Yule and the Winter Solstice is that time of year where magick fills the air like snowflakes on a cold winters day. Homes are decorated with a myriad of colorful, twinkling lights, the aroma of balsam is everywhere, and there’s an energy in the air that is palpable. It’s an occasion when we are drawn to spend time with family, friends, and loved ones. It is a time for self-care, relaxation, and to turn our thoughts inward. As the Wheel of the Year turns we find ourselves in Yule season where welcome the warmth of a fire, snugly sweaters, hot mulled cider or wine, and of course comfort foods. And I must admit it’s one of my favorite times of the year. So grab your favorite fleece blanket and warm beverage as we delve into some brief history and traditions of Yule

Yule is one of the oldest celebrations in the world and is observed on the day of the Winter Solstice, around December 21 in the northern hemisphere, and around June 21 in the southern hemisphere. It is the shortest day and longest night of the year, and is also known as Midwinter, Yuletide, Sun Return, and Pagan New Year. It is a time of rebirth, renewal, and new beginnings as we welcome the light and the return of the Sun. This is why candles are a such big part of this Sabbat.

The celebration of the Solstice season dates back centuries and is observed by many different cultures. The Norse people started the custom of the Yule log, decorating evergreen trees, and wassailing. They referred to this time of year as Jul. The Romans, starting on December 17th, would have a week long party of feasting, merriment, and gift giving. This celebration was called Saturnalia and was in honor of the god Saturn. The ancient Egyptians celebrated the return of the sun god Ra as a way to give thanks for him warming the crops and the land. You can use these as inspirations of how to honor this Sabbat or you can create your own traditions. It need not be extravagant, it can be as simple as lighting some scented candles, relaxing on the couch with your favorite cocktail and watching your favorite holiday movie. I for one have made this as part of my Yule celebration.

As some of you may know, Christmas traditions are steeped in Pagan roots. Kissing under the Mistletoe, caroling, gift giving, holly, decking the halls, hanging ornaments, and even fruitcake. Yes I know what you all think about fruitcake, but it actually has a rich history dating as far back as ancient Egypt. And it is actually made to last...Forever.

There are correspondences attached to this time of year as well.

Gemstones for your for your celebrations at this time include:

  • Bloodstone
  • Ruby
  • Garnet
  • Green Aventurine
  • Emerald
  • Red Jasper
  • Moonstone

Animals associated with Yule are:

  • Deer
  • Reindeer
  • Squirrels
  • Chickadees
  • Blue Jays
  • Cardinals
  • Mythical Phoenix

Herbs, plants, trees, and resins associated with Yule are:

  • Oak
  • Evergreens
  • Bayberries
  • Dried rose petals/buds
  • Oranges
  • Cranberries
  • Mistletoe
  • Bay
  • Pine
  • Ginger
  • Valerian
  • Frankincense
  • Cinnamon
  • Myrrh

This is such a festive time of year and many of the herbs and greenery are used to make wreaths or garlands which can be decorated with sun and star symbols. Celebrate with foods from local farmers or from your own personal garden. Pears, apples, oranges, lemons, cranberries, cinnamon sticks, popcorn, nuts, corn, pork, cookies, cakes, wine, cider, mulled cider, ginger tea and various fruit and vegetable pies are just a few examples to add to your holiday dinners. Many of these foods and spices can be used for decorations, added to garlands or used to make simmer pots and incense. And Yule wouldn’t be complete without the iconic colors of red, green, white, and gold. However you choose to celebrate Yule and the Winter Solstice the best way is to make it your own. May you and your family, find peace, joy, love, and comfort at this most magickal time of year.

From all of us at 13 Moons, we wish you a blessed Yuletide.