Yule is the traditional, pre-Christian (pagan) European winter holiday celebrated at the winter solstice, which falls on December 21st in the Northern hemisphere and was celebrated as the nativity of the sun with the annual return of the light from the sky.
The Winter Solstice is the shortest day of the year, after which the days grow increasingly longer. Our forebears celebrated the return of the sun by feating, lighting fires, chanting, and singing. Some suspect the origin of the word "yule" to be derived from the ancient Norse word for wheel, signifying the turn of the seasons.
In Germanic times the Evergreen and Fir Tree were symbols of prosperity and everlasting life and health. As the nights grew longer and the days grew colder, people would cut one of these trees down and bring them inside.
This was to bring prosperity and health to the household. But it served another purpose also. They believed that with the tree, faeries, elves, nymphs and wood sprites would come too. The people hoped these little Fey folke would bless the house for the kindness of the warmth and care given to them.
The boughs of the tree were decorated with candles to symbolize the Sun King. Cranberries and popcorn were strung around the tree not only as a celebration, but to also provide food for the Fey Folke.
Stars were placed on the top of the tree to represent the sky and the Holly King but also so the Fey Folke wouldn't long for the outside.
It wasn't until Cristianity came along and changed the supposed birthdate of Jesus Christ from June to December - in order to bring Pagans into the church as well as forever desecrate a sacred sabbat in the name of a "god" - that an angel was placed on top.
With the lie and the change of a birthdate Yule became known as Christmas - from the words Christ's Mass - and so the date of the birth of Christ was forced upon the world by a bloodthirsty religion looking for converts - and really, at that time, what religion wasn't bloodthirsty and wasn't looking for converts?
SOME ANCIENT YULE FEASTS:
ANCIENT EGYPT: The god-man/savior Osiris died and was entombed on December 21. "At midnight, the priests emerged from an inner shrine crying 'The Virgin has brought forth! The light is waxing" and showing the image of a baby to the worshipers."
ANCIENT GREECE: The winter solstice ritual was called Lenaea, the festival of the Wild Women. In very ancient times, a man representing the harvest god Dionysos was torn to pieces and eaten by a gang of women on this day. Later in the ritual, Dionysos would be reborn as a baby. By classical times, the human sacrifice had been replaced by the killing of a goat. Tonight it is the Gingerbread man. The women's role had changed to that of funeral mourners and observers of the birth.
ANCIENT ROME: Saturnalia began as a feast day for Saturn (December 17) and of Ops (December 19). About 50 BCE, both were later converted into two-day celebrations. During the Empire, the festivals were combined to cover a full week: December 17 - 23. The Priests would shave a piece of their scrotums and run through the streets throwing the pieces through windows. This was considered lucky and prosperous if you were to receive a piece.
DRUIDISM/KELTIC: Druids and Druidesses formed the professional class in ancient Celtic society. They performed the functions of modern day priests, teachers, ambassadors, astronomers, genealogists, philosophers, musicians, theologians, scientists, poets and judges. Druids led all public rituals, which were normally held within fenced groves of sacred trees. The solstice is the time of the death of the old sun and the birth of the dark-half of the year. It was called "Alban Arthuan" by the ancient Druids. It is the end of month of the Elder Tree and the start of the month of the Birch. The three days before Yule is a magical time. This is the time of the Serpent Days or transformation...The Elder and Birch stand at the entrance to Annwn or Celtic underworld where all life was formed. Like several other myths they guard the entrance to the underworld. This is the
time the Sun God journey's thru the underworld to learn the secrets of death and life. And bring out those souls to be reincarnated.
© 2006 by Digital Dogs