For Samhain last year I started a series of posts of sabbat celebration ideas. I thought I'd done one for Yule but it seems I haven't! Never mind, since Yule is coming up on Thursday (21st Dec) I'll do one this year. :) In 2016 I included some information about the origins of Father Christmas in my Yule post. You can read that here: https://livingseasonal.blogspot.com/2016/12/yule-2016-origins-of-father-christmas.html
Yule aka the Winter Solstice or Midwinter comes during the "dark time" of the year but it's also a turning point, because after the shortest day and longest night on Yule itself, the days gradually get longer and lighter again. (We won't see much of a difference for a few weeks though). Solstice literally means "Sun stands still". It's about the rebirth of light and is a fire festival. Its counterpoint is Litha aka the Summer Solstice or Midsummer and if you're in the Southern Hemisphere, your Litha is coming up. In that case you might like this post on Litha celebration ideas:
Yule is also about the Sun God being born again. And there is the legend of the Holly King who has ruled over the darkening year since Litha, but now gives way to the Oak King who will preside over the lightening days and rule until next Litha/Midsummer. (See the Yule link in the first paragraph for links to more information about the Holly and Oak Kings).
Although we're moving towards light, we're still in winter and will be for a couple of months or so yet. Some people believe that winter starts officially on the Winter Solstice, while others believe it started on 1st December. I wrote a bit about it in my recent post on getting ready for winter which you can find here: https://livingseasonal.blogspot.com/2017/12/getting-ready-for-winter.html
I also linked to an article I found last year about spiritually preparing for winter: http://themagickkitchen.com/preparing-winter-spiritual-alignment/
Now here are some links with more information about Yule:
And some post with ideas for celebrating:
I like Michaela's (the owner of Penniless Pagan) suggestions for baking gingerbread and enjoying the holiday lights. I love seeing all the Christmas lights at this time of year. I also like No. 7 in the Green Parent article, Write down your gratitudes for the year. Gratitude is associated with the harvest season and the 3 harvest festivals, Lammas, Madron and Samhain (from August to October) but we are ending the calendar year and about to start a new one (the Wiccan/pagan New Year is Samhain), so it's a good time to reflect on your year and be grateful.
Moody Moons has some good suggestions for winter crafts. Not specifically for celebrating Yule but good for this time of year. I'd also add knitting as a nice one to do. :) In the past I've knitted Christmas decorations and I've recently been making a blanket with a pattern from a knitting magazine. I gave up buying the mag because I couldn't really afford to get it every week anymore, but it's been good practise!
And here's a good post about winter magic/k, spells and goddesses: https://tarotpugs.com/2017/11/05/winter-magick-spells-and-goddesses/
The Yule log was traditionally a log of wood which was burnt on the fire/in the hearth on Yule. You would keep the remains of it and light the new one next year. You can read more about it at the links below:
Nowadays with less open fires you can of course substitute candles. Or you can make/buy a chocolate Yule log instead which has the added bonus of being something yummy to eat! For the past few years I've celebrated with a chocolate Yule log. Most of the time I've bought one, although I did make my own in 2014. You can see that here: http://livingseasonal.blogspot.co.uk/2014/12/yule-2014.html
I found it quite tricky making my own but it is fun to have a go. I considered doing one this year but in the end I decided to buy one from Sainsbury's! Last year I got one from Asda. If you're into baking and fancy making your own Yule log, then here are a couple of recipes:
You also might like the red velvet Buche de Noel (French name for yule log) that I made for Christmas 2014: https://livingseasonal.blogspot.com/2014/12/red-velvet-buche-de-noel.html
Or the Christmas vanilla roll cake I baked for Christmas 2013: https://livingseasonal.blogspot.com/2013/12/christmas-vanilla-roll-cake.html
Both were nice.
If you''re not into the Yule log you could do what Michaela (see Penniless Pagan link above) suggests and bake gingerbread instead. I tend to make gingerbread for Lammas, Madron and Samhain (although the past few years I've made some type of ginger cake for Madron), but I'm thinking of baking some ginger biscuits maybe one day this upcoming week. (Just because it's the Christmas season!). You can find gingerbread recipes at these links:
https://www.bbc.co.uk/food/recipes/gingerbread_men_99096 (Similar to my staple Lammas recipe that I get off the Tesco light brown sugar packet!)
https://realfood.tesco.com/recipes/chocolate-ginger-bat-biscuits.html (Make these for Hallowe'en/Samhain. more ginger biscuits rather than gingerbread)
http://www.waitrose.com/home/recipes/recipe_directory/g/gingerbread.html (Have not made these but they look nice)
Since Yule is a fire festival and all about light returning, candles are appropriate. I usually light two red and green candles on Yule, and another two on Christmas Eve/Day. You can also use a white candle because white can be used for basically anything, since it's a neutral colour. And I'd say gold, orange and yellow would be good too because they're bright, "sun" colours. But if you have another favourite colour then why not burn a candle in that colour? It's up to you and you'd still be celebrating light anyway. :)
Hope you enjoyed the post and found some useful ideas for celebrating Yule. :) I'll post about my Yule next weekend (might post earlier because next Sunday will be Christmas Eve). I'll have the chocolate Yule log, candles and maybe make some hot chocolate or hot spiced milk.
I thought I'd end with a couple of carols. First of all, In The Bleak Midwinter (Choir of Kings College, Cambridge version). It is Christian, not pagan but it sounds peaceful: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=U0aL9rKJPr4
And Noon of the Solstice by Damh the Bard: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=LFNmE4rkRFY
Happy Yule! (Or Happy Litha, depending where you are). :)
Photo: Shoreham late night shopping event. Copyright Moonsparkle 2017.