Yule symbols such as a stag, holly and candles
Wheel of the year

What is Yule?

Yule is the first celebration in the wheel of the year. It is celebrated from December 21st which is the winter solstice, the longest night of the year, to January 1st. 

Yule is one of the oldest known celebrations of all time, dating back way before Christianity. In fact, Christianity has based much of its Christmas celebrations on those of Yule. 

The returning sun

Yule is a celebration of the returning sun. The winter solstice is the longest night, going forward from that, each day lasts a little longer, making each night a little shorter.

In ancient times the number of hours which had daylight in a day was highly important as you could not hunt for food in the dark. For villagers relying on a good harvest, they needed sunlight and the warmth that it brings, so the start of the sunlight returning for longer was an important factor each year. 

Winter forest, yule, trees, snow

What we can take from this

Although times have moved on, so we are no longer reliant on the sun for light and we do not need to hunt and gather, there is still much that can be learned from Yule. It is a time for self-reflection. The light may be returning but it is still winter and so a good time for getting cosy at home and thinking about what has been and what may come. 

It is a time for forgiving yourself for any past mistakes and making plans for the coming year. It is also a time for gratitude. Think of all the things you have to be thankful for. My favourite lesson from Yule is that no matter how dark things get, the light will always return. 

Traditional Yule symbols

Evergreens

As these plants stay green, so never die, they were thought to be strong, representing eternal life. They were hung around doors and windows to ward off death and protect the household. 

Yule log

In Celtic traditions, a yule log would be brought into the home and burned in the hearth for 12 nights to keep away evil spirits. This would be from winter solstice to January 1st so that they would start the new year protected. 

wreaths

The wreath represents the wheel of the year although as the wheel of the year is quite new, it originally symbolised the changing seasons and the circle of life. The circular shape of a wreath also offers protection to the home. 

Candles

Candles would be lit to guide the sun back into the sky and also to ward off any evil spirits. 

Candle, Magick, Ritual, Magic, Ceremony, Pagan, Occult, yule

It is hoped that this short guide offers a good insight into what is Yule and how we can still celebrate and learn from the sabbath. Of course, as with all Pagan celebrations, it is also a time for feasting and having fun! 

For all things Yule, check out the dedicated  Yule page

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