Yule – December 20th-23rd
1. Return of the Sun God. As the solstice approaches, the return of Spring and Nature’s bounty cannot be too far off. It is difficult to belief that earlier people’s were uncertain about continued cycles, but there was not the scientific basis we have today. This was the height of Mid-Winter, and it was evident that there would be sufficient food, or that they would have to do with less until the Spring brought hunting and agriculture.
2. The longest night was also a mystical event. There is a strong tradition for staying awake all through Solstice night and holding vigil that the dawn might arrive. These can be powerful rituals. This was a time when the Goddess Hecate was considered strong, and her magickal world controlled the lives of those caught in heavy winter, and putting all their hopes and energies into surviving until the next season. Deaths were common, and the Lord of the Underworld was seen as real and near.
3. In contemporary culture, we are not at risk from the lack of Harvest and we focus on this solstice as the Day the Great Mother gives birth to the Sun. This is the culmination of the cycle of life and sexuality that began last May at the Beltaine festivities, and now the young God comes forth to begin the cycle anew.
4. Celtic Festival of Alban Arthan. Druidic festival. When the chief druid cut the sacred mistletoe from the Oak. (ABC of Witchcraft).
5. The Romans celebrated the Solstice with the Festival of Saturnalia, giving presents and social distinctions were erased. Masters served servants a feast. Riotous fun and merriment. This event celebrates an inversion of tradition.
6. Saxons celebrated the feast of Yule with blazing fires in the form of a Yule Log, one of the only remnants passed down to present day. They saved a piece of the Yule log from the current year to kindle the next Yule blaze.