My family’s modern day guide to an ancient Pagan holiday.
I honestly know nothing about Yule and I don’t think anyone does. That’s the thing about Pagans, there isn’t really much we know about them outside of folklore and speculation. Their culture and stories, like so many others, was driven underground and stamped out by the Roman Catholic Church.
Everything I know about being a Pagan comes from deep within my soul.
I was born to revive these celebrations. They live in me and have since I was very young.
Some of the notes about hypothicized old themes came from this blog post the main 6 themes came from my own heart and what I would like to make a part of the closing of my year. They are reflection, dreams & goals, celebration, playfulness, making plans and giving thanks. Basically Yule for me is about giving myself the permission, time and space to do all of the things I long to be able to do.
During the 12 days of Yule I focus on one of each of the 6 themes for a couple days. Giving myself two days feels more spacious, more do able and less pressured to fit everything into the brief daylight hours that exist at this time of year.
Below are some of my rough notes on how I have tried to celebrate Yule in our family. I started out celebrating Solstice with my children over a decade ago and have expanded that practice into the 12 nights of Yule.
12 Nights of Yule – Dec 20th – 31st
No work – No Facebook – No scrolling – Family & Friends Only
20th & 21st – Reflection
Gather photos from the year, sort and organize them into folders digitally, print photos if you haven’t already. Share stories and memories of the year past with the kids. Write them down. Go through your notebook from last year. Get out a new notebook. Review last years goals.
20 – Put soup on the stove and go for a walk at dusk. Bring that light from your heart when you strike the match and light the candles to sit in darkness.
21 – Make a chicken pot pie with your kids, make bird feeders and decorate a winter tree.
20th – Mother’s Night – Industriousness – January
21st – Wild Hunt – Perseverance – February – marriage, union
22 & 23 – Dreams
Talk about what you would like to do next year, next five years, in life. Share dreams and ambitions and ideas. Ask friends who you want to build projects with. Plant seeds figuratively and physically.
22nd – Sacred Darkness – Moon Goddess
Rekindle friendships, taking oaths and setting goals, journal dreams and ambitions
Courage – March – rebirth
23rd – Sacred Celebration – feast, hospitality, toasting, kinship
Love – compassion/forgiveness – April – new projects new life choices adventures gardens
24 & 25th – Celebration
Make gingerbread dough first thing in the morning (this actually may need to be done on the 23rd). Be a present and focused hostess. Serve those in your life to the best of your ability.
24th – Sacred Community
Cooperate with kin and friends, be a good guest or a good host – volunteering
Hospitality – May – union with the land
25th – Sacred Healing – eating well, moderation and self preservation
Help someone who is poor and ill – learn herbs and plants
Discipline – honor, morality – June – merriment, gratitude, good things
26 & 27th – Play
Go sledding and skating and skiing. Eat leftovers. Let the house be messy.
Have a fire.
26th – Sacred Children – sledding
Fidelity – being faithful – July – prepare, store
27th – Sacred Snow & Skiing – play, storytelling – skiing and bonfire
Truth – August – feast – popcorn string
28 -29 – Make Plans
Settle the children with their other family members and feel gratitude for the support you have in your life so that you can have this space and time for yourself.
Get out your calendar and make plans. Write on the desk calendar. Finn’s calendar. Kitchen calendar. Stay up late.
28th – Father’s Night – kids with dads
Honor the fathers and the masculine in your life
Honor – September – gratitude for labours, count your blessings, harness your strength
29th – Sacred Light – plan next year – stay up the whole night – awake a dawn
Justice – equity, fairness – October – hunt, conserving
30th & 31st – Gratitude.
Give your thanks to everyone you can think of who contributes to your life. Share this thanks in a text, a letter, an email, an offering, however you can show your appreciation.
30th – Sacred Valkries/Muses – honor artists, artisans, creative muses
Self reliance, industry – November
31st – Sacred Ancestors & Oath – set an extra place at the table – Feast (pork)
tell stories singing and candy apples – stay up all night – swear oaths – make a wassail (party drink)
Wisdom – December – gratitude to soil and ancestors, gifts
To me Yule is about closing the year with intention, mindfulness and grace. All of the things I wish to cultivate in my life. It is also about honoring the spirit and the unseen forces that have influence over our lives. I choose not to name them because I do not know them by name I know them by feeling.
May you cultivate a Yule tradition that honors that which is within you.