The temples of the gods were attended by priests who were responsible essentially for the reading of omens and other types of divination, for administering the propitiation of the gods, and for guarding the sacred groves and objects. Their duties were frequently performed by the political leader of a particular tribe. Festivals and religious ceremonies were held throughout the year, usually for celebration of the harvest or of victory in battle. At festivals, animal (or sometimes human) sacrifices and libations were offered to the gods, and the dead were commemorated. In Germanic religion the dead were believed to retain their faculties and to affect the fate of the living. Burial places were sacred, and sacrifices were made at them.
The Columbia Electronic Encyclopedia, 6th ed. Copyright © 2012, Columbia University Press. All rights reserved.