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Solitary Witchcraft - Holidays : Yule

Updated on December 21, 2016

Tis the Season...

The history of Yule (pronounced You-elle) is wide and varied. Much of it depends on what part of the world you are from as well as what traditions you grew up in. The traditions of Yule, Christmas, Kwansaa, Boxing Day and etcetera have managed to overlap each other in many ways over the years. This article will look at some of the pagan traditions of Yule as well as a few fun things you can do to celebrate your own personal traditions.

History

Yule is the second holiday in the pagan calendar. It takes place on the shortest day of the year also known as the Winter Solstice. The actual date of this event fluctuates from year to year but it usually occurs around December 20th through the 22nd. This is both the shortest day of the year as well as the longest night of the year. For pagans this is the time to celebrate the rebirth of the Oak King, the Sun King or the Giver of Life that warms the frozen Earthmother and aids her to bring forth from seeds that have been protected through the fall and winter in her womb. From this day forward the sun will remain in the sky longer each day as a sign of the God’s strength and warmth returning.

Fun Facts

Midwinter (Antarctica)

In research stations throughout Antarctica, Midwinter is widely celebrated as a way to mark the fact that the people who winter-over just went through half their turn of duty. Depending on the station the celebrations can last from a day to a week and are typically marked by parties, team games, redecoration of the premises and days off work.

Symbols of Yule:
These are common items  that people decorate with during the Yuletide season. A Yule log, or small Yule log with 3 candles, evergreen boughs or wreaths, holly, mistletoe hung in doorways, gold pillar candles, baskets of clove studded fruit, a simmering pot of wassail, poinsettias, christmas cactus.

The Yule Log (Not the one you eat)

Burning a Yule log is probably one of the oldest Christmas tradition there is. Originally, the Yule Log was burned in honor of the gods and to bring good luck in the coming year. The log was usually from one of the largest trees that could be found locally. On a scrap of cloth or paper personal faults, mistakes and bad choices were burned in the flame so everyone's new year would start with a clean slate. The log is never allowed to burn completely, a bit is kept in the house to start next years Yule log. The Yule log also brings good luck. Any pieces that are kept protect a house from fire, or lightning, or hail. Ashes of the Yule log can be placed in wells to keep the water good. Ashes are also placed at the roots of fruit trees and vines to help them bear a good harvest.

A different type of Yule log which is more suitable for modern practitioners would be the type that is used as a base to hold three candles. Find a small branch of oak, pine or a wood you can find locally. Recently a large branch dropped from our willow oak tree and I have mad several Yule logs from it. Flatten one side so it sets upright. Drill three holes in the top side to hold red, green, and white (season), green, gold, and black (the Sun God), or white, red, and black (the Great Goddess). Continue to decorate with greenery, red and gold bows, rosebuds or cloves and then dust with flour.

Other Yule Goodies

Herbs of Yule:
Bayberry, blessed thistle, evergreen, frankincense holly, laurel, mistletoe, oak, pine, sage, yellow cedar.

Foods of Yule:
Cookies and caraway cakes soaked in cider, fruits, nuts, pork dishes, turkey, eggnog, ginger tea, spiced cider, wassail, or lamb's wool (ale, sugar, nutmeg, roasted apples).

Pagan Carols

 There are Christmas Carols abounding this time of year, but what about the die-hard pagan who want to sing something a little more appropriate to their beliefs? Yes, Virginia, there are pagan carols.

Moon of Silver
(Tune: We three Kings)

Chorus: Oh, Moon of Silver, Sun of Gold,
Gentle Lady, Lord so bold!
Guide us ever, failing never,
Lead us in the ways of old.

Maiden, Mother, Ancient Crone,
Queen of Heaven on your throne,
Praise we sing thee, love we bring thee,
For all that you have shown.

Lord of Darkness, Lord of Light,
Gentle brother, King of Might,
Praise we sing thee,Love we bring thee
On this Solstice Night.

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    • Gemsong profile image
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      Madalain Ackley 5 years ago from Richmond, Virginia

      Lol. Great link elf.

    • profile image

      Celestial Elf 5 years ago

      Hi Gemsong, for this years festive film i rewrote Dickens A Christmas Carol to be pagan themed lol

      http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=S9SBebs3A5I

    • Gemsong profile image
      Author

      Madalain Ackley 6 years ago from Richmond, Virginia

      thanks for the link. liked it.

    • profile image

      celestial elf 6 years ago

      Great Post on Yuletide :D

      Here's an alternate version of The Night Before Christmas Or Yuletide or such...

      I wrote the poem and then filmed it to share

      http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=LJLiLa7G5Ig

      bright blessings

      celestial elf ~

    • Gemsong profile image
      Author

      Madalain Ackley 7 years ago from Richmond, Virginia

      All that research you talked about. I chipped a nail on that one. ;)

    • GeneralHowitzer profile image

      Gener Geminiano 7 years ago from Land of Salt, Philippines

      Great Hub Gem and your works improves a lot too... Happy new year gem...

    • Gemsong profile image
      Author

      Madalain Ackley 7 years ago from Richmond, Virginia

      We're everywhere. Hiding in plain site.

    • Nell Rose profile image

      Nell Rose 7 years ago from England

      Hi, it was nice to see the pagan side. Evidently there are over 100,000 pagans now in little old England, thank goodness for that, I was beginning to feel lonely! cheers Nell

    • Gemsong profile image
      Author

      Madalain Ackley 7 years ago from Richmond, Virginia

      Maybe you could write a hub on the Boxing Day for us ignorant folk who only know the day,but not what it means.

    • sweetie1 profile image

      sweetie1 7 years ago from India

      Thanks gemsong for such a nice hub.. all i know about boxing day is that in Australia there is always a cricket test match which start on 26th Dec every year and is called boxing day test match.

    • Gemsong profile image
      Author

      Madalain Ackley 7 years ago from Richmond, Virginia

      You heard me sing? I am so very sorry. There are so many traditions for Yule it was tough just to pick the very few I mentioned.

    • profile image

      mtsi1098 7 years ago

      Well done - I could almost hear you singing in the Carol but now I know where this long tradition came from...thanks