The Snow Maiden
Howard David Johnson
Celebration of Yule
By Alaric Albertsson
Yule is often confused with the winter solstice, but the former is a season while the latter is a precise moment in time.
Yule begins with the Arra Geola moon, which grows full in late November or the first few weeks of December, and the season then continues for two lunar months.
For Saxon Pagans (as well as Pagans from many other paths), the celebration of the Yuletide usually does not actually begin until Mothers’ Night (the solstice) and continues for a week or two after this. I celebrate for twelve days, from Mothers’ Night to New Year’s Day, but I have been invited to Yule feasts held as late as mid-January. For that matter, I have attended Yule feasts that took place ten days or more before the solstice. And this was entirely appropriate, for Yule is a season.
I love Yule, partly because it is the most important holy tide in the Saxon sacral calendar, but also for the same reason that many non-Germanic Pagans love it. Wiccans have no reason to be exceptionally excited about the winter solstice, as it is a “minor sabbat” secondary to the big holidays like Beltane and Samhain. I have never known a Hellenic Pagan to make a big deal out of the Haloa, the December festival sacred to both Demeter and Dionysus, at least not more so than any other Greek festival. And yet Yule seems to have a special place in the hearts of most Pagans, regardless of their spiritual path, simply because it is so prevalent in our culture due to the influence of Christianity. The majority of first-generation Pagans (those of us who were raised by non-Pagan families) grew up in Christian households where we were introduced to Santa Claus, cinnamon cookies, eggnog, and jingle bells as children, and the oldest of us have passed these things on to our own children, the second- and third-generation Pagans of this century.
Although Pagans do not actually celebrate Christmas (as in “the birth of Christ”), we have no desire to relinquish the pleasantries of Christmas. Some Pagans claim that these traditions are ours, but any claim we may have to ownership is indirect at best.
While Christmas traditions may not literally be ours, the secular trappings of Christmas also have nothing to do with the birth of Jesus, and most of them suffer little or not at all when translated into a Pagan lifestyle. This is especially true for Pagans who follow Germanic paths, since so many of the Christmas customs we are familiar with originated in northern Europe. In my home we decorate a Yule tree each year. For us it represents the World Tree that connects all of the Seven Worlds. We enjoy munching on Yule cookies, and we have our favorite Yule songs. We do all of the secular things that our neighbors do, pretty much substituting the word Yule for the word Christmas.
Disclaimer* This does not necessarily reflect my views, just food for thought*
Have a Holiday Season
With Love Sent