Brightly burns the Yule log tonight Magic dances in firelight Hold my hand and join the song Raise the Sun King bright and strong Dark is giving way to light As brightly burns the Yule log tonight! (Yule Chant Adapted by Akasha Ap Emrys)
History of Yule
One of the Lesser Sabbats. This is the Winter Solstice, the shortest day and Longest night of the year. The Goddess gives birth to the God as the reborn sun, and in many traditions it is celebrated just before dawn to welcome his arrival. Candles and bonfires are frequently lit to welcome his arrival. The returning light completes the cycle of life, death and rebirth. In many Wiccan traditions, Yule symbolizes the end of the reign of the waning year's Holly-King, who is now replaced by the Oak-King of the waning year (who rules until Summer Solstice).
This Sabbat represents the rebirth of light. Here, on the longest night of the year, the Goddess gives birth to the Sun God and hope for new light is reborn. Yule is a time of awakening to new goals and leaving old regrets behind.
Yule coincides closely with the Christian Christmas celebration. Christmas was once a movable feast celebrated many different times during the year. The choice of December 25 was made by the Pope Julius I in the fourth century AD because this coincided with the pagan rituals of Winter Solstice, or Return of the Sun. The intent was to replace the pagan celebration with the Christian one.
The Christian tradition of a Christmas tree has its origins in the Pagan Yule celebration. Pagan families would bring a live tree into the home so the wood spirits would have a place to keep warm during the cold winter months. Bells were hung in the limbs so you could tell when a spirit was present. Food and treats were hung on the branches for the spirits to eat and a five-pointed star, the pentagram, symbol of the five elements, was placed atop the tree.
The colors of the season, red and green, also are of Pagan origin, as is the custom of exchanging gifts. A solar festival, The reindeer stag is also a reminder of the Horned God. You will find that many traditional Christmas decorations have some type of Pagan ancestry or significance that can be added to your Yule holiday.
Yule is celebrated by fire and the use of a Yule log. Many enjoy the practice of lighting the Yule Log. If you choose to burn one, select a proper log of oak or pine (never Elder). Carve or chalk upon it a figure of the Sun (a rayed disc) or the Horned God (a horned circle). Set it alight in the fireplace at dusk, on Yule. This is a graphic representation of the rebirth of the God within the sacred fire of the Mother Goddess. As the log burns, visualize the Sun shining within it and think of the coming warmer days. Traditionally, a portion of the Yule Log is saved to be used in lighting next year's log. This piece is kept throughout the year to protect the home.
Lights, gift-exchanging, singing, feasting, resolutions, new fires kindled, strengthening family & friend bonds, generosity, Yule log, hanging mistletoe, apple wassailing, burning candles, Yule tree decorating; kissing under mistletoe; needfire at dawn vigil; bell ringing/sleigh-bells; father yule