The food is put away for the winter,
the crops are set aside to feed us,
the cattle are come down from their fields,
and the sheep are in from the pasture.
The land is cold, the sea is stormy, the sky is gray.
The nights are dark, but we have our family,
kin and clan around the hearth,
staying warm in the midst of darkness,
our spirit and love a flame
a beacon burning brightly in the night.
These holidays provide us with a time for reflection, resolutions, and renewal. A time for gift-giving, good will and kindness. Most important though, they provide us with rituals to celebrate the balance of light and dark – rituals for welcoming the healing powers of warmth back into our world – and that gives us a common ground that draws us together as a people.
The History of Yule -The Winter Solstice
- Longest night of the year, and (technically) the beginning of winter.
- Begins the new solar year, and ends the old.
- The Goddess manifests as the Great Mother and the God becomes the born again Sun Child, continuing the never ending cycle of birth, death and rebirth.
- Fires are lit to give strength to the sun and to encourage it to return.
- First attributed to Germanic traditions, Yule is also a favourite of the Celtic Wheel. Literally, Yule means wheel!
Historical Traditions and Symbols
- The Yule tree, representative of the Great World Ash (Yggdrasil) would be decorated and honored. The tree chosen was left alive outside to honor the endurance of life in the coldest, darkest of nights. As to is the symbol of the wreath made with fresh sprigs from the evergreen, is a enduring symbol of life.
- TheYule log was originally an oak branch, used for the winter fire. Chosen for its slow-burning wood with the ability to still produce great heat, part of the oak branch was saved for good luck, and later used as kindling for the next Yule fire.
- Red candles are a traditional accompaniment to the Yule cake, representing the hearth flames of old. These were eventually integrated into the decoration of the Christmas tree, which in turn have become the tree lights known and used today.
- Bells were originally rung throughout the dark and cold time of the year to chase away demons.
- Candles are an important aspect of Yule as the fire melts away the chill of winter and encourages the sun to come back again.
- Elves are from the land of Alfaheimer, which was also inhabited by the spirits who created the sun. When elves are included in your festivities, it invites them to encourage the sun to shine again.
- Lights have been used for years to frighten away negative energies and to encourage the sun to shine.
- The sleigh represents the chariot used by Freyja, the Norse Goddess who delivered gifts to her friends during the 12 days following the Winter Solstice.
- The snowflake is a winter symbol of love.
- The wreath, in the shape of the circle represents everlasting life – the eternal cycle of birth, life, death, and rebirth. It is also used to represent the sun.
- Mummer’s plays (Mummer deriving from a German word meaning ‘mute’ or ‘mask’) is a play surrounding the cycles of life, death and resurrection. Players or Guisers wore masks and costumes to orally carry on the stories/legends of old.
It is an opportunity to:
- Connect with our family (in a positive and creative manner)
- Self-reflection and action upon blending the masculine and feminine within each of us.
- Act upon those projects you planned and started during Samhain
- Light your own bonfire (as long as it is within local fire regulations!). When the fire is finished, scatter a few of the ashes to the four winds from a hilltop or open space, sending your wishes for the future with them. Bury the rest.
- Choose and decorate The Yule tree, representative of the World Tree. Traditionally, this tree or log is burned on New Year’s eve ( lit with the previous year’s Yule log) and keeping part for next year’s Yule. . Unable to light a fire? This tradition can be mirrored with a piece of the trunk of the Yule tree to represent the Yule log and placing three candles: red, white, and green, atop it.
- Make a wreath as a symbol of the everlasting cycle of life.
- The Yule Feast, often some form of pork, is celebration of kinship and comradeship. This is the time when kith and kin gather to partake in the warmth of family and friends.
Bayberry, evergreen, frankincense, holly, laurel, mistletoe, oak, pine, sage, yellow cedar, rosemary, ginger, valerian and myrrh.
- Green – abundance, growth, healing, prosperity, fertility.
- Red – love, passion, fire, life cycle.
- White – cleansing, peace, protection, healing, truth, divination, tranquility, purification, childhood and innocence.
Deities associated with this time of year include: Newborn Gods, Sun Gods, Mother Goddesses and Triple Goddesses.
Yule Gods include Apollo (Greek), Ra, Osiris, Horus (all three Egyptian), Lugh (Irish-Celtic), Odin (Norse), Father Sun (Native American) and Jesus (Christianity), to name just a few.
Yule Goddesses include: the Morrigan, Brigit (both Celtic), Isis (Egyptian), Demeter, Gaea, Pandora, Selene and Artemis (all five Greek), Juno and Diana (both Roman), Astarte (Middle Eastern), Spinning Woman (Native American) and the Virgin Mary (Christianity), again just to name a few.
Pine – healing, fertility, money, knowledge, fire magick, illumination, purification, physical energy, and magickal energy, banishing negative entities.
Cinnamon – love, success, power, psychic awareness, physical energy and prosperity.
Frankincense – spirituality, protection, banishes negative entities, and is used for consecration and meditation.
Holly – protection, anti-lightning, luck, and dream magick.
Poinsettia – rebirth, and rejuvenation.
Food and Beverage associations
Traditional Yule foods include festive meats, winter vegetables, and colorful preserved fruits : applies, dried fruit, nuts, root vegetables, winter squash, meat (varieties of pork usually), candy and other sweets, Yule Log Cake (rolled chocolate cake filled with jam and cream) ad Fruitcake.
Beverages for the Yule celebration might include: Wassail (a hot drink made from wine, beer or cider, spices, sugar and usually baked apples all served in a large punch bowl), Lamb’s wool (ale mixed with sugar, nutmeg and the pulp of roasted apples), hibiscus or ginger tea, and apple cider.
Serpentine – psychic energy; Jacinth – love, and to induce a change of heart ; Peridot – protection, prosperity, sleep, health, emotional balance and intuition.
suns, moons, stars, goddesses, earth globes, pentacles, pomegranates, apples, holly, acorns, snowflakes, Yule trees, reindeer, spirals, and Holly Kings (a.k.a. those traditional-looking Santas)
- 2 litres unsweetened apple juice
- 2 cups unsweetened pineapple juice
- 2 cups orange juice
- 1/2 cup lemon juice
- 1/4 cup sugar
- 1 teaspoon ground cinnamon
- 1/2 teaspoon ground cloves
- In a Dutch oven, combine all of the ingredients. Bring to a boil. Reduce heat; simmer, uncovered, for 10-15 minutes. Serve warm.
No-Bake Chocolate Yule Log with Chocolate Mushrooms
- 1 pint heavy cream
- 3 tablespoons unsweetened cocoa powder
- 5 tablespoons orange-flavored liqueur, such as Grand Marnier or Cointreau, divided
- 1 tablespoon sugar
- 3/4 cup low-sugar orange marmalade
- 1 (9 ounce) box Nabisco Famous Chocolate Wafers
- 8 nonpareils (or use chocolate stars or small Peppermint Patties)
- 8 dark chocolate kisses, foil removed
- 1 (6 ounce) container raspberries (optional)
- Beat cream, cocoa, 3 Tbs. liqueur and sugar to stiff peaks in a large bowl. Set aside. Mix marmalade with 2 Tbs. liqueur in a medium bowl. Select a platter long and wide enough to fit a 12-inch yule log with two ‘knots.’
- On flat side of the first wafer, spread a scant teaspoon of marmalade and 1 1/2 tsps. of the cream mixture over entire surface, then top with another wafer, flat side up. Repeat until you have about 3 inches of wafers. Stand stack on its side at a slight angle on the serving platter. Keep adding to log until 16 wafers remain.
- Stack 8 wafers, also on a slight angle, on each side of the log to form two knots.
- Spread remaining whipped cream mix over whole log, coating completely, then create ‘bark’ by running fork tines along the log and each knot. Cover gently with plastic wrap and refrigerate at least 3 hours or overnight.
- Using a toothpick or ice pick, make a small hole in the bottom of each nonpareil. Stick a chocolate kiss into each hole to form mushrooms. Decorate log with clusters of mushrooms, and scatter raspberries around the platter. Slice and serve.