By Sarah: Many of you may be feeling like I am this year – that Christmas has turned into somewhat of a capitalist display of purchasing glittery ornaments, Father Xmas and Snowmen and large Christmas Trees – there seems to be a lack of soul and spirit. After the crazy two years we have experienced around the globe due to COVID, we may feel that something is missing from our regular Christmas cheer! SO let me introduce you to YULE and see if the idea resonates.
Yule is a Pagan festival – Pagan meaning a person holding religious beliefs other than those of the main world religions. Yule is an ancient Germanic midwinter festival associated with the god Odin (or Woden). Christmas is the Christian celebration of the birth of Christ. It is still possible to honor Christ when celebrating Yule and you will see how many similarities, there actually are in both Christmas and Yule. I just find that personally – bringing in some aspects of Yule creates a jolly and happy celebration where I can honor my Ancestors and connect with those I hold dear.
Yule starts on the 21 December – which is the Solstice – until 1st January. It’s interesting to note that from the 21st December the silly season usually starts with those who celebrate Christmas anyway – and most have NO idea that Yule festivities begin. The pagans gave gifts at the Yule celebration as well. As Christianity took over much of Europe the Christians, like the Romans, learned that the best way to truly conquer a culture was not to separate and keep apart, but to incorporate. And thus Yule became Christmas over time.
The Christmas Tree has a beautiful history – it was brought into the warm home so that the Wood Spirits would also be kept warm. It also represents through the evergreen of the Fir Tree – everlasting life. Food and treats were hung on the tree for the spirits to eat and little bells were hung on the end of the branches to ring and tinkle when an appreciative spirit was near. And a five pointed star – a pentagon – was hung at the top to signify the five elements! Isn’t that fascinating?
Kissing under the Mistletoe, singing songs for worship and joy (carols) ,the making of and hanging of wreaths – all comes from the ancient celebration of Yule from ancient times.
So how do you celebrate Yule?
Well, one of the things is to keep a fire burning on the Solstice (21 Dec) until the sunrise the next day. The yule log is meant to feed the fire over the 12 days, so in ancient times indeed it was a huge piece of wood and highly valued and appreciated. So if you’re in the Northern Hemisphere, find yourself a large piece of wood or a log or just be conscious of every piece of wood that you put on the fire and imagine the light and the warmth illuminating all your visualizations that you have for 2022. During the time of Yule – burn candles and remember loved ones who are no longer with you. Celebrate as much as you can in the evenings with candlelight.
Exchange nature based gifts such as plants or hand made items. Forget the plastic, mass produced items. So many people have lost their jobs or their funds may be limited and ANYTHING wrapped up as a gift is embraced and appreciated. Rather than spending more – be more thoughtful with the gifts that you give each other. Additionally – give back to nature – plant a tree, donate to an animal shelter – just immerse yourself in the beauty of the natural world we have around us and that sometimes we take for granted.
Involve the children and make a wreath of branches and leaves. It does not have to be perfect like the shops manufacture – just as long as it makes a circle as circles are very powerful in representing the life force that operates through nature.
Have fun making a Yule Altar – this can be a shelf or a mantelpiece where you place photographs of families, candles, crystals and obviously some pieces of nature like some Pine Cones or Holly – sunflowers if you are in the Southern Hemisphere during this time.
From the 21st of December until January 1st – let your friends know that your home is open for visitors. Spread joy and happiness and create fond memories. The beauty of Yule is that it lasts for 12 days – 12 days to mix with loved ones and friends and to just forget the worries of the world and take time to just totally relax and reboot your energy system.
What to eat on Yule – Sweets flavored with nutmeg, cinnamon, ginger, or peppermint work out perfectly for Yule. Other classics are traditional holiday biscuits like shortbread, snowball, and gingersnaps. Pears and oranges in a pudding are also a nice touch to a dessert at Yule. Feast a lot and feast often. Suggest your friends come to you and bring and share food that you all love. The key to Yule is to celebrate, relax and enjoy life for the full 12 days. Indeed – pretend you are a Viking family and embrace the life you have and the life you want. Barbeques would be popular if you live in the Southern Hemisphere.
Basically Yule gives you permission to surround yourself with love, happiness and celebration for 12 days leading up to the New Year. You can truly wipe away the stress of 2021 by surrounding yourself with everything that you love. Take the time to leave a book open where guests can write down their greatest wishes for 2022 and at the end of the year you can look back and see how many of these wishes came true.
Sometimes it is important to back out of the rat race world that we live in and create new memories. Christmas time can be very hard for those of us who have lost loved ones – so by celebrating in a more natural way over a 12 day period and lighting candles for the ones who have left us – this can bring peace to what could be a very triggering and emotional experience.
I wish you and your loved ones a blessed festive season and I will be on call throughout this time – even when celebrating Yule myself. I do understand that Christmas time is not always the happiest for many people and I am available to help, guide and uplift you in your time of need.
Love and Light,