Updated: Mar 7
First, what exactly is Yule?
Yule is a Pagan holiday associated with the Winter Solstice, the longest night of the year. It is a celebration of the return of the Sun God, as each day following the Solstice, daylight increases. "Candles are lit, feasts are enjoyed, and evergreen foliage is brought in the house as a reminder that, despite the harshness of winter, light and life have endured." (Llewellyn's Essential Sabbats - Yule, Llewellyn's Publications, Woodbury, MN, ISBN 978-0-7387-4451-3) It's basically the role model on which many a Christmas tradition was based, and if you live in the Northern Hemisphere it arrives in a couple of days on December 21st. (The Winter Solstice typically falls on December 20th or 21st.)
Here are some of the symbols that have pagan origins...
Evergreen trees and boughs were brought inside as symbols of enduring life and perseverance. While decorating them was thought to invoke protection from the harsh winter.
The birth of the baby Jesus mirrors the rebirth of the Sun God. A representation of birth and renewal. Jesus becomes the savior of man's souls, while the Sun God represents the savior of man in the physical plane, for without sun there would be no life.
Food and gifts were shared in gratitude for family and friends, of the year that has passed, and hope for the one yet to come.
Silver and gold decorations represented the Moon Goddess and the Sun God.
Candles announced the renewal of light and are often a part of any ritual or magic working.
While I love the traditions of Yule (and Christmas), I also love the fact that it signals a time for me to start planning towards the next growing season - both internally and externally. It's around this time that we clear out the garden and begin to prepare it for Spring. We'll remove the old plants, add compost, and turn the beds over then let them rest. I'll go through my closet and look for items that no longer fit, either literally or figuratively. They'll get pulled out and sent elsewhere, whether that's a post on Poshmark or donated to the local thrift store. I'll also look for projects that can be accomplished during January and February such as painting or doing a bit of remodeling. Painting my "witchy" room, as Lance likes to call it, and adding some crown molding in the living and dining rooms are already on the agenda.
But beyond the physical, it's also when I reflect on what I need to shed from my life and what I would like to manifest in the new year. With the lighting of a Yule Log or simply a candle on the night of the Solstice, I usher in renewed energy towards my soul desires, and release any stale or stagnant energy that is holding me back. It can be simply done in one's mind, or written on paper. If written, I suggest using two sheets, one for what you would like to release and one for what you want to call in. I always burn documents representing what I want to release and then toss the ashes out. For the things I want to call in, I place those either on my altar, or in a special manifestation box. There's no set method to how to do it. Do what feels right for you.