Happy Solstice! The Pagan celebration of Winter Solstice (also known as Yule) is one of the oldest winter celebrations in the world. The celebration of Winter Solstice takes place on the shortest day and longest night of the year. In the Northern Hemisphere, it takes place between December 20 and 23, depending on the year. This year, it will take place on December 21st, 2023.
Before the spread of Christianity, people celebrated an ancient tradition called Yule. Most of the Christmas traditions that we’re familiar with today originated from this holiday. However, unlike the commercial American holiday, Yule is a celebration of the sun, rebirth and renewal, and the continuation of life.
Since Yule is the celebration of the sun, light is an important element. Flickering candles, bonfires, twinkle lights, and the traditional lighting of the tree all represent this celebration of the slow returning of the light.
Some people find that celebrating Yule is more relaxing than participating in typical Christmas customs. Instead of the high stress and the focus on consumerism, there is a connection to nature and the seasons. The holiday focuses more on giving thanks, letting go of the past, and looking forward to what lies ahead.
When people celebrate Yule, they reflect on the year that has passed while looking forward to the year ahead. It’s a time of year for reflection, connecting to those we love, and spending sacred time in nature.
Did you know that many of the Christmas decorations we use today originated from Yule Winter Solstice festivities? For instance, wreaths represent the circle of life. We ring (jingle) bells to drive away demons that arise in the darker part of the year, and we bake gingerbread because ginger was a sacred delicacy. Other holiday symbols rooted from Yule:
- Holly - represents God & repels unwanted spirits.
- Candles - symbolizes the light and warmth of the sun and a way to bring the bright energy into the home.
- Mistletoe - to represent fertility of the Goddess. The Druids used to harvest it and hang it above doorways for protection. That’s where the kissing under the mistletoe tradition began, due to the association with fertility and life.
- Pine – used to bring healing and joy.
- Yule tree - symbol of rebirth and renewal.