Today we have the Winter Solstice, i.e the shortest day and the longest night of the year. Since tomorrow the days will become longer. In some places, people celebrate this event by the rituals of Yule festival, the pre-Christian tradition known in Europe.

I would like to make you familiar with the ancient ceremonies, often erased by force by contemporary religions. I will base my today’s post on Wikipedia where you can find profound information about Yule. My goal is to inform my readers about this festival. I will also give them some of the sources I have found myself on the Internet.

There is also a book on Amazon about Yule and another good article which I can recommend. You can learn about the Celtic tradition called Yule Lore.

What Is Yule

Yule refers to the powers of nature, our Mother Earth, the solar cycle in particular. Wikipedia describes it in the following way:


Yule, (pronounced EWE-elle) is when the dark half of the year relinquishes to the light half. Starting the next morning at sunrise, the sun climbs just a little higher and stays a little longer in the sky each day.

We know this festival as Solstice Night, or the longest night of the year, the sun’s “rebirth” was celebrated with much joy. On this night, our ancestors celebrated the rebirth of the Oak King, the Sun King, the Giver of Life that warmed the frozen Earth. From this day forward, the days would become long.er

Where People Celebrated Yule

Further Wikipedia states that


Yule is a festival observed by the historical Germanic peoples. Scholars have connected the celebration to the Wild Hunt, the god Odin, and the pagan Anglo-Saxon Mōdraniht. It later underwent Christianized reformulation resulting in the term Christmastide.

Terms with an etymological equivalent to Yule are used in the Nordic countries for Christmas with its religious rites, but also for the holidays of this season. Today Yule is also used to a lesser extent in the English-speaking world as a synonym for Christmas.

Present-day Christmas customs and traditions such as the Yule log, Yule goat, Yule boar, Yule singing, and others stem from pagan Yule. Today the event is celebrated in Heathenry and some other forms of Modern Paganism.

How People Celebreted This Evevt

I will describe you the rituals of Yule according to the Celtic Connection:


Bonfires were lit in the fields, and crops and trees were “wassailed” with toasts of spiced cider.  Children were escorted from house to house with gifts of clove spiked apples and oranges which were laid in baskets of evergreen boughs and wheat stalks dusted with flour. The apples and oranges represented the sun.  

The boughs were symbolic of immortality (evergreens were sacred to the Celts because they did not “die” thereby representing the eternal aspect of the Divine). The wheat stalks portrayed the harvest, and the flour was an accomplishment of triumph, light, and life. Holly and ivy not only decorated the outside but also the inside of homes, in hopes Nature Sprites would come and join the celebration.

A sprig of Holly was kept near the door all year long as a constant invitation for good fortune to visit the residents. Mistletoe was also hung as decoration.  It represented the seed of the Divine, and at Midwinter, the Druids would travel deep into the forest to harvest it. “

You Can Also Celebrate Yule

Celtic Connection also gives an idea how you could celebrate Yule:


 Decorate your home with a Yule tree, holly or candles, you are following some of these old traditions.   The Yule log, (usually made from a piece of wood saved from the previous year) is burned in the fire to symbolize the Newborn Sun/Son.

The same website also describes what kind of herbs, food, colors, incenses, stones, and activities correspond to celebrating Yule. For example, people make and eat 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).

They sing carols, wassail the trees, burn the Yule log, decorate the Yule tree. People exchange presents, kiss under the mistletoe, honoring Kriss Kringle the Germanic Pagan God of Yule.

According to Celtic Connections’ article the spellworkings of Yule are peace, harmony, love, and increased happiness. You use the following stones: rubies, bloodstones, garnets, emeralds, diamonds and the following colors: red, green, gold, white, silver, yellow, orange.

Germanic Paganism


On the otehr hand, Wikipedia states that


Yule is an indigenous midwinter festival celebrated by the Germanic peoples. The earliest references to it are in the form of month names, where the Yule-tide period lasts somewhere around two months in length, falling along the end of the modern calendar year between what is now mid-November and early January.

Contemporary traditions


Yule is celebrated in modern Germanic language-speaking areas and some other Northern European countries, historical cognates to English yule denote the Christmas holiday season. Examples include jul in Sweden, in Denmark and in Norway, jól in Iceland and the Faroe Islands, joulu in Finland, Joelfest in Friesland, Joelfeest in the Netherlands and jõulud in Estonia.

In a Nutshell

Yule is an ancient tradition celebrated in most of Europe before it was christianised. Today people still consider this custom as a pagan way of celebrating Christmas. However, while we come back to the ancient ways of connection with God, the Source of Light and Love, you can also celebrate Yule.

Vicky

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