YULE

    December 25th

    Yule is one of my favorite holidays, so I couldn't resist dedicating a whole page to it. I hope you enjoy learning about this beautiful Pagan tradition.

    Meaning

    Winter Solstice marks a point of dramatic change on Earth, as well as a time of balance. The Sun at Yule is at its most southeastern point over the Tropic of Capricorn in the northern hemisphere and has no apparent northward or southward motion. Winter Solstice marks the longest night and shortest day of the year. From this point on, the sun rises earlier and earlier. On Yule we honor the Goddess, Mother Earth, for giving birth to the Sun once more. Just as She draws the light within her womb during the darkest time of the year, so does she create the light at Winter Solstice. In Yul rituals, it is the job of the Priestess in the magick circle to give birth to the sun.

    Lore

    The connection between Yule and today's Christmas holiday practices is very strong. Father Winter is an ancient Pagan figure more commonly known as Santa Clause. In olden times he gave fruit, plants, and magical herbs. Today, people buy gifts for Father Winter to give to children. In olden times he was said to have worn a cape and delivered his gifts on a white horse, a symbol of the Goddess. Witches burn an oak Yule log, charging another in a magick circle, which will be kept in a sacred space until the next Winter, which serves the purpose of ensuring fuel in case of emergency. The Celts also hung small glass bowls with candles inside on their Yule trees. These we call "faery lights", and they serve as reminders that there are no straight lines in nature, only the "esoteric beauty of the curve". The wreath is a symbol not only of the Wheel of the Year, but also of the circle of life and wisdom of the All.

    Kissing under the mistletoe is a tradition that has come down to us from the Druids. Mistletoe was sacred to the ancient Druids, who gathered it from the high branches of the sacred oaks with golden sickles. White linen cloths were spread beneath so that the mistle toe would not touch the Earth (magickal powers would return to the Earth herbs touch the ground once cut). A sprig of mistletoe can be hung on the headboard of your bed as an amulet, or hung over a doorway.

    The origin of the Christmas tree goes back to pre-Christian times. In ancient Greece the fir was sacred to Artemis, the Moon Goddess who presided over childbirth. To the ancient Celts, sacred trees were called "Bele-Trees", meaning evergreen or immortal trees, associated with Bel--the Sun God reborn at the Winter Solstice. But the origin of the Christmas tree is generally ascribed to Germany, in which it was referred to as Tannenbaum, a word related to Tinn or Glastin, the sacred trees of the ancient Celts.

    The blown glass ornaments that we see today originated in Germany in the 1880s. But prior to these ornaments, most tree decorations were of paper and wax. Tree decorating reached its height in the Victorian era, and at the time the most common ornaments were of embossed lithographed cardboard, often trimmed with loops or halos of silvered white tinsel.

    Sources:
    Cabot, Celebrate the Earth
    Campanelli, Wheel of the Year