In the Vana Grimoire series, we share tips and background information on pagan festivals, recipes, mythologies, history and other worth knowing subjects that are related to our events. In this blog we will dive into the pagan festival Yule.
Yule is about the winter solstice, which lasts twelve days. The day with the shortest period of daylight (around December 21st) is the most important day of this festival. During that time, it is celebrated that light is born again: days lengthen and the sun will return.
Part of the wheel of time
The word Yule is thought to be derived from the Old Norse hjöl, which means rad or wheel. This wheel is on its lowest point and ready to climb up again. Every annual festival from the heathen calendar, like Beltane, Samhain and Yule, are part of this wheel. It doesn't have a beginning or ending.
During the shortest day of the year we celebrate, after a period of darkness and expulsion, that light is returning and the days will r. The festivities are combined with making a lot of light and fire, usually with a burning wheel or rad, which symbolizes the sun.
During the tranquillity of wintertime, the earth is cleansing itself and gets ready, like us, for the next season. At this turning point where days will get longer, the spirits of nature and life need to be brought back to life. This is done by making a lot of noise. The energy of life will be awakened for the new year. In the eastern part of the Netherlands, this is still a common practice. By blowing the midwinter horn, the crops will be woken up.
The power of holly
Not all crops die during the wintertime. Trees like fir, pine, and holly will stay green in winter. By taking these trees inside our houses, we are fooling the evil spirits: by pretending it's spring, the evil will stay outdoors.
Holly isn't just an important tree. You might know him in the guise of King Holly, where holly symbolizes friendship and love. This king gives us courage and strength in the darker times. During the winter solstice, the reign is taken over by his brother King Oak. He may reign after the longest night.
Curious about the story of these two brothers? You can read about them in this blog on the website of the Castlefest Winter Edition.
During the night a midwinter fire is lit, which symbolises the returning light. With this fire everybody can light their own candles, to take some luck with them for the new year. At Castlefest we have the same practise: you can light your candle as well, to bring some of the luck and light home with you.
By celebrating the Yule Ritual we are looking forward to the light that will be born again in December and we share the light in times of darkness. What do you consider the most important element of the Yule festivities? Do you celebrate it?