Varies between December 21st also known as winter solstice and is a Lesser Sabbat
The winter solstice is a time for festivities and for the bringing in of the evergreen into the house to show that the the new year will come.
Christmas celebrates the birth of Christ and Yule celebrates the birth of the sun god.
Yule is the shortest day of the year and the longest night. Those who celebrate Christmas will recognise many traditional Pagan Yule ways of celebrating. We decorate the home with boughs of holly and ivy. Signs of the presence of the God and birth even in the depths of winter. Colours of green and gold celebrate the return of the Sun God once more to the world.
Burn candles and if you have room, bonfires, as this is a solar festival, brought to the British Isles by the Saxons long ago.
One of the best ways to celebrate the Yule season is to decorate a Yule tree. This tradition seems to be the predated version of the Christmas tree. Many families choose to celebrate both Yule and Christmas, especially if they have a family of mixed practitioners. This can make an interesting tree, but it can be done.
The Yule tree can be decorated with lights and natural items as well as traditional Christmas bulbs and stars. They may also choose to add stars and Pagan symbols to the tree as well as these items. A good idea is to work with the children in the family to make natural decorations to add to the Christmas or Yule tree.
Make your own Yule Log
A different type of Yule log, and perhaps one more suitable for modern practitioners would be the type that is used as a base to hold three candles. Find a smaller branch of oak or pine, and flatten one side so it sets upright. Drill three holes in the top side to hold red, green, and white (season), green, gold, and black (the Sun God), or white, red, and black (the Great Goddess). Continue to decorate with greenery, red and gold bows, rosebuds, cloves, and dust with flour.
Decorate a tree inside or outside your home with festive baubles, stars/moons/suns crystals. Make sure you use lots of lights and candles (but don't leave candles unattended!) Last year we also put a tree with lights on outside the front door and I made a wreath from the holly and pine branches that we've brought back and we hung it on the door with a Yule Blessings banner on it.
String popcorn and cranberries for your tree, or hang the strings in your outdoor bushes as a treat for the birds and squirrels. We always leave special treats out for the birds and local wildlife at Yule, it's a celebration of nature to.
Bring as much greenery (holly, mistletoe, evergreens) into your home as you can to remind yourself that life goes on even in the darkest of times.
The wreath is a traditional Christmas decoration but is comprised of elements that have strong symbolism in Wicca. Make wreaths of your own and display them as a circular representation of the life cycle and in celebration of renewal and rebirth, one of Yule's meanings. Use traditional elements like rosemary and evergreen to represent the foliage of the season or be creative and add your own elements hang in your home and hang over doorways. They are said to bring good luck to anyone who passes under them.
On solstice night, turn out all the lights in your home (make sure you have a candle ready with matches). After dwelling on the dark for a few moments, light the candle and welcome the Light back into the world. If you wish, gather together a number of candles beforehand and light them all from the central candle (which should be gold or yellow). Then go through your house turning on every light.
Decorate a Yule log and burn it on the night of the solstice or the morning after. Be sure not to let it burn completely! Or make an edible log, and share it with your family, it's easier to buy one I know but the love and time you put into making the things you use and eat at any Sabbat helps to enrich it in my opinion.
Hold a candlelit vigil on the night of the solstice, and welcome the next morning's dawn with singing and chanting. Follow your rite with feasting, singing, dancing and merrymaking.
Adorn the home with sacred herbs and colours. Decorate your home in Druidic holiday colours red, green, and white. Place holly, ivy, evergreen boughs, and pine cones around your home, especially in areas where socializing takes place.
Hang a sprig of mistletoe above a major threshold and leave it there until next Yule as a charm for good luck throughout the year.
Have family/household members join together to make or purchase an evergreen wreath. Include holiday herbs in it and then place it on your front door to symbolize the continuity of life and the wheel of the year. If you choose to have a living or a harvested evergreen tree as part of your holiday decorations, call it a Solstice tree and decorate it with Pagan symbols.
On your altar you can have seasonal fruits and vegetables, pumpkins and squash, mushrooms and fungi spring to mind as well as apples and pears. They don't have to be fruits that you can eat; they can be sculptures, in pictures or little representations. Autumnal leaves are a superb addition, as are twigs and branches. Items that help you connect to the spirit world are also good. Photos of loved ones that have gone ahead to the Summerlands are excellent additions, and help you share your ritual and bring them closer. Colours to choose traditionally are oranges, reds, black, silver, gold and yellow.
Candles are crucial to this festival, since it is a celebration of light. Use red, green and white candles. Draping evergreens of all kinds can be used and you'll love the fragrances. Holly with its beautiful red berries is also a wonderful addition to your decoration. Use a Sun symbol as a reminder of the Sun's return. The Druids revered the white berries of the Mistletoe as the semen of the God, and this can also be placed on your altar, or hung in doorways for the traditional kissing beneath it. (chances are our ancestors did a bit more than kiss under this symbol of fertility) **remember that the berries of the mistletoe are highly poisonous, so be sure to keep them away from children and animals** Acorns, nuts, apples, cinnamon sticks and pomegranates are also appropriate for decorating your Yule altar.
Associated with Yule
Turkey, Cookies, Fruits, Nuts, Pork, Gingerbread people, Pears
DrinksCider, eggnog, Mulled wine
Symbols of Yule
Yule Log, Yule Tree, Candles, Wreaths, Mistletoe, Cinnamon sticks, Dried Flowers, Holly, Apples and Oranges, ivory, mistletoe, pine cones, bells, evergreens
Herbs of Yule
Holly, Mistletoe, Oak, Rosemary, Pine, Evergreen, Blessed Thistle, Laurel, Sage
Incense of YuleCinnamon, Pine, Apple Spice, Bayberry, Cedar, Rosemary, Juniper
Flowers of YulePoinsettia, holly, mistletoe, evergreens
Colours of YuleRed, Green, White, Silver, Gold
Stones of YuleRubies, bloodstones, garnets, emeralds, diamonds.
Altar candles for YuleDark red, Green,
Spells for YulePeace, New Beginnings, Harmony, Love, Happiness, Prosperity
Oils for YuleRosemary, myrrh, nutmeg, saffron, cedar/pine, wintergreen, ginger, bayberry.