Well, even the Twelve Days of “Christmas” must end at some point, and they do on January 6th. In the Alps, we call that the Perchtlnacht, and in many towns and villages men dress up as Perchten and scare away the spirits of the old year, so we can welcome the new one. Click on this link to watch footage from one of the nicest ones I’ve been to.
As to Mother Percht herself, she is most probably the figure that represents the dark aspect of the Goddess, Borbeth, the psychopompos, the one who accompanies the souls of the departed into the underworld. There, the souls can take a rest until they are born into their next cycle on the spiral towards the light.
Borbeth gave name to several towns in the heart of Europe, most prominently Worms in Germany, once called Borbetomagnus, where she is depicted with her sisters in the Three Women Stone, a relief on a side altar of the Worms Cathedral.
But back to the Alps, where this following lore is from:
In the villages, the farmers always cover the dining room table with fresh linen in the Perchtlnacht and put a bowl of sweet milk with several spoons on it. At night, when everyone is sleeping, the Perchtl comes with her children, sit down at the table, and everyone splurges on a few drops of that sweet milk.
There is one thing, though, that the Perchtl requests: nobody shall observe her.
But once there was a meddlesome farmhand who, just before the clock struck twelve midnight, crawled into the then cold tile stove and stared through the open stove door into the room and at the table. All of the sudden, an old crone with a wrinkly face and snow white hair slowly entered the room. A great number of small children followed her.
Now the farmhand regretted his curiosity, but it was too late. The Perchtl had already noticed the man and said to one of the children: ‘Close the stove door, please.’
From then on, the farmhand was blind.
So, when I suggest today to put some milk (and, according to other versions of the myth, also some bread) on your table, to have something for the Goddess when she visits – and therefore blesses! – your home, please don’t look.