The winter solstice, also known as Yule; is a time of joy and celebration. The high point in the middle of the winter darkness. As Samhain was about remembering our past, at Yule we celebrate the here and now. Our familys and those we love. As well as the birth of new things to come. Winter is by no means over but this point in the wheel marks the beginning of the winter’s end. If you want to find out more about what Yule is you can check out my article here
Humans have been celebrating the Winter Solstice as far back as we can go. Which means if you want to celebrate it there and many, many, many traditions you can choose from to make your own at this time of year.
symbols of yule
Symbolism of Yule:
Rebirth, Childhood, Inner Child, Gratitude, Joy, Misrule, Survival, Growth
Date of Yule:
Yule is celebrated on the Winter Solstice the dates vary each year between 20th Dec – 22nd Dec (Northen Hempishere) and 20th June – 22nd June (Southern Hempishere)
Symbols of Yule:
Yule tree, Sunwheel, Holly and Ivy, Candles, Yule Wreaths, Feasting, Yule Log
Gold, Green, Red, White, Silver
Apple Cider, Cinnamon cakes, oranges, dried fruits, egg nog, gingerbread, mulled wine, roasted and spiced meats, roasted apples, nutloaf, the Wassail cup, mead, cranberries
Cinnamon, Ginger, dried Chamomile flowers, Juniper berries, peppermint,nutmeg
Flowers & Trees:
Holly, Oak, Mistletoe, Ivy, Evergreens, Laurel, Bayberry, Blessed Thistle, Frankincense, Pine, Sage, Yellow Cedar, Ash (for the Yule Log)
Bears, Deers. Owls, Phoenix, Reindeers, Snow Geese, Squirrels, Stags, Robins
Frigga (Norse), Cailleach Bheur (Celtic), Frau Holle (Norse), La Befana
(Italian), Mother Earth,
Baldur (Norse), the Horned God (British), Trickster gods,
Herne the Hunter (Celtic), the Oak King and the Holly King,
For me one of the most important parts of celebrating winter solstice is the longest night as it is really here where the magic happens. I can imagine our ancestors inside the long house with the fire burning bright, as they waited for the summer sun to be born deep in the heart of winter. To be able to really connect with this energy I do a sun down ceremony the eve of the solstice and stay awake until the dawn to greet the sun. Our ancestors tradtionally spent this night feasting and storytelling. So if you can gather your friends and spend the longest night making merry!
Other ways you could celebrate could be:
- Bring in the green – gather ivy, holly, pine and other seasonal greenary into your home and decorate
- Tell your favourite stories on the longest night
- Burn a Yulelog (or eat the cake !)
- Light a candle at sunset to help guide the summer sun to birth
- Make a sunwheel
Incense is great for evoking smells of the season. And collecting a drying ingredients a good way to go out and get to know the season better. Here is one recipe however you may have you own ideas. Burn the incense on a charcoal brick in a metal container.
- 2 parts Juniper berries
- 2 parts mugwort
- 1 part cedar
- 1 part pine resin (if you don’t have resin, you can use dried needles)
- 1 part dried mistletoe
- 1 part laurel leaves
- 1/2 part cinnamon
- 1/2 part rosemary
Wassailing is a very ancient Yule custom. The word ‘wassail’ comes from the Anglo-Saxon phrase ‘waes hael’, which means ‘good health’.The tradition of wassailing is primarily about toasting with a warm alcoholic drink such as Mulled Wine, however you can also make this drink with applejuice. Perfect for when you have been outside to watch the sunset!
- 2 unwaxed oranges
- 1 lemon, peel only
- 150g caster sugar
- 5 cloves, plus extra for garnish
- 5 cardamom pods, bruised
- 1 cinnamon stick
- A pinch of freshly grated nutmeg
- 2 bottles of fruity, unoaked red wine
- 150ml ginger wine/ crushed ginger
How to make:
1. Peel and juice 1 orange, and add to a large saucepan along with the lemon peel, sugar and spices. Add enough wine to just cover the sugar, and heat gently until the sugar has dissolved, stirring occasionally. Bring to the boil and cook for 5 – 8 minutes until you have a thick syrup.
2. Stud the second orange with 6 vertical lines of cloves, and then cut into segments to use as a garnish. (This can also be done first or by a helper!)
3. Turn the heat down, and pour the rest of the wine into the saucepan, along with the ginger wine/ crushed ginger. Gently heat through and serve with the orange segments as a garnish. Or you can allow the syrup to cool, and pour it into sterilised bottles for use at a later date.
I hope the returning light at solstice warms your heart and hearth xxxx
Everything you need to know about the magical winter solstice celebrated as the Nordic and Celtic festival of Yule. The shortest day and longest night, the birth of the summer sun in the middle of the winter. In this book you will learn the roots of Yule and discover how you can connect with Mother Earth at this magical time of year, through ceremony, activities & celebrations.