The Center for Unhindered Living


The Celebration of Yule,
Winter Solstice and Christmas

                            The true Yule celebration does not involve Jesus, a manger or angels.  Those traditions were
                            added many years later.  The original Yule celebrations involve much more ancient rituals and
                            beliefs.  Other names for this festival are:  Winter Solstice, Alban Arthan, Finn's Day, Festival
----------------------of Sol, Yuletide, Great Day of the Cauldron, and Festival of Growth.

                            As we learned in our previous study of Samhain, ancient peoples celebrated the time between
                            Samhain (October 31) and Imbolc (February 1) as the winter quarter, seed-time of the year.
                            While at Samhain the aging God died, at Yule he was reborn through the Goddess each year.
                            Incidentally, this is where Christians got the idea that God came down and was born on earth
                            at Christmas and that Mary was the "Mother of God" see, almost all Christian traditions
                            are rooted in the rituals and traditions of more ancient cultures.

                            On the Winter Solstice, the darkest of nights, the Goddess becomes the Great Mother and
                            gives birth to the new Sun-king or the Son of God, or whatever you choose to call him.  And on
                            this dark night, there springs a new spark of hope, The Sacred Fire, the Light of the World, the
                            Coel Coeth.  To read about the cult of Mithras as the origin of Christianity, Click Here.

                            On the eve of the Winter Solstice, normally around December 21, the Yule log is the center of
                            celebration.  All light and power is extinguished just before midnight.  We meditate together
                            with each other about the meaning and great gifts of the dark to nourish our dreaming, heal our
                            fatigue, etc.  Then we each make light again.  Then the Yule log is brought inside, lighted on the
                            first try with spliters saved from the previous year's log, and must continue burning for twelve
                            hours for good luck.  It should be made of ash.

                            Later, the Yule log was replace by the Yule tree, but instead of burning it, candles were lit on it.
                            The evergreen, holly and mistletoe all symbolized fertility and everlasting life.  Winter, honours the
                            body sacredness, wisdom, strength, and the capacity to survive and renew/ rebirth.
                            It is where we remember to respect and honour the gift of life itself, especially in its material
                            blessings, and simple happinesses.

                            After the Christian takeover of the Yule traditions. the master of the house would place the
                            Yule log on the hearth, sprinkle the trunk with salt, oil and mulled wine, and make the
                            appropriate prayers.  Sometimes young girls would have the privilege of lighting the log
                            with the splinters from previous years, sometimes the mother of the house had that
                            privilege.  It was said that the cinders of the log would protect the house from lightening
                            and the malevolent powers of the devil.

                            In pre-historic times, winter was a very difficult time for Aboriginal people in the
                            northern latitudes. The growing season had ended and the tribe had to live off of
                            stored food and whatever animals they could catch. The people would be troubled
                            as the life-giving sun sank lower in the sky each noon. They feared that it would
                            eventually disappear and leave them in permanent darkness and extreme cold.
                            After the winter solstice, they would have reason to celebrate as they saw the sun
                            rising and strengthening once more.

                            There have been many and varied rituals and celebrations formed over the centuries
                            in connection with these times of year.  I encourage you to either use these, or form
                            your own traditions which are meaningful to you.  There is no one tradition that is more
                            holy, righteous, or "correct" than others.  Rituals are designed to pass on from one
                            generation to the next the values and beliefs that are important to you.  As such, you
                            are entitled to celebrate that which brings you joy, happiness, and communicates a
                            sense of hope and connection to the next generation.

                            The word Yule comes from the Germanic "yula" meaning "wheel", the wheel of
                            life, represented by the changing seasons and the cycle of light and darkness,
                            death and birth.  It is a time of celebration that, though we have reached the
                            lowest, darkest time, things are looking up, starting over.  It is a time of great
                            hope and joy, no matter what your personal spiritual beliefs are.

                            Yule incense and oils appropriate to this time of year:  rosemary, myrrh, nutmeg, saffron,
                            cedar/pine, wintergreen, ginger, bayberry.

                            See  Our Family's Winter Solstice Traditions

                                  -   Yule/Solstice/Christmas Recipes

 Back to Unhindered Holiday Celebrations

Back to The Unhindered Living Knowledge Collection

Copyright 2006-12  Judie C. McMath and The Center for Unhindered Livign