"On Christmas morning in Scandinavia every gable, gateway, or barn-door, is decorated with a sheaf of grain fixed on the top of a tall pole, wherefrom it is intended that the birds should make their Christmas dinner"
Quote from 1902 book "Christmas: Its Origin and Associations", by William Francis Dawson
"In pre-Christian times, Slavs believed that souls of their dead entered birds and through birds entered heaven, Iriy. So feeding birds with grain during winter was basically a form of sacrificing grain to the ancestors."
Quote from my post "Bird wedding"
Are these customs linked?
This is the page about a strange creature from Serbian folklore called "Nav".
The page is from the beautiful illustrated children's book on Serbian mythology called "Ale i Bauci" by Rastko Ćirić.
This is very interesting. Slavic word Nav denote the souls of the dead in Slavic mythology. The singular form (Nav or Nawia) is also used as a name for the "otherworld".
In Slavic mythology, souls of the dead entered birds who brought them to irij, paradise. Birds then brought the souls back when they were ready to be reborn. It is interesting that only the souls of unbaptised (still pagan) children become "nav" 🙂
What is even more interesting is that in Irish the word for saint is "naomh" which is pronounced like "n(i)ev" and which comes from Old Irish noíb (noeb) meaning sacred, holy.
And that in Irish the word for heaven (where saints (naomh) go) is "neamh" which is pronounced like "nav" 🙂and which comes from PIE "*nébʰos." meaning sky which is in Slavic "nebo" 🙂
So in Slavic languages the dead, (navi) go to underworld, old pagan heaven probably, (nav) and in Irish language saints (niev) go to haven (nav)...