Celebrate the Yuletide Season
Yule, also referred to as Yuletide, winter solstice, and Christmas, is a solar festival of pagan origin that marks the time when the days grow longer and the nights grow shorter.
This page is a collection of information, recipes, customs, traditions, legends, and crafts in celebration of the Yuletide season. Source of information is cited when known.
"A bayberry candle burned to the socket brings food to the larder and gold to the pocket."
Yule, also referred to as Yuletide, winter
solstice, and Christmas, is a solar festival of pagan origin that marks the
time when the days grow longer and the nights grow shorter. Yule begins on the
Mother night and ends 12 days later; hence, the origin of the 12 days of
Christmas. On this day, the Holly King, who is the ruler of the waning year,
is overcome by the Oak King, who will rule the throne from Yule to Litha
(midsummer). Yule is a time when family togetherness and love are celebrated,
and when accomplishments of the past year are acknowledged and celebrated.
As a solar festival, Yule is celebrated by fire and the use of the Yule log. Seasonal colors associated with Yule are, not surprisingly, red and green. Red represents the menstrual blood of the female, while green represents the fertility of the growing season. Colors and yule logs are not the only things adopted by Christians as tradition, however. Delectable pastries, fancy breads, and wreaths made of holly are all customarily Pagan.
Vintage Danish Yuletide Card, 1918
Available at the Ju Ju Shoppe.
Colors: golds, reds, yellows, silvers, greens, whites, blues.
The Sun is represented in wheels in decoration to signify the circle of creation and the Wheel of the Year (wreaths, strung cranberries, kissing balls, suns).
Winter symbols: icicles & snowflakes.
Reindeer figures represent the Horned God and the Goddess Freyja.
Bacchus head figures featured during the Roman Saturnalia are other ideas for home and tree.
The Yule Tree should be consecrated to the Lord and Lady of Yule.
Splash with salted water
Walk around the tree with a lighted candle and say:
A Christmas Card showing a young girl waking up on Christmas morning. Originally printed in Berlin, Germany, with English text. Used in Iceland, Christmas 1914.
Sending a note card is the perfect way to express yourself anytime. Let your friends and family know you care, whether you're marking a special occasion or just keeping in touch. A personal note on a beautiful card will make a lasting impression and a touching keepsake.
Available at the Ju Ju Shoppe.
Winter Meditation Incense
Twelve Herb Yule Sachet
Christmas Card showing a typical Scandinavian "Nisse",
When the water comes to a boil, stir in the rice and cook for 10 minutes. Add the milk to the pot and cook over a low heat for 1 hour. Add the raisins in the last 10 minutes. Add salt to taste. Add milk, sugar, and cinnamon to taste. The skinned almond is added and the porridge poured into a bowl. The housewife deals portions out and whoever finds the almond receives a small gift.
Heat the milk just to the boiling point. Sift the flour together with the hartshorn and the salt. The milk is stirred into the flour mixture and the whole is kneaded into a glistening, rather tough dough, then formed into a long roll. Cut the roll into pieces and roll out very thin. This is best done on a well-floured pastry cloth. The bread is formed with a round dish and then decorated. As each piece is completed, place between linen towels to prevent drying. Just before cooking, prick with a fork, being careful not to disturb the design. Deep fry on high heat, decorated side down, until golden-brown. Serve with butter or margarine.
Vintage German Greeting Cards (Pk of 10)
A German Christmas Card showing a young girl with an evergreen twig, and a sled with presents. Used in Iceland, Christmas 1912.
Sending a note card is the perfect way to express yourself anytime. Let your friends and family know you care, whether you're marking a special occasion or just keeping in touch. A personal note on a beautiful card will make a lasting impression and a touching keepsake. Available at the Ju Ju Shoppe.
Yule Goddess Doll
4 Yuletide Potpourri Blends
Winter White Potpourri
1 Tb. dry orange peel
Yuletide Owl Greeting Cards (10 Pk)
Yule Tree Jar
This is a fun gift for a teacher or scout leader. Mix one cup cocoa powder, one cup dry milk, and one cup dry coffee creamer in a bowl. (Add more proportionally if you’re making a big batch.) You can use flavored coffee creamer if it’s something that tastes good with cocoa. If your brand of instant hot chocolate already has milk mixed into it, forgo the powdered milk and creamer. Add a few tablespoons of sugar, chocolate sprinkles, dry mini-marshmallows, and tiny peppermint candies. Mix well. Spoon the mixture into a zippered sandwich bag with Yule-themed decorations printed on the plastic. Stick a bow onto each bag. Viola, instant Yule presents.
Vintage Icelandic Christmas Note Cards (10 Pk)
The original recipe includes alcohol, but you can make this beverage for kids and teetotaling adults using apple cider, red grape juice, orange juice, cinnamon, ground cloves (just a pinch) and ground nutmeg. You may wish to put the spices into a cloth bag and let it steep. Or push whole cloves into the skin of an orange, and let it float in a punch bowl. Experiment with proportions. Some folks like cranberry juice or allspice in the mix. This is a festive punch for a Sabbat party.
This is a genuinely older Pagan tradition, probably brought to England by the Saxons. If you don’t have a fireplace, you can create a symbolic Yule Log for ritual or for your Solstice dinner table.
Materials: a large dry log, bark removed, electric drill with a wide-boring drill bit, votive candles in metal holders, cloth holly leaves, ribbon, pinecones, other decorations.
Method: With parents’ supervision, drill three holes a few inches apart in the top of the log, large enough to fit the votive candles. Place the candles in the holes. Decorate around the outside of the log with ribbon, holly, pinecones and anything else that looks festive. You can use all one color – gold is lovely – or mix two or three colors. If you plan on using your log year after year, you may wish to paint it and glue the decorations on permanently. Caution: Make sure flammable decorations are far enough from the candle flames to be safe. Keep it out of reach of toddlers and pets. If you want to re-use your log as a bird feeder, screw a large eye-bolt into one end to hang it, drill more holes, and fill the holes with suet, peanut butter and seeds.
The oldest written sources on the Yule Cat are from the Nineteenth Century. These refer to the fact that those who do not get a new item of clothing for Yule are destined to become offerings for the Yule Cat. It may sound strange that the deprived ones will also become the sacrifices, but this tradition is based on the fact that every effort was made to finish all work with the Autumn wool before Yule. The reward for those who took part in the work was a new piece of clothing. Those who were lazy received nothing. Thus the Yule Cat was used as an incentive to get people to work harder.
A woman describes a scene from her youth in the last century thus: "We were lazy doing this chore. Then we were reminded of the Yule Cat. We thought that was some terrible beast and the last thing we wanted was to be one of his offers".
One of Iceland's most beloved poets in this century, Jóhannes úr Kötlum, wrote a lay about the Yule Cat. It follows in the translation of Vignir Jónsson, who says: "You'll have to forgive me but I didn't make it rhyme - I'm not much of a poet."
You all know the Yule Cat
He opened his glaring eyes wide,
His whiskers, sharp as bristles,
He gave a wave of his strong tail,
He roamed at large, hungry and evil
If one heard a pitiful "meow"
He picked on the very poor
From them he took in one fell swoop
Hence it was that the women
Because you mustn't let the Cat
And when the lights came on, on Yule Eve
Some had gotten an apron
For all who got something new to wear
Whether he still exists I do not know.
Now you might be thinking of helping
Perhaps searching for those
The Jólasveinar start arriving in town on the morning of December 12th. Remember
to place a shoe on your virtual windowsill before that, as they will leave a
small cyber-gift for children who have been good, a small toy or fruit, for
example, and those children who have been naughty will receive something they
will not like too much.
Jólasveinar first appeared in the 17th century as the sons of Grýla and Leppalúđi, two trolls who themselves had appeared in the 13th century and had earned a reputation for stealing and eating naughty children.
Picture by Halldor Petursson from 1968
The Jólasveinar were tallied at either nine or thirteen, but their names are at least 70.
Thirteen of the most commonly accepted names of the Jólasveinar are:
Stekkjarstaur - Gimpy
A few of the other names used for the Jólasveinar follow, along with English translations. Their names are descriptive of their natures.
Baggi - Bundle
As can be seen from the names, the Jólasveinar are thought of as playful imps whose main interest seems to be getting their hands on some of the seasonal food and other goodies, or lurking about trying to do some minor mischief.
When they first appeared the Jólasveinar had many of the attributes of their parents but soon started to seem milder. In the last century they gained some of the attributes of their Nordic counterparts, and in this century have become homegrown versions of St. Nick or Santa Clauses.
The Jólasveinar live in the mountains and start to arrive in town, one a day, thirteen days before Christmas Eve with the last one arriving that morning. They leave little presents for the children in shoes the children have placed on the windowsill the night before. If the children have been naughty, they leave a potato or some other reminder that good behaviour is better. They start departing for home again on Christmas Day, with the last one departing on Ţrettándinn.
At first the clothing of the Jólasveinar was just the ordinary, every-day wear of the common Icelander. In this century they have taken to wearing the traditional red suits of St. Nick or Santa Claus. In the last few years there has been a revival of the old style clothing.
Grýla and Leppalúđi
This pair of child-eating, bloodthirsty ogres are the supposed parents of the Jólasveinar. The dominant member in the relationship is Grýla, who according to some sources had another husband before Leppalúđi. His name was Boli. Boli, and later Leppalúđi, were bedridden and Grýla went around the countryside begging to support her husbands. At Christmas time she stole children who had been naughty during the year. Through the centuries Grýla has been a very popular means of making children behave. There are numerous lays and stories about Grýla and her exploits, but she never really gets her hands on the children. Either they have been very well behaved throughout the year or they manage to escape.
This is not a creamy milk-based dessert pudding;
instead, this is a traditional English dinner pudding. You’ll need about a loaf
of stale bread, three eggs, a half cup of heavy cream, a quarter cup of brown
sugar, and spices such as cinnamon, ground cloves, ground nutmeg, allspice,
mace, and ginger. Pick two spices, and use no more than a quarter teaspoon of
each. You will also need some trinkets such as small toy cars, rings, large
coins like half-dollars, or other prizes. Grease a quart baking dish. Tear the
bread into small pieces – children really enjoy doing this. Beat the eggs until
stiff. Fold in the heavy cream and add the sugar and spices. Place the bread
into the baking dish, pour the wet mixture over it. Now comes the fun part. Hide
the prizes in the pudding. Let the kids push them down into the gooey bread,
then cover them over. Bake your pudding in the oven for about 20 minutes at 350
degrees Fahrenheit, checking it frequently*. The top should be golden brown and
an inserted toothpick should come out clean. Serve hot, with butter and whipped
cream. Caution: WARN people about the prizes, so that nobody chokes on them! You
might want to make a separate pudding for toddlers, or use prizes that aren’t
small enough to swallow. The coins represent money, the cars mean a journey, and
the rings signify love.
Merry Old Santa Claus, Thomas Nast
Wood engraving published in Harper's Weekly newspaper, January 1, 1881
This site is © Copyright Mystic Voodoo 2010, All rights reserved.