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Yule

 

Next Sabbat - Yule
Also known as Winter Solstice; Midwinter; Christmas Celebrated December 20-23

Ever since Midsummer, the longest day of the year, the nights have been growing longer, until in December the sun sets mid-afternoon in North America. What sun we do see is watery and cold. To the ancient Celts, it must have seemed on Midwinter Night, the longest night of the year, as if the sun would never rise again. When it did the next dawn, the rejoicing and festivities began in welcome, for from this moment onwards the sun would gain in strength and light. The sun is perceived as the symbol of the sacrificed God, reborn of the Goddess once again to light the land.

Modern Pagans enact similar traditions. On Midwinter Night, at sunset, candles are lit in a sympathetic act to encourage the sun to return to the cold and darkened land. An all-night vigil follows until the first light of dawn, when the candles are extinguished and the celebrating begins!

Apart from feasting, a common part of the festivities includes the Yule log. Traditionally, this is a piece of wood that will burn for twelve nights, a small piece of which is reserved to burn with the next year's log to provide a sense of continuity. In modern times we do not often have access to a fireplace, and so an excellent alternative is a grouping of candles encircled by an evergreen wreath, or a small log with holes bored into it to serve as a candleholder, decorated with seasonal colours.

For centuries people have sought some evidence of life during the apparently barren season of winter, and have brought boughs of evergreen into their homes. For Pagan folk, these evergreen trees symbolise the ever-living Goddess, present even in the cold unwelcoming days of hardship. The modern tradition of raising and decorating a tree indoors recalls the trans-cultural myth of the World Tree, which serves as the axis upon which the world turns, also known as the Tree of Life.

Concepts: Rebirth; family and celebration; generosity and charity to those who suffer; new beginnings; life in death.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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