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Saxons

A group of Germanic tribes who were one of the principal settlers of England after the Romans left. Together with another group of tribes, the Angles, they formed the Anglo-Saxon culture which has dominated England and America. Despite other influences such as the Vikings and the Normans, the Anglo-Saxon legacy is the strongest if for no other reason than it gave us the English Language (Anglo Saxon = Old English). Note that Kent, the Isle of Wight and part of Hampshire were settled by a totally different group - the Jutes.

The obvious legacy of the Saxons is in place names - Sussex (South Saxons), Essex (East), Middlesex (Middle) and Wessex (West).

Saxons were Pagan and believed in the Germanic Gods and resisted Christianity for a long time. When Christianity did come, it appears as an overlay to the natural way of things which had existed before. The upper classes were far more likely to embrace Christianity than the lower classes and pagan ritual would have continued unabated.

The names for 4 of the days of the week (Tuesday, Wednesday, Thursday and Friday) come directly from the Saxons Gods Tiw, Woden, Thor and Freyja.

The month of November was called Bloodmonth (Blotmonath) and was a time for slaughter of cattle. The Saxons enjoyed drinking feasts with entertainment. They worshipped natural Gods and held female deities in higher reverence than male. The earliest written accounts of Anglo-Saxon beliefs is from Christian Monks who may well have played down any Pagan aspects. Important deities were Nerthus (Earth Mother, Fertility, Harvest Queen), Freya (Love, Childbirth) and Eostre (Spring, Dawn, Beginnings). The Saxon midwinter Yule feast would have featured Boar with a Boar's Head centrepiece. Festivals were celebrated at important times of the year - Solstices and Equinoxes being particularly important. Midwinter was Geola (Yule) and was a season of feasting from the slaughter of animals in November through to the spring, peaking at the solstice with a celebration of Modranect (Mother's Night). In spring a festival was held in honour of Eostre and in September for Nerthus.