Autumn Time Stories
August The Rotten Month
Mätäkuu the rotten month takes place between July and August, more precisely between 23 of July to 23rd of August and there are all kinds of beliefs and superstitions connected to this time period.
This time period is considered to be the hottest part of the summer. In Finland, Mätäkuu started with the ladies week (Naisten viikko). This was a week when each day was a woman´s name day.
18.7- Fredrika, Riikka.
19.7- Saara, Sara, Sari, Sarita, Salli, ja Salla.
20.7- Maarit, Maaret, Marketta, Margareeta, Reetta, ja Reeta.
21.7- Hanna, Hannele, Hanne, Johanna, Jenni, Jenna, Jonna, ja Joanna.
22.7- Matleena, Mataleena, Magdaleena, Leena, Leeni, Lenita.
23.7- Olga, Oili.
24.7- Kristiina, Krista, Kirsi, Kirsi, Kiia, Tiina, ja Tinja.
Mätäkuu existed in Finnish calendars all the way till 1996 when it was left out (I don´t know why..perhaps people found it confusing or old fashioned).
A rotten month can be found in other Scandinavian countries as well. The origins of it come from ancient Mesopotamia, where it was known as the hottest time of the year and they were called ”dog days”. The name came from the star constellation of Sirius, which was shining brightly this time. In ancient Egypt, Rotten Month was also important because that is when the Nile was flooding.
In most countries, people speak about dog days, so why do Finns speak about the Rotten month. Finnish name comes from the original Swedish name ”rötmånad” and that most likely originates from anglo-Saxon Rodendage or Rodenmonad in German. Which refers to burnt clearing. When people were turning forestry areas into fields so they could farm they burnt the forest. This mixed with the Danish word ”rådden” which means rotten. It is a fact that food can get rotten more easily when it´s hot.
Mätäkuu was very hot, and it was not seen as a good time to start new projects. There was no making butter or timbering. People believed that animals that were caught during this time might cause food poisoning. All kinds of surgical operations were forbidden. Trees that were chopped would decay. People also believed that this was the time when frogs and snakes would come and tease people and there were more chances to catch diseases. Relationships that started this time would end up badly. There was a higher risk for miscarriages.
In some cases, it was possible to turn the bad luck of Mätäkuu against itself. For example. If a person was just pretending to harvest some unwanted plants, then by Kekri these plants were gone or when you took care of the garden in Mätäkuu, it would flourish in the summer.
People used reversed psychology against these beliefs. If you would break up with somebody in Mätäkuu, it was final. Nails would grow faster, hair would grow slower. If a person wanted to keep their hair short, that is when they should cut it.
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