Winter Nights is a heathen holiday most commonly observed by Asatruars. It falls sometime between the middle and end of October. The date varies among those that observe this holiday, although it is most commonly celebrated on the 31st of October. Others celebrate it from the 13th to the 15th of October.
Personally, I will be celebrating a full week of Winter Nights from the 9th of October to the 15th of October. I have three reasons for this. The first is to honor Leif Eriksson's Day on the ninth, which I believe to be one of my most important ancestors. Two, so that I can honor a different female deity each day of Winter Nights. And three, so that I can hail my ancestors during the New Moon (a symbol of death and rebirth) which occurs on the 15th of October. This time frame seems like a very good time in which to observe Winter Nights, however this is my own personally preference.
This holiday is similar to the Celtic Samhain, because of the time frame in which it falls and the nature of the holiday itself. Winter Nights is when winter is to begin. It is seen as a time of death as it is the ending of summer. In traditional times all the animals that would not survive the winter were gathered, slaughtered, smoked and made into sausage. There was then a great feast and family and friends would assemble and hail their ancestors.
Because this time is so laden with death the veil between the realms we inhabit becomes thinner. Our ancestors long passed can communicate and share with us, and we can again communicate with them. Specifically the Disir, our female ancestors and feminine spirits, are to be honored. Women where traditionally held in high regard at this time. Of course all the ancestors are to be hailed but the givers of life, the mothers, are especially to be praised.
This is done be reciting poetry and song in honor of our ancestors, both genetic and cultural. You can gather with friends and family and tell stories of family members long since passed. A common way to celebrate is to fill a drinking horn with mead and pass it among those gathered and recite a tale of your ancestors after each drink. I wish you all feasting and merriment during this glorious time!
* http://odinsvolk.ca/O.V.A.%20-%20SACRED%20CALENDER.htm#Winter Nights
* Asatru ? Winter Nights and the Disir - http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=KL2Xcv8IEek
* My brain