Yule is very much about family traditions no matter what religion you follow, so if you are reading these words, then enjoy one of your family's long time traditions, and start a new that you can pass on through the years to your children and grandchildren. Above all, enjoy this Yule season safely please. Eat, drink, and be merry! But, have a designated driver.
At first, burning a Yule log was a celebration of the winter solstice. In Scandinavia, Yule ran from several weeks before the winter solstice to a couple weeks after. This was the darkest time of year, and the people celebrated because days would start getting longer after the solstice. There was quite a bit of ritual and ceremony tied to the Yule log, for it marked the sun's rebirth from its southern reaches. The Yule log gets its name from the Scandinavian tradition, but the ritual burning of a special log during winter solstice took place as far west as Ireland, as far south as Greece, and as far north as Siberia.
Children were escorted from house to house with gifts of clove spiked apples and oranges which were laid in baskets of evergreen boughs and wheat stalks dusted with flour. The apples and oranges represented the sun, the boughs were symbolic of immortality, the wheat stalks portrayed the harvest, and the flour was accomplishment of triumph, light, and life. Holly, mistletoe, and ivy not only decorated the outside, but also the inside of homes. It was to extend invitation to Nature Sprites to come and join the celebration. A sprig of Holly was kept near the door all year long as a constant invitation for good fortune to pay visit to the residents.
Yule is pronounced EWE-elle. It is also known as Solstice Night or Yule-tide. It is celebrated on the longest night of the year, December 21. According to Celtic myth, the rebirth of the Oak King comes on Yule. The Holly King is the ruler of the waning year, presiding over the world from Midsummer to Yule, as the nights get longer and the days begin to shorten. He represents death and darkness. Then, on the day of the Winter Solstice, the Oak King rises up to reclaim his throne from the Holly King, and will reign once more from Yule to Litha.
In some Wiccan traditions, the Oak King and the Holly King are seen as dual aspects of the Horned God. Each of these twin aspects rules for half the year, battles for the favor of the Goddess, and then retires to nurse his wounds for the next six months, until it is time for him to reign once more.
Often, these two entities are portrayed in familiar ways - the Holly King frequently appears as a woodsy version of Santa Claus. He dresses in red, wears a sprig of holly in his tangled hair, and is sometimes depicted driving a team of eight stags. The Oak King is portrayed as a fertility god, and occasionally appears as the Green Man or other lord of the forest.
All Sabbats * Imbolc