by Ashleen O’Gaea
We hope you were able to celebrate the New Year at Samhain, and that you got a chance to say another “good bye, farewell” to your ancestors. Now our calendar, the Wheel of the Year, has turned toward Yule.
Did you know that the word Yule comes from the Old Norse iul, which means wheel? That’s appropriate. By the time mid-Winter rolls around, most of us are ready to turn that wheel toward warmer weather!
We celebrate Yule around the 21st of December, which is – never mind what the mundane calendars and the weather ‘casters say – the middle of Winter. It’s to show our faith that what’s left of the harvest will carry us through to Spring that we set out our Yule feasts and give presents.
Decorating with bright, sunny colors is an ancient Pagan custom. So’s the use of wreaths (which represent the circle of life) and bringing in the evergreens. Evergreen suggests ever-living, and in the middle of the darkest, coldest season, many of us need that reminder that warmer days will come again. But don’t feel you need to pester everybody about the Pagan origins of Winter holiday traditions – their colorful lights and cheer encourage the “newborn” Sun to get stronger and brighter, too.
Here’s one way to celebrate Yule:
Draw a decorated Yule tree on one piece of paper, and draw three wrapped presents on another sheet. Cut or tear out the pictures of presents, and on the back, write a blessing you hope to receive: maybe patience or cheer or concentration …. Put the presents on the tree-page, at the bottom of the tree, and on 20th, 21st and 22nd of December, “open” one of your three gifts by turning the drawing over and seeing what’s written on the back. If you are able to celebrate with others, make sure you choose presents from somebody else!
A Yule Toast
To the Sun’s rebirth I toast “Wassail!”
and hope that I may share
the blessings of the God’s own ale,
and that to match his growth I dare.
As he grows strong and warms the worlds,
may I grow in wisdom, too.
May I bring light and comfort
as I see the Sun-god do.
Newborn at Yule, God, brother, friend,
my guide through mystic weather,
as the Wheel turns once again,
let us mature together.
Hail and wassail!