murder the wren days / letters

Castle / 16 November to 15 December

Dear Jillison,

When I was little, still in the nowhere farmhouse, I used to press my palms of my hands against my closed eyes as hard as I could. 

I pressed and pressed until the discolored splotches and fractals showed up on the inside of my eyelids. 

I asked my parents if that’s what dreaming was.  Now I know the phenomena is called “prisoner’s cinema.”

Somehow I’m not surprised. 

The myth most commonly told to explain the festival is as follows; God wished to know who was the king of all birds so he set a challenge. The bird who flew highest and furthest would win. 

The birds all began together but they dropped out one by one until none were left but the great eagle. The eagle eventually grew tired and began to drop lower in the sky. 

At this point, the treacherous wren emerged from beneath the eagle’s wing to soar higher and further than all the others.

Prime / 16 March to 14 April

Dear Jillison,

You told me a few times, storms provide anonymity.  Provide distraction. 

I never liked it when you would talk like that.

It was the day to commemorate the first killing of the winter king by the orphan children.  Capture’s Day. Hollow Born Day.  First Martyr’s Day.

We wore scars around our necks and short robes and women’s clothes, just trying to keep the wind from breaking us.


Mutatis mutandis is a Medieval Latin phrase meaning “the necessary changes having been made” or “once the necessary changes have been made.

It is used in many countries to acknowledge that a comparison being made requires certain obvious alterations, which are left unstated.

The tradition may also have been influenced by Scandinavian settlers during the Viking invasions of the 8th to 10th century.

Various associated legends exist, such as a wren being responsible for betraying soldiers who fought the Viking invaders by beating its wings on their shields, in the late 1st and early 2nd millennia, and for betraying the Christian martyr Saint Stephen, after whom the day is named.

This mythological association with treachery is a possible reason the bird was hunted by wrenboys on St. Stephen’s Day, or why a pagan sacrificial tradition was continued into Christian times.

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Google photo

You are commenting using your Google account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s