Yule is celebrated at the winter solstice which can occur between December 20th and the 23rd in the Northern Hemisphere. It marks the longest night of the year bringing about the promise of the returning strength of the sun. This Sabbat is celebrated with much joy as the Sun God, otherwise known as the Oak King, is reborn upon the next morning.
Some of the traditions known to Yule include the battle of the Oak and Holly Kings. The Holly King reigns over the dark half of the year and the Oak King reigns over the light half. During many Yule celebrations one can witness the reenactment of this duel between these two aspects of the God. The Oak King defeats the Holly King within battle taking his rightful place upon the throne until the return of the Holly King at Midsummer.
Another tradition (and my personal favorite) is wassailing. Wassail is a traditional Yule beverage which contains cloves, cinnamon, apples, and oranges. It’s a cider which one can either create with or without alcohol. My top choices for alcohol would be spiked cider, mead, or wine. However, rum and whiskey would be a close second. Below, is one such recipe for Wassail.
Other traditions include decorating the home with holly and ivy. This was thought to appease the Nature Sprites and create an inviting atmosphere for them to celebrate as well. Within my own tradition, we cast a sprig of holly upon the fire created from the Yule log and make a wish. The Yule log is traditionally made from Ash. It is said that the log must never be bought but should be either harvested from the land of the owner or given as a gift. Before setting it afire, the log is decorated with holly and other greenery, sprinkled with cider, and then dusted with flour or the ash from the previous Yule log.
Modern practitioners of the Craft and Paganism tend to use the Yule log as a base to hold three candles. These candles can be white, gold and silver, red and green, or representative of deities. The base of the log is then decorated with ivy, holly, berries, and other decorations for the season.
Many may recognize these symbols of Yule being represented within the Christian holiday of Christmas. These symbols include decorating a tree for the home as well as using holly, ivy, and mistletoe. Even Santa Claus, reindeer, and gifting presents are linked to Pagan roots. Below are some correspondences associated with Yule for your next ritual!
Symbolism: Yule Tree, Yule Log, Rebirth, Darkness and Light, Wassail, Holly and Oak King
Goddesses: Aphrodite, Fortuna, Gaia, Hel, Holla, Idun, Ishtar, Isis, Maat, Tiamat, Brighid, Diana, Demeter, Freya, Hertha
Gods: Apollo, Attis, Balder, Bragi, Dionysus, The Green Man, Helios, Janus, Lugh, Mabon, Marduk, Mithras, Odin, Ra, Saturn, Surya, Cronos, Horus, Holly King, Horned God, Oak King
Colors: Gold, Green, Red, White, Silver
Herbs: Chamomile, Rosemary, Ivy, Sage, Bay, Bayberry, Frankincense, Juniper, Mistletoe, Moss, Oak, Pine, Cedar, Evergreen, Blessed Thistle, MyrrhIncense: Bayberry, Frankincense, Myrrh
Gems: Alexandrite, Bloodstone, Blue Topaz, Cat’s Eye, Citrine, Clear Quartz, Garnet, Ruby
Animals: Bear, Boar, Deer, Pig, Squirrel, Tiger, Wolf, Elk, Moose, Raven, Owl, Wren
Foods: Bread, Caraway Cakes, Cookies, Cream, Fruits, Fruit Cake, Nuts, Soups, Squash, Turkey, Poultry, Pork, Beer, Egg Nog, Spiced Cider, Wassail, Wine, Mead, Cinnamon Tea
Decorations: Bells, Candles, Evergreen, Holly, Ivy, Mistletoe, Pine Cones, Snowmen, Reindeer, Snowflakes, Yule Log, Wreaths, Sun
Magickal Intentions: Darkness, Divination, Light, Messages/Omens, Rebirth, Transformation, Purification, Renewal