The Celebration of Yule
Yule falls on the Winter Solstice, when the Earth's poles are at their furthest tilt away from the sun, it is also referred to as midwinter. In the Southern Hemisphere this falls on the 21st of June and in the Northern Hemisphere 21st December.
Yule is the longest night of the year and has been celebrated since ancient times. It is a time to gather with family and loved ones.
While it is the longest night of the year this festival is actually a light festival, in fact this is a celebration of the returning light of the sun and the coming rebirth of spring.
The History of Yule
Since ancient times, cultures from around the world have celebrated the Winter Solstice, from the Mayan's and Inca's of South America, to the Aboriginals here in Australia, to the Ancient cultures of Europe.
The Ancient Egyptians celebrated the Sun God Ra which saw the celebration of the sun spread throughout the ancient world. From the Norse people who celebrated with feasts and merrymaking, to the Druids who would sacrifice a white bull and gathered mistletoe in celebration. Through to Ancient Rome where the festival was known as Saturnalia which was a week long festival of feasting, parties, debauchery, sacrifices and gift-giving, all in honour of the God Saturn.
From Pagan to Christianity
The new religion had trouble converting the Pagans, who did not want to give up their festivals. Christian churches where built on Pagan sacred sites and they incorporated Pagan Symbolism into the Christian symbolism. Eventually they would move the celebration of the birth of Christ to December 25th to coincide with the Pagan's celebration of Yule and the Winter Solistice.
Symbols of Yule
A lot of the Symbols of Yule have been incorporated into the holiday of Christmas.
Here is a list of some of the symbols and decorations associated with Yule:
Yule log either oak or pine.
Strings of dried flowers
Fruits such as apples, oranges and berries
The Pagan Celebration of Yule
For the Pagan's this is a time to celebrate the light, but to also revere the night. It is the time of rebirth, for the God is reborn to the Goddess. It is the time to celebrate the Mother, all mother's, to call back the light of the sun. It it the end of the old year and the beginning of the new year.
Ways to celebrate Yule
There are many ways to celebrate Yule, here are a few ways to celebrate with your loved ones.
- Pull out the Christmas tree and decorate it with lights and other Yule symbols.
- Decorate a log to be burned in a bonfire.
- Hang mistletoe over doorways, and make your own wreaths.
- Create a Yule alter and decorate it with holy, mistletoe, pine cones, ivy, berries and ribbons.
- Make a Yule feast to celebrate with family and loved ones.
Happy Yule everyone and many blessings for the New Year.