Have you been feeling like the Winter will never end and like the days just keep getting shorter...? I've got good news for you!! Yule (21st December) signifies the shortest day and longest night of the year! Why's that good news you ask? Because after today, the light begins to return - the days gradually become longer and hope returns! And after the year we've had, I've been looking forward to Yule more than ever! We all need a little hope, right?
What is Yule?
In a nutshell, Yule is a time to celebrate the return of the light! At Samhain, we began our descent into darkness and now we begin our slow climb back into light. It is a celebration of Death and Rebirth and a reminder of the natural cycles of life. Yule or the Winter Solstice has been celebrated by many different cultures (although called by different names) and you'll probably be surprised that many of our current traditions stem back to these early festivals!
I always took it for granted that evergreen plants are just associated with Yuletide and Christmas without really understanding why. The reasoning is that they represent eternal life! They symbolise regeneration, rebirth and immortality with plants like Ivy and Holly also offering protection. It makes sense that we include them in our decorations then, right? I'm sure your house already boasts a few evergreen plants (artificial or real) but now when you see them, maybe you'll be reminded of the hope they represent!
As well as looking beautiful, the wreaths we hang on our doors and adorn our homes with also have special meaning! Usually they're made of evergreens representing rebirth and eternal life but their circular shape goes one step further in symbolising the Wheel of Life, the cyclical nature of our existence and experience. A reminder that what goes up, must come down, the constant dance between light and dark and that what is above is also below.
Yule Tree (the Christmas Tree!)
Did you know that the use of decorated pine trees at Midwinter dates back as far as Ancient Rome? Pine trees were in fact an essential part of Goddess groves! Particularly significant, given that the Goddess gives birth to the Sun God at Midwinter - hence the return of the light. Pagan families would bring a tree into their homes as a place for the wood spirits to rest and would decorate them with food for the spirits to eat! As well as being evergreen and representing rebirth and eternal life, pine trees can also be decorated with the traditional colours of Yule (red, green and gold) and with lights or candles (traditionally) - an acknowledgement of the returning light.
How to Celebrate Yule
Here's a few ideas of how you can observe Yule:
I don't know about you, but I don't need an excuse to decorate! Understanding the symbolism behind my decorations brings additional meaning though and helps to remind me of the true message of Yule.
Evergreens, candlelight, sweet treats, wreaths... what's your favourite way to decorate?
We are celebrating the birth of the Sun and light returning to the World after all! And it's common to give give gifts in honour of such celebrations.
How can you 'give' this Yuletide? It doesn't have to be material gifts... What else could you give instead? Your time, attention, presence?
3. Rest & Reflect
It seems like every festival on the Wheel of the Year prompts us to reflect but that's kind of the point I suppose...
It's a built in alarm clock reminding us to make space and time for ourselves to reflect, reassess and plan.
At Yule, I particularly like to reflect on what I 'hope' for the year ahead. These aren't intentions as intentions seem to also involve manifestation and action somehow but 'hopes' just allow me to dream and be a little idealistic for a moment. It can be quite freeing and creative!
You can also use this Tarot spread I've created as prompts for journaling or to do a reading for yourself!
If you're ready to get deeper and clearer with your Tarot questions, you might benefit from my FREE cheat sheet & work - it'll help you gain clarity without confusion and to develop deeper personal meanings with your cards!
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Wishing you a peaceful Yule/Christmas and hopes for a brighter New Year!