Wishing you all a blessed Yule from everyone here at Suzie K. We hope you’re having a wonderful winter and happy holidays!
What is Yule?
Yule falls between the 20th and 23rd of December each year. It’s originally a pagan celebration, something to look forward to during the long, cold, dark winter months, as we await the return of the light. The beginning of Yule falls on the Midwinter Solstice – the shortest, darkest day of the year – and the celebration of Yuletide lasts for 12 days (now recalled as the 12 days of Christmas). This holiday marks the return of the sun, as the nights begin to draw out again and there is promise of light and warmth once more.
Yule is a time for reflection, to look back upon the past year and be grateful, and to look forward to the new year with plans for what is to come.
Some symbols of Yule include:
The Yule Log – a thick log that is burned continuously for the twelve days of Yuletide to call back the sun.
Candles – evoking the light of the sun, and used to keep evil at bay
Evergreen foliage, including holly, ivy, laurel, pine, cedar – symbolising continuing life, spring and renewal.
Mistletoe – said to represent the seed of the oak king and therefore fertility and renewal of life, it is hung in doorways for protection.
Wreaths – traditionally made of evergreens, symbolising life and renewal, the round shape also evoking the Wheel of the Year, and the circle of life and rebirth.
Bells – bells are rung to ward off evil spirits and to welcome in the light half of the year.
Food – Boar/pork (to symbolise the Wild Hunt), wassail, mulled wine or cider, ginger, gingerbread, spices, dried fruits and nuts.
Crystals – Garnet, ruby, bloodstone, emerald
Colours associated with Yule are red, green, white, silver and gold. Red symbolises love, prosperity and the Holly King who rules over the dark half of the year. Green is for the promise of spring and new life and symbolises the Oak King who rules over the coming light half of the year. White represents light and cleansing. Silver is for the moon, and gold for the returning sun.
How you can celebrate Yule
Light a fire - As part of the festivities, fires would be lit to symbolically call back the sun. A Yule Log was originally a literal log, cut from a tree trunk and kept burning constantly in the fireplace throughout the 12 days, to call the sun back. The very last part of the Yule Log was used to start the first fire of the new year, keeping the cycle of light going. The ashes of the log were also valued for different spells and charms. Nowadays, the Yule Log is symbolised by the log-shaped chocolate cake we’re all familiar with!
Eat a traditional feast - Much like Christmas now, a feast is also part of traditional Yule celebrations, marking the festival with food and drink. Rather than a Christmas turkey, a boar would traditionally have been the centrepiece of the Yule feast, in honour of the Wild Hunt of Saxon and Norse tradition.
Decorate your home - Christmas decorations have their origins in the Yule tradition too. People would bring evergreen foliage into their homes to symbolise eternal, evergreen life, the cycle of the seasons and the return of spring and new life. This is where the tradition of the Christmas tree originated. Mistletoe would also be hung in doorways to keep out evil spirits and invite in those seeking hospitality – rather than just those seeking kisses!
Make a wreath – to symbolise the cyclical nature of life and the seasons. Evergreen holly is perfect for wreaths.
Create a Yule altar – decorated with symbols of the season, you can light a candle for each of the 12 days during Yuletide, and give thanks for the successes of the past year and the hopes of the new.
Light a candle - It’s the perfect time of the year to light a candle to represent the returning sun, reflect on the past year and be grateful, to take stock of what we want to achieve in the coming year, and think how we can help others achieve their goals as well.
Drink some wassail – this was usually a mixture of ale or cider with honey and spices, but today’s mulled cider or wine is very similar. In Old English, ‘waes hael’ means ‘be well’ and the answering toast is ‘drinc hael’ – ‘drink and be well’. When the Yule Log was felled, it would traditionally be anointed in wassail as a tribute, before it was burned.
Go carolling – to honour the Midwinter Solstice in song. Children would traditionally go from door to door singing and being rewarded with tokens of prosperity for the coming year, such as food and sweets.
Give gifts – to celebrate the successes of the old year and invite in prosperity in the new, give gifts to your loved ones and celebrate the rebirth of the sun.
How we’ll be celebrating Yule at Suzie K
The next Turn of the Wheel Event, Yule, will be held at Ye Olde Custom House, Watergate Street, Chester, CH1 2LB, Monday December 18th at 6.30 - 8pm.
This event is now fully booked, but you can put your name down on the list in case of cancellations, or ask about future events. Please email Emily at firstname.lastname@example.org to do this.
Cost is a suggested donation of £4, pay on the day.
The Turn of the Wheel events are now being run by the Chester Sabat group who are a lovely group who Suzie is mentoring. Keep an eye open for their events in future, as you can see they are very popular!
And don't forget - there's free parking at the race course every Saturday and Sunday right up until Christmas Eve 2023, so it's even easier for you to pay us a visit when you do your festive shopping! But do check our social media for Christmas opening hours - we're open 10am-6pm on Saturday 23rd December, but closed on Christmas Eve, Christmas Day, Boxing Day and New Year's Eve.
Finally we’d like to wish you a very happy winter season to you however you celebrate, and we hope you have a happy and healthy 2024. We’ll see you in the new year!
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