We can all embrace Yuletide, or Christmas with our own traditions even if we are not religious or Christian. You can be without religion and still want to celebrate our earth and the changing of the seasons. Some still don’t understand that with the Christianization of Germanic Europe, numerous traditions were absorbed from Yuletide celebrations into modern Christmas. I try to separate myself from the commercialism and marketing of the holiday in order to reflect on ancient more practical traditions that represent what this time of year is all about. In Germanic Pagan history, Yule was a time when Odin (a white bearded magical man, ruler of Asgard) led a hunting party, known as the Wild Hunt, in the sky with an eight-legged horse named Sleipnir on the eve of the Winter solstice. Children would leave their boots by the chimney filled with carrots and hay to feed Sleipnir. Legend has it that whenever Odin flew by he would leave gifts by their boots. Whatever magical history you want to put your faith into – make it a joyous occasion and give everyone the freedom to embrace their own culture. Afterall it’s the time of year to recognize peace and compassion for others.
The Winter Solstice & Yuletide: Although winter is the season of dormancy, darkness and cold, the December Solstice marks the “turning of the Sun” and the days slowly get longer. Celebrations of the lighter days to come and nature’s continuing cycle, we celebrate the birth of the “true light of the world” in synchronization with the December solstice. Bonfire’s are lit and toasts of spiked apple cider are made with family & friends as we celebrate the return of the light and rebirth of the year. Kids eagerly anticipate the coming of Kriss Kringle the Germanic Pagan God of Yule (or the Christian Santa). Evergreen boughs are brought into the home to represent the eternal Divine and mistletoe hung as a symbol of her seed. Holly is used as a constant invitation of good luck and fortune for all that visit the home. A Yule log made of Ash that is burned to bring light to the hearth at Solstice. It’s a time to reflect on plans for the future. It’s the beginning of December and this is the time to spend those long dark evenings crafting for loved ones that you intend on gift giving. It could be as simple as a batch of home baked cookies or fine jams wrapped in a decorative box with a big ribbon. We all have different talents – find yours and use it to gift to your loved ones at this time of year.