Friday, 20 December 2019

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The Pagan Sabbat of Yule

A photo taken from above of the shape of a Yule tree laid out on a black board-esque surface, made from a star cookie, a dried orange slice, evergreen leaves, brown nuts, cinnamon sticks, walnuts, strings of red berries, and pinecones.

Photo by Annie Spratt on Unsplash.

The Pagan Sabbat of Yule

Since starting on my spiritual path, I've marked each of the Sabbats - Pagan holidays - in the Wheel of the Year (the cycle of the year and the seasons, made up of the eight Sabbats; solstices, equinoixes, and cross quarter days), as they've come by. In September there was Mabon, and in October, Samhain. And this coming Sunday will be Yule, or the Winter Solstice.

The shortest day and longest night, Yule is a solar holiday, celebrating of the lengthening of days, the returning of the light, from this point onwards, and the coming of the fertile seasons. As legend states, it's when the Oak King finally conquers the Holly King, and rules until Litha, or Midsummer. Yule might sound familiar - you may even have a Yule Log cake at Christmas. This is because many of the things we associate with Christmas are actually taken from the Pagan holiday.
  • The Christmas Tree was brought over to England by Prince Albert, but it was originally a Yule Tree, an evergreen tree symbolising continual life.
  • Pagans generally decorated their homes with plants and flowers, and holly and mistletoe were the winter evergreen plants, symbolising rebirth, brought into the home.
  • A yule log wasn't a cake, but an actual oak log, burned in the hearth or a bonfire to celebrate the returning of the light;
  • Our large Christmas Dinner comes from the large feasts that would be had, despite the scarcity of the time, as a way of celebrating the abundance to come with the return of the sun and the fertile seasons.
  • Christmas Carols evolved from wassailing; the poor would go from house to house of the rich, singing songs, and offering a drink from their wassail bowl in exchange for gifts, namely food and money, and offer blessings for the new year (look at the similarities of Here We Come A-wassailing and We Wish You a Merry Christmas).
  • The giving of Christmas presents comes from the Roman holiday of Saturnalia.

This is going to be my first Yule, and I'm really looking forward to it! Here are a few things I'll be doing to celebrate over the twelve days of Yule:
  • Sharing small gifts with loved ones.
  • Making Spiced Apple Cider, recipe from The Witch of Lupine Hollow (the recipe uses pear juice, but I'm replacing the pear with apple), and a Winter Solstice Cake, recipe from Moody Moons.
  • Performing a ritual similar to Learning Religions' Yule Candle Ritual to celebrate the retuning of the light.
  • Creating Yule Spell Ornaments and a Yule Wishing Cone.
  • Reading a tarot spread for the year ahead.
  • Perform a ritual to let go of what I want to remove from my life, by writing it down, and burning it from the flame of the candles.
  • Consider what I want to grow with the light - journal about what I want from and hope for, for the year ahead.
If you'd like to learn more, you can read more about the folklore, the traditions, and history of Yule over on Learning Religions, and you can find Fourteen Things to Do for a Magical Yule over on Siobhan Johnson.
You may also like:

Show a Little Kindness While Christmas Shopping this Christmas The Meaning of Christmas to an Atheist My Family's Chrismtas Traditions

Over to you graphic

Did you know much about Yule before reading this post? Do you celebrate Yule? If so, how do you celebrate? Do you celebrate any other holidays in December? Let me know in the comments!

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