This time of year is magical for me in many ways and grey in others. The waning light is always hard for me. I don’t always feel merry and bright when it’s dark and, well, just icky outside. That’s why I look forward to Winter Solstice like a Green-Woman waiting for Spring. I love the light.
No matter what your spiritual persuasion, Christmastime is a time of celebration. For me, it’s a promise of brighter days to come and thankfulness for the harvest life has blessed me with in the previous months. I love the presents and the candle-making (which I do in my grandmother’s double-boiler so I feel closer to her and her traditions) and the card-writing, and every moment spent enjoying communing with those I love, those I really like a lot and those I’d like to know better.
This time of year for me is about people, love, light and tradition. It is a glorious time because we want to love and relate to others and become better people.
So, I feel like I should start with tradition. Yule is the celebration of the longest night, relinquishing itself to the light half of the year. Yule varies according to the Gregorian calendar from December 20~23rd . Traditionally bonfires are lit, crops and trees are “wassailed” with toasts of spiced cider and cheers to wish health upon one’s crops, especially apple trees. Evergreen boughs symbolize immortality and are connected to the Divine. Evergreens symbolize the ever-green spirit in all of us, even in our darkest moments.
Wheat is used to symbolize prosperity, plenty, the culmination of the harvest spent during the cold-winter’s-night, triumph, light and life. The pagans may have used this symbol first, but isn’t it interesting that WATERFORD CRYSTAL has used it in their toasting flutes and Christmas ornaments in time immemorial.
Often, as a child, I received an orange, actually lots of oranges, in my stocking. I didn’t realize what a gift this was for Scandinavian people and all people of the North who would have treasured citrus at this time of year. I thought it was weird and cheap. Now….?… I think it’s really cool.
So, what are the traditions for celebration in your family? Do you have a favorite food or decoration or tradition that symbolizes the season for you? Please share. I’d love to hear it! Happy Yule, Merry Christmas and May Your Celebrations bring Light and Love into your Life.