Thursday, December 21, 2006

Happy Yule!

Happy yule to everyone! I'm deviating from the norm today, dedicating this post to everything Yule :) I want to give a nice overview of the meaning of Yule and some of the Lore that goes with it. I pulled this from Akasha's site (I hope she doesn't mind!) Following the Lore, I've set up some links, for anyone interested in reading more about the holiday/tradition. Some of the similarities between Christmas and Yule may surprise you...

Happy day to all!

Yule Lore (December 21st)

Yule, (pronounced EWE-elle) is when the dark half of the year relinquishes to the light half. Starting the next morning at sunrise, the sun climbs just a little higher and stays a little longer in the sky each day. Known as Solstice Night, or the longest night of the year, much celebration was to be had as the ancestors awaited the rebirth of the Oak King, the Sun King, the Giver of Life that warmed the frozen Earth and made her to bear forth from seeds protected through the fall and winter in her womb. Bonfires were lit in the fields, and crops and trees were "wassailed" with toasts of spiced cider.

Children were escorted from house to house with gifts of clove spiked apples and oranges which were laid in baskets of evergreen boughs and wheat stalks dusted with flour. The apples and oranges represented the sun, the boughs were symbolic of immortality, the wheat stalks portrayed the harvest, and the flour was accomplishment of triumph, light, and life. Holly, mistletoe, and ivy not only decorated the outside, but also the inside of homes. It was to extend invitation to Nature Sprites to come and join the celebration. A sprig of Holly was kept near the door all year long as a constant invitation for good fortune to pay visit to the residents.

The ceremonial Yule log was the highlight of the festival. In accordance to tradition, the log must either have been harvested from the householder's land, or given as a gift... it must never have been bought. Once dragged into the house and placed in the fireplace it was decorated in seasonal greenery, doused with cider or ale, and dusted with flour before set ablaze be a piece of last years log, (held onto for just this purpose). The log would burn throughout the night, then smolder for 12 days after before being ceremonially put out. Ash is the traditional wood of the Yule log. It is the sacred world tree of the Teutons, known as Yggdrasil. An herb of the Sun, Ash brings light into the hearth at the Solstice.

A different type of Yule log, and perhaps one more suitable for modern practitioners would be the type that is used as a base to hold three candles. Find a smaller branch of oak or pine, and flatten one side so it sets upright. Drill three holes in the top side to hold red, green, and white (season), green, gold, and black (the Sun God), or white, red, and black (the Great Goddess). Continue to decorate with greenery, red and gold bows, rosebuds, cloves, and dust with flour.

Deities of Yule are all Newborn Gods, Sun Gods, Mother Goddesses, and Triple Goddesses. The best known would be the Dagda, and Brighid, the daughter of the Dagda. Brighid taught the smiths the arts of fire tending and the secrets of metal work. Brighid's flame, like the flame of the new light, pierces the darkness of the spirit and mind, while the Dagda's cauldron assures that Nature will always provide for all the children.

Symbolism of Yule:
Rebirth of the Sun, The longest night of the year, The Winter Solstice, Introspect, Planning for the Future.

Symbols of Yule:
Yule log, or small Yule log with 3 candles, evergreen boughs or wreaths, holly, mistletoe hung in doorways, gold pillar candles, baskets of clove studded fruit, a simmering pot of wassail, poinsettias, christmas cactus.

Herbs of Yule:
Bayberry, blessed thistle, evergreen, frankincense holly, laurel, mistletoe, oak, pine, sage, yellow cedar.

Foods of Yule:
Cookies and caraway cakes soaked in cider, fruits, nuts, pork dishes, turkey, eggnog, ginger tea, spiced cider, wassail, or lamb's wool (ale, sugar, nutmeg, roasted apples).

Incense of Yule:
Pine, cedar, bayberry, cinnamon.

Colors of Yule:
Red, green, gold, white, silver, yellow, orange.

Links to more info:

For an interesting historical perpective, click here.

Info on the Winter Solstice, with some really great links to sites on "The Ancients"

Info on Sacaea-Saturnalia and the Sun-worshipping party-going Egyptians and Romans!

Some more tid-bits on the Scandinavean influence on Yule.

These are just a few links. There are so many out there and it's fascinating to find correlations between what is practiced now by way of the Christian tradition of Christmas and the Traditional way of the Pagan community now and hundreds of years ago.


At 10:34 AM, Blogger Em said...

You're too much, Lady of Knowledge! What an interesting lot of facts. I'd type more but I'm off to get my piece of pine to flatten and drill holes in and decorate...
Hope all is going well there! It's probably a good thing I don't live near you and your pie making self- oh, the temptation! There's something about pie, though, isn't there? SO much nicer than cake. Hm.
We're off to TN in the morning! Wish you were in town- we might have arranged a meetin'. Oh well, next time.
Happy EWE-le day to you.

At 1:37 PM, Blogger Rachel said...

And happy Yule to you also!!! :)

At 6:38 AM, Blogger Ann said...

I completely love this post!!!
We try to have our own solstice celebrations each year, but this year the pregnancy has made me forget all else.
At least reading your post was a bit of celebration for us this year!
This is the first year LB hasn't had a Winter Solstice celebration.
Makes me sad.
I must to better next year!
Loved the links.
Thank you!


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