Winter Nights celebrates the coming of winter, when the weather starts to turn cold and the frost starts to form. The days grow shorter and less friendly to us. The nights grow longer and more treacherous. The Furious Host, led by Odin himself, begins to ride, hunting anything it finds out of doors. All manner of ill-willing wights grow more powerful in the dark and wild places. Vargr come out of the woods in search of food. Trolls, smelling the blood of the culled herd, howl and terrify children in the dead of night, ready to snatch one away if given the chance.
All is not dark and grim, however, for now is the time when families gather together to celebrate the end of their laborings throughout the year and to rejoice in all that they have accomplished. The soil begins to rest and recover for next year’s crops, tucked under a blanket of white. There is fresh meat, fresh baked bread, and there is plenty of ale to drink. Now is a time to celebrate with kith and kin.
In ancient times strangers were not welcome at Winter Nights celebrations. It is a time to spend with those closest to us and those upon whom we know we can rely in the dead of winter. It is a time to reaffirm our bonds of troth and friendship. It is a time to feast and make merry. It is a time to make offerings to the gods for a mild winter. It is a time to honor the álfar and thank them for their aid during the growing months and during the harvest.