We have essentially cycled through an entire calendar year. This has brought us to the colder months where the daylight has become shorter, and the nights are longer. With this time of year comes the celebration of Yule. This is widely considered a Pagan holiday and observed by many.
In my prior article pertaining to this festive season, I briefly discussed several different holidays that are celebrated during this time of the year. In this article, I will be discussing some of my personal ideas and celebration for this time.
When the nights are cold, and the days are shorter, you can simply feel that the winter solstice is quickly approaching. This is a time where my family and I focus on the light overcoming the darkness, and having a swift and prosperous spring and summer. We spend some time thanking the darkness and the cold as they are vital in this ecosystem, but we also thank the sun and warmer weather for returning.
Yule is a fun holiday, one where folks and their loved ones can focus on togetherness and doing things as a family. As such, this article will focus on fun actives that can be done with the entire family, including the children. Bear in mind that this article involves the practices I do with my own family and I am a firm believer that it is important to include children in our practice as they are the ones that will help carry on our tradition for the next generation.
Several weeks before Yule, we deck the house in festive wear and hike into the woods to find a Yule log. With the Yule log, we spend some time decorating and leaving inside until the 20th of December, which is when we burn it to keep warm on the longest night of the year (the 20th going into the 21st most years). We also spend some time spanning out the feast we will have on the 21st of December with family and friends, and we decide on holiday goodies we want to make. Some of our favorites are wassail, sugar cookies, ham, and little chocolates.
In our family, we include Santa in our tradition, so he comes to visit the evening of the 20th, but we also refer to him as the Holly King. This is about the story of the Holly and Oak Kings. If you are not familiar with this story, the Oak King rules over the warmer months, and the Holly King, the colder months. The Oak King is reborn on Yule as the Holly King departs. Holly King leaves gifts upon his departure until it is his time reign once again. This story is very interesting, and therefore, it may behoove you to look up the entire story as this is just a brief synopsis of it.
There is much to be done in the days before Yule. The children and I decorate our altar for the season, just as we decorate the house and prepare the Yule log. We place things on the altar that relate to season such as pine clippings, pieces of nature, a statue of the Holly King, and December blooming flora. As Yuletide nears, the children’s excitement grows, just as it would with any child.
When the evening of the 20th of December arrives, we are ready to do our holiday ritual. We bring the Yule log to the fire pit and burn it while we drink hot chocolate. After the log is burning well, we begin our ritual. We cast our circle just as we normally would, and we invite our ancestors to join us if they are able. We ask that anyone who wishes to help, come to our aid. We light candles, we burn incense (we like woody scents such as pine this time of year), we bring a small nature offering such as branches or flowers, and we bring in some melted snow (this is special to us because it does not snow here). We sing our circle song as the kids love it.
We are a circle
Within a circle
With no beginning,
Next, we discuss how both the light and darkness are of great importance. We then bid the darkness farewell and greet the light that is to come. We go around the circle and ask everyone what they are thankful for and what they want to achieve in the coming warmer months. Afterwards, we ask all that have come to put some energy toward having a good harvest next year (we homestead) and for prosperity throughout the year. We bid our farewells to those who have joined us and we close our circle. My children love to sing songs when we are finished.
Below is one of our favorites:
We are one with the lady,
We are one with the lord,
We are one with the chalice,
We are one with the sword.
We pray that balance will
One day be restored.
They will know we are Pagan by our love.
Yes, they will know we are Pagan by our love.
After we have concluded our ritual and sang our songs, we head inside where we leave cookies for Santa. We then prepare for bed, but before we do, we turn every light in the house on and leave them on all night long. This will help welcome the light and warmer weather. It has been cold for quite some time; we are looking forward to warmer and longer days. When the kids wake the next morning, there are gifts by our tree, and we begin to celebrate our day with family and friends as we host a feast on the grand day.
I sincerely hope that you have enjoyed the unique ways in which my family and I celebrate this holiday season. And hopefully, it has also inspired you to start some of your traditions with your family.
May your days be merry and bright.
~ Sara Lynn
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