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March 5th, 2009, 11:08 AM
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roving_gypsy roving_gypsy is offline
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~~From Gypsy ~~

ETA: "The Pagan celebration of Winter Solstice (also known as Yule) is one of the oldest winter celebrations in the world.

Ancient people were hunters and spent most of their time outdoors. The seasons and weather played a very important part in their lives. Because of this many ancient people had a great reverence for, and even worshipped the sun. The Norsemen of Northern Europe saw the sun as a wheel that changed the seasons. It was from the word for this wheel, houl, that the word yule is thought to have come. At mid-winter the Norsemen lit bonfires, told stories and drank sweet ale.

The ancient Romans also held a festival to celebrate the rebirth of the year. Saturnalia ran for seven days from the 17th of December. It was a time when the ordinary rules were turned upside down. Men dressed as women and masters dressed as servants. The festival also involved decorating houses with greenery, lighting candles, holding processions and giving presents.

~ I remember a book I had when I was a child which had a chapter about something similar to this. One of the servants of the house would be the "Lord of Misrule" for the "the twelve days of Christmas" or for however long the head of house would allow it! This is back in British history as well as other European cultures. From this type of merry-making comes traditions we still have such as pantomimes, masquerade balls, and of course the carol "The Twelve Days of Christmas" - because of course Yule, a Pagan festival, was adopted by Christians as the time of year to celebrate the birth of Christ.

The Winter Solstice falls on the shortest day of the year (21st December) and was celebrated in Britain long before the arrival of Christianity. The Druids (Celtic priests) would cut the mistletoe that grew on the oak tree and give it as a blessing. Oaks were seen as sacred and the winter fruit of the mistletoe was a symbol of life in the dark winter months.

It was also the Druids who began the tradition of the yule log. The Celts thought that the sun stood still for twelve days in the middle of winter and during this time a log was lit to conquer the darkness, banish evil spirits and bring luck for the coming year."

~ This is interesting. When I have my own house I will decorate it mostly with mistletoe, holly wreaths etc as well as of course a Christmas tree.

~ The only other thing I can think of that goes along with the celebration of Yule (and Christmas, in years gone by) is the tradition of wassailing. 'Wassail' was a drink, rather like punch, using ingredients such as hot ale, apples and spices - a bit like mulled wine today I suppose. This would be offered to or carried by the 'wassailers' - people who would go from door to door singing seasonal songs and general well wishes for everyone in the households they visited. 'Wassail' comes from the Old English term 'waes hael' meaning "be well".

Magickally, I would say that Yule is a time for seeing out the old and heralding in the new. The last two weeks of December represent this for me. So it's a good time to write down things that no longer serve you and symbolically bury or burn the paper, to burn a black candle to release negativity from your environment, to cut cords, to pray for healing. And a good time to burn a white candle for hope of blessings in the new year to come, and for making wishes as well as resolutions! Any new start is a powerful thing, but the new start that comes with the Yuletide season packs the biggest punch of all.

~ from BBC Religion & Ethics - it was almost perfect as it was!

~ From me!

Last edited by roving_gypsy; November 5th, 2009 at 01:40 PM.
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