What Is Yule?
Updated: Feb 4
You may have heard the term ‘Yule’, ‘Yule Time’, or ‘Yuletide’ being mentioned around the Christmas season, but what is Yule?
Yule is a traditional midwinter celebration derived from the Germanic People. Traditionally Yule was celebrated over 2 months believed to have begun in Mid November lasting until January. Today Yule is considerably shorter having been absorbed by other Midwinter celebrations such as Christmas. This year Yule can be observed from the first day of the Solstice 21st December 2020 until 1st of January 2021.
Yule has a considerable importance for this time of year. It is one of the oldest Midwinter celebrations still observed. Despite Christian introductions into Yule in the 14th Century, The festive season is still full of Pagan references which can be observed through songs, traditions and even the food we eat. Songs like Deck the Halls, eating a chocolate log, and putting up a christmas tree all have pagan origins. Traditional Christmas celebrates the birth of Jesus Christ but our Pagan ancestors celebrated instead the birth of the Sun God. This season was a celebration of rebirth. The turning point in the year when the days slowly become longer and the darkness and death associated with winter starts to be overcome.
Below are some items associated with this season and what they mean symbolically:
Evergreens Including The Christmas Tree
Evergreens including the Christmas Tree are a big part of Solstice and Yule celebrations. Evergreens are symbols over everlasting life. So it's no surprise that at a time when life is fleeting these powerful symbols of life are important. Each evergreen has its ow
n symbolic meaning. The most iconic of which is the Christmas Tree. There is nothing more iconic of Christmas than having a beautifully decorated tree in your home. This tradition far outdated the Christian absorption of Yule and is very much of Pagan origin, before the 1840s having a tree in your home was against Christian rule, however those who did decorated their trees with coins and trinkets which were placed on the tree as symbols of hope for the new year. Queen Victoria broke this rule during her reign after seeing the trees and wanting one for herself.
There is nothing better than curling up in the winter in front of the fire with a bunch of candles lit. But this practice once again has pagan links. Lighting candles, especially ones of red, green and gold, represent light in the darkness and can be used to represent the sun in solstice rituals.
Whether you are a giver or like to receive, there is no hiding from the fact that gift giving is a huge part of the Christmas season. Gift giving has multiple origins, but is commonly linked to the Roman festival of Saturnalia. The worship of the Roman God Saturn. This was a time for feasting, sacrifice and Role reversal of slaves and their masters. Gifts such as imitation dolls, candles and yule logs were given as symbols of the festival.
However outside of this custom gifts symbolic of nature and love were given around the time of the solstice.
This article is just a brief look at the history and traditions of the Winter Solstice. Why not research further and come up with your own Yuletide traditions.