Yule Celebration and History
Celebrated as according to the Gregorian calendar and which hemisphere you are located in, Yule, also know as Solstice Night, is the longest night of the year. It is usually celebrated from the 20th to the 23rd of December.
Yule happens when the dark half of the year withdrawals into the light half. Beginning the next morning at sunrise, the sun will elevate higher and remain in the sky with each passing day. It represents the rebirth of the Oak King, the Sun King, the Giver of Life that warmed the frozen Earth.
Bonfires were lit in fields and people toasted to the trees with spiced cider. Young children went from house to house, giving gifts of clove spiked apples and oranges lain in baskets of evergreen bough and wheat stalks dusted with flour.
The apples represented the sun, the boughs weresymbols of immortality (because evergreen trees stayed alive all year round), the wheat stood for the harvest and the flour was an accomplishment of triumph, light, and life.
Holly and ivy decorated the outsides as well as the insides of homes, hoping that Sprites of Nature would join in on the festivities. A sprig of Holly was kept near the doors as a constant invitation for good luck and fortune to never pass them by. Mistletoe was hung as a decoration, representing the seed of the Divine, and at Midwinter, the Druids would travel deep into the wood to harvest it.
The lighting of the Yule log is the main event of the Solstice Festival. Following tradition, the log can never be bought, it must be cut from the householders property or given as a gift. The traditional wood that the Yule log derives from is an Ash tree. It is the sacred world tree of the Teutons, known as Yggdrasil. An herb of the Sun, Ash brings light into the hearth at the Solstice.
The Lighting Ceremony
Once the log is dragged into the home and placed into the fireplace, it is decorated in seasonal greenery, doused with cider or ale, and dusted with flour before set fire with a piece of the year before's log, kept for that purpose. The log would then burn all night, then left to to smolder for twelve days before being put out.
There is another type of Yule log, for more modern practices. One that is used as a base for three candles. To make one, you must find a smaller branch, about three inches thick and flatten one side so it set's upright. Then drill three holes that will be big enough to put candlesticks in. The colors can be:
Seasonal: Red, Green, White
The Sun God: Green, Gold, Black
The Great Goddess: White, Red, Black
Continue to decorate it with greenery, red and gold bows, rosebuds, cloves and a dusting of flour.
Some old traditions of Yule are seen in Christmas today, like a tree from an evergreen, even decorations of holly and mistletoe.