over. Slinking into the room - a basin of burning hot coals in hand - she skillfully emptied the scorching contents into his breeches. That was when he got his comeuppance: Velent stretched, as if just waking up, causing Gloom to leap out of bed at high speed. He heaved his pants up to his ears, which was swiftly followed by a vile screech. Within seconds, he was streaking across the night sky, smoke billowing from his bottom half.
Since then, people have often glanced up at the Dark Hall, sprinkled with Isenbrust, and, indeed, they often catch sight of a bright streak of fire cutting across the silky blackness. One person will mutter, "There's trouble brewing." But another will laugh it off with, "Ah, that's just old Gloom rushing home with a flaming backside!"
ROYMUND, ILSE AND THE FIRE
Finally, silence falls over the seated figures. The room is so still that the only sound echoing around the room came from the crackling and spluttering coals in the long, deep brazier running from the entrance to the far wall.
Sigurda straightens her grey hair and casts an eye over the hushed feast.
"A legend has been handed down to us since the days of yore: the tale of a certain couple. They weren't Firstborns or Holurs; they were people, pure and simple. The man was called Roymund. And the woman, Ilse. The gods willed it that they become man and wife."
The old woman falls briefly silent and fingers the amulets lying on her knees. While she is silent, the red-bearded Norte brings more coals. He pours a generous load into the brazier, and red tongues of flame flicker upwards once more from its slumbering depths.
" It would be a lie to say they were happy. And yet to say they were unhappy also does not paint the full picture. The gods command us to have children and weave our own fates—and so be it. But no one can command us to fall in love. Indeed, Roymund and Ilse lived for many moons and yet love never favored them. 'By Gloom I've had enough of that shrill bitch!' Roymund would curse to his friends in the tavern. 'She complains all the time, says I drink too much. I feel there's no escape from her criticisms —except drinking...'
Ilse didn't hold back either, sharing her lament with her sister: 'What a fine honor the gods have bestowed on me, seeing that disgruntled face every day... Either the broth's too oily, the bed's too hard, and goodness knows what else.'
They would argue often, cursing each other in the heat of the moment, or sometimes even wishing death on each other. On occasion, whilst falling asleep, Ilse would think: 'Oh, if only Holza would snip his thread clean in two.' AndRoymund would sometimes think the same."
It is getting even hotter in Tynge; the flame flares up in the brazier. Sweat runs down the faces of the assembled crowd. They listen, transfixed, to a story they have all heard many times; no one raises a goblet or tankard to their lips.
"Since time immemorial it has been common knowledge that minor discord sows the seeds of genuine disaster!" The old woman's voice, so calm and quiet, suddenly grows stronger, as if someone else is speaking for her.
"The strife smoldered like an ember until it finally caught fire. Once, when neither Ilse norRoymund was at home, flames seized hold of their hut. It blazed up immediately—Svefnii had definitely shaken out his pipe. The whole village came running... Ilse was among them. And so was Roymund. They both stood in front of the burning hut, blinded by the flames and unable to see each other in the crowd. Their home was blazing, and so was something suddenly blazing up inside them both. For the first time in all those long years, they cursed themselves rather than each other, and, without any idea that the other was doing the same, they both rushed into the burning hut to save what was suddenly so precious to them."
The story is drawing to a close and, sensing this, the crowd squeezes closer to the brazier, freeing up a passage. Soon everyone has moved to the sides, leaving only Ranghar the carpenter and his young bride at the far end of the brazier. The red-bearded Norte brings the young couple the old woman's shawl; they wrap it around their linked hands and step towards the flames.
The hunched, grey-haired Sigurda gradually gets to her feet and also moves towards the flames, extending her trembling palms.
"You both already know what happened next. Holza protected them and the pair survived. The house burnt down, but that was no great tragedy: they soon built a new one—large, comfortable, better than their old one. That spring, Ilse gave birth to a child, and they began living in a completely new way from then on... All that remained from that fateful day were the scars. But that's no bad thing: scars only make love stronger. Now go."
And with that she nods towards the flames.