1st February: Cannle Neet, or, Fleet Neet
Having its equivalent in both the Christian and pre-Christian calendar in the UK, Cannle Neet is an evening celebration marking the arrival, after the long winter, of noticeably longer daylight time. Halfway between the winter and spring equinoxes, this is a point in the year that was traditionally much welcomed and celebrated, but seems to have largely been lost to the general populace of Yorkshire. The “cannel” is Yorkshire dialect for candle, and “fleet” for flame.
Suggested activites: Upon the onset of darkness candles are lit around the home (or a “fleet” log, similar to the Yule equivalent) and an evening meal of lamb and/or winter vegetables is prepared for family and friends. Singular gifts may also be given, especially if having some relevance to coming of light, warmth and spring.
17th-23rd February: Jolablot
The Vikings celebrated a number of “Blot” or festival days throughout the year, usually based upon a particular turn in the seasons. Jolablot (pron. yola-bloat) was the spring festival, associated with the start of raiding season, and is topically relevant as the date with which the Jorvik Viking Festival is held to coincide.
Suggested activities: Either go and visit the Viking festival itself, or hold your own scaled-down version replete with sword-fights, story-telling, banquets and traditional dress!
May: The Tour of Yorkshire
Yorkshire’s premier cycling race, held annually.
2nd Tuesday July: The Great Yorkshire Show
The largest agricultural show in England.
1st August: Yorkshire Day
Yorkshire Day took a while to gain any real currency, but has now become a significant part of the year’s passing. A celebration of all things Yorkshire, there are events up and down the country that may be attended. However, the true and more serious purpose of Yorkshire Day is to repudiate the boundary act that came into play in 1974 and to re-establish the Ridings as an extant and healthy socio-political entity.
Suggested activities: Join in whatever local festivals you can find, or create and hold your own. Flying the Yorkshire flag is a must.
1st November: Origin Day
On the first of November, 866, the English rulers of York were overwhelmed in battle and forced to surrender the city to the sons of Viking legend, Ragnar Lodbrok, and the Danish hordes they commanded. Jorvik then passed into Danish hands, creating the Kingdom that is the forebear of modern day Yorkshire, and the independent political entity to which Yorkshire owes its socio-cultural origins.
Suggested activities: Feasting and drinking!
5th November: Plot Neet
Otherwise known as bonfire night to those who are not from the Ridings three, this celebration far pre-dates the events surrounding that famous Yorkie, Guy Fawkes, and his attempts to blow up parliament. Although waning in popularity over the past thirty years or so, it is nonetheless a popular fixture in the year. Many believe that the parkin pig, which is exclusively eaten in Yorkshire at this time, hearkens back to antiquity when there seems to have been some symbolic connection between pigs and the afterlife, possibly representative of the association between death and the increasingly longer nights at this time of year. Like Cannle Neet, another festival that lies halfway between two astronomical markers.
Suggested activities: Get some folks around, burn a plot of wood and chop down on some tasty parkin pigs. Fireworks are optional.
21st (25th) December: Yule
Synonymous with Christmas and seemingly identical in every respect, Yule’s pre-Christian origins are responsible for the more hedonistic element to the season. The Spirit of Yule was a forest spirit, frequently portrayed with a long hoary beard, green robes and a tankard of ale in each hand. An honest alternative to the modern commercialism of Christmas.
Suggested activities: Lighting a Yule log, feasting and frivoloties.