Yule takes place on the day of the winter solstice, December 21st. This year on December 21st, 2013, it begins at 12:11 pm. An amazing thing will occur on this day. The Earth’s axis tilts away from the Sun in the northern hemisphere, and the Sun reaches at its greatest distance from the equatorial plane. It’s the shortest day of the year. After the 21st, the days will become longer with more sunlight.
To the Druids, Norse, Germans and Pagans, the symbolism of Yule was the rebirth of the Sun, the Longest night of the year.
It was a time of feasting, with bonfires and burning yule logs to drive the darkness away. I’m sure they roasted mutton and beef, cooked with simmering root vegetables. Perhaps a hearty stew and bread, served with apples and oranges. Most would have a Wassail bowl for toasting to the good health of the people and the continued summer harvest from the apple orchards. Blessings were also given for a bountiful hay and wheat harvest, sacred herbs, mistletoe and holly.
Homes were decorated with evergreens, juniper and ivy, cedar and mistletoe. The winter harvest of herbs had been gathered and hung to dry. Herbs of the Yule were bayberry, blessed thistle, laurel, sage and frankincense. Other scents and decorations such as cinnamon, cloves and rosemary also were used in cooking and for “making merry.”
Recipe for Wassail bowl, modern version: 2 cups of cranberry juice, 2 cups of orange juice, 1/3 cup grenadine and a cup of rum. Mix this in a punch bowl and add crushed ice. A simple toast might be for the domestic animals to survive winter, and any babies born during the dark days of winter. It would have taken a sturdy mother and baby to survive the cold that must have seeped in through the doors and windows.
Yule colors are bright- Orange and yellow to honor the Sun. Gold and silver for the Goddess, red and green for the God.
Some ideas for gift giving at Yule:
Crystals, gemstones, bells, essential oil gift sets, a live evergreen or holly tree, Tarot cards, Runes, Candles, herb plants, moon and star ornaments for the Yule branches.
A bird of honor during Yule is the robin. He announces spring. Pictures of robins are welcome, so are small ornaments, clothing, a bird’s nest with blue marbles in it. Give a gift of a bird house or two for Yule, in hopes that the recipient will be the first to spot the messenger of spring.
May Yule be full of blessings and good tidings for those who visit Mystical Magical Herbs.
~ Meadow Walker