How to Celebrate Yule on the Winter Solstice

·3-min read
Photo credit: Aitor Diago - Getty Images
Photo credit: Aitor Diago - Getty Images

Ready to party? The pagan celebration of the winter solstice is known as Yule, and it's one of the oldest winter celebrations in the world. It simultaneously celebrates the shortest day of the year, midwinter, the return of the Sun, and a festival of rebirth. This year, it occurs from December 21, 2021 to January 1, 2022.

Physically, Yule marks the point at the Sun begins to return to us—aka when the days begin to lengthen again. But the winter solstice is the darkest day of the year, so Yule is both a time of reflection and celebration.

This festival has been on the calendar for centuries. In pagan times, the Druids would give mistletoe, which commonly grows on oak trees, as a blessing to symbolize life. The Yule log also dates back to this time. The Celts thought the Sun stood still for 12 days during the darkest time of the year, and they would light logs to keep away evil and welcome in good fortune. If you think this all sounds kind of familiar, that's because when Christianity spread throughout Europe, many pagan winter solstice traditions were incorporated into Christmas celebrations.

As the outside world is at its darkest and the nights at their longest, Yule gives space for our inner realms to expand and come forth. It is a time to bring in new visions and ideas, make resolutions for the year ahead, and dream bold dreams.

How to Celebrate Yule

Make An Evergreen Wreath

Make a wreath of evergreens (like yew, holly, pine, mistletoe, and ivy) to represent everlasting life, protection, and prosperity. Or go bigger and make a solstice bush by pushing the stalks of these plants into a pot of damp soil. Why these plants? Besides being seasonal, tghe yew tree is associated with eternity and reincarnation, holly and ivy ward off negative energy, pine has healing magic, and mistletoe brings fertility and abundance.

Light A Yule Log

Decorate an oak log with pinecones, dried berries, cinnamon sticks, holly, and mistletoe, and place it in your fireplace, if you have one—or have a bonfire in a fire pit outside. Yule log burning is a symbolic ritual to release the past and banish old or negative energy that you don’t wish to follow you into the new year. It's also the way to welcome back the Sun and celebrate that fact the days are going to get lighter and longer from now on. Don't have a fireplace or fire pit? Put on a video like Netflix’s Fireplace For Your Home instead!

Have A Yule Feast

Feasting has always been a winter solstice tradition, with people gathering together to celebrate life in the darkness, connect with others, and feel safe. Serve up a traditional feast, or just make your favorite foods, with bonus points if they incorporate local winter produce. Bonus: Bring along possessions you no longer want, wrap them up, and leave a pile of surprises on the floor for everyone to choose something from.

Do A Wishing Ritual

Think about your resolutions and intentions for the coming year. Light a candle and speak your resolutions out loud, and then sit with the candle and let it burn down as you visualize your ambitions coming true. Imagine the positive rewards, daydream about living this new lifestyle, and then write down your next steps for making this a reality.

Declutter Your Space

Yule is a release of the old to get ready for the new, so it's the perfect time to have a clear-out at home. When you’ve completed the physical process, spiritually cleanse your home—I like smoke cleansing with plants like pine needles and mistletoe.

Treat Yourself To A Nature-Based Treat

I mean, any excuse, right? It could be a naturally scented candle, a door wreath, a new crystal, a plant or some seeds, or a delicious pie or cake. Think about shopping sustainably this season, and consciously try to switch to recycled or sustainably sourced goods and products. Show some gratitude to Mother Nature!

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