Happy Yule everyone. Also known as the Winter Solstice or Alban Arthan (Light of Winter) to Druids, it is the time to celebrate midwinter and the new solar year. Throughout human history, festivals have been celebrated at this time, whether as Saturnalia in ancient Rome, Yule in Anglo Saxon and Scandinavia, or Christmas in Christian communities. Today is the shortest day and the longest night and the Solstice occurs at 17.11 GMT on 21st December. Since the summer, the days have been getting shorter and colder, but from now on, days will begin to lengthen and get warmer as we approach Spring again. It is a time of hope and renewal.
Yule is known as the day when the Sun is reborn because the earth has reaches its furthest point from the Sun and begins to get closer again after this. Wiccans celebrate this day with the myth of the mother goddess who gives birth to the sun god, while Druids tell of a battle between the Oak King and the Holly King, in which the Oak King overcomes the Holly King on this day and rules until Midsummer.
In Norse Paganism, this time is celebrated over a 12 day festival. It begins with Mother Night on Solstice eve when they honour their female ancestors and goddesses of the home. The following days are full of feasting, burning a yule log and offerings. They light a candle each night and meditate on a virtue, while making oaths on new years eve. It’s likely that the Norse gods Odin and Thor, as well as the myths of the Wild Hunt, helped to create the modern idea of Santa Claus.
In the deepest darkness of winter, it is traditional to celebrate this time by decorating a Yule Tree, a Yule log and putting lots of lights and evergreen plants around our homes. It is a time to spend with loved ones and give gifts. It is a time to eat lots, drink lots and be joyful and merry. As Naturalistic Pantheists who want to celebrate the cycles of nature and connect with the world around us, we can go out and watch the Solstice sunrise, ringing it in with the sound of bells. We can also go for a walk in nature, toasting the trees, and putting out food for the birds and animals struggling to find something to eat in the cold winter.
My Yule feast this year will include a nut roast, sage & onion stuffing, mapled brussel sprouts with apple and walnuts, sweet & sour red cabbage, spiced swede mash, cranberry sauce and garlic & herb roast potatoes.
However you choose to celebrate today, I hope you all have a wonderful Yule and a happy New Year.