The Winter Holidays, The Asatru Way
It is almost Yule! Are you guys as excited as I am? Just in case you need a little refresher, here is our Yule post from years past!
Yule and winter in general is my favorite time of year. From the festivities, to the attitudes of people, just to the plain climate and weather. I love it. But it is also important to remember that is is a very important time of year. Some would say even that Yule is the most important holiday of the year. Yule is a 12 night festival, yes 12, that celebrates many things. 1. The Winter Solstice, we all know how important solstices are. 2. The new year. 3. The return of Sunna and the sun. 4. It is a time to honor those ancestors who have passed to the world beyond. It is a general time of merriment and celebration. It is interesting that one can observe that each night of Yule can represent each of the 12 months of our calendar, and some celebrate each day in accordance with what is going on in the month that it represents.
The history of Yule: The history of Yule, as with most heathen and pagan festivals dates back into prehistory. Peoples around the world have been celebrating the winter solstice and the turning of the year for thousands, upon thousands of years. It has always been an important time. It was a time of sacrifice to honor Thor for fighting back the frost giants, to the ancestors for at this time the veil is thinnest. A time to celebrate for they knew that Ragnarok was not upon them. There was great feasting, and many rituals were performed. This went on every year for thousand of years. That is, until Christianity came. Now, I do not want to bash Christians here, but I will state the facts. As many of you know, between the fall of Rome to the end of the Viking Age, and well beyond those confines, Christianity spread like wild fire.
Sometimes, forcing their beliefs on others, and killing those who did not comply. As with many other holidays, they stole Yule, changed the name, and the course belief. But the date, and goals stayed the same. Christmas is now on December 25th (which is not when Jesus was born) right in the middle of our Yule. But most people have forgotten that Christmas has usurped Yule as the common winter holiday. Christmas, was once Yule, and for me, it is again. And that is about where we stand today, celebrating our holiday ourselves, and trying to teach others about it.
Yule starts on the Mother Night, which is generally either December 20 (in the northern hemisphere), and ends on December 31, new years. The second night is the winter solstice itself.
“Yule begins on Mother Night, (about Dec. 20) the night before the shortest day and the longest night (winter solstices). We honor the beginning of the Sun’s return and the breaking of Winter, (which is most noticeable in five days) and is celebrated over a twelve day period. We know there will be no Fimbulwinter which proceeds Ragnarok. It is a time of the year when our deceased Ancestors are closest to us; this is when the dead (draugar) are more active than any other time. Yule is when Jólnir another name for Odinn leads the procession of the Wild Hunt through the sky’s with sprits of humans, horses and dogs. This procession occurs during all twelve days of Yule.
It is a time for great feasting, honoring Thorr for driving back the frost etins, Frey to give us prosperity in the coming year, Odinn as leader of the Wild Hunt, and of course our Ancestors. Jólablót, have a Yule party with family and kindred. Decorate a tree with sunwheels and light a Yule Log.
The Yule Tree is the symbol of our cosmology; it’s the Great tree Yggdrasil. From the Voluspa;
“Yggdrasil its name. With water white is the Great Tree wet; Thence come the dews that fall in the dales. Green by Urths well does it ever grow.”
And so the evergreen tree is the most appropriate, to remind us of the eternity of Yggdrasil, as it last through out winters Ever Green.
The burning of a Yule Log is an ancient ritual; our ancestors kindled a huge oak log in honor of Thorr. Today we burn a smaller log during the Yule Season. When lighting the new Yule Log it should be with the charred remains of the previous year’s log, which is, keep to guard the house against lightning and fire.
Twelfth Night (about Jan. 1) culminates the traditional twelve days of Yule. Our Ancestors at this time consecrated a boar to Frey, led it out so everyone present could lay their hand on the boar and swear a solemn Oath. This was to honor Frey for prosperity. Oaths sworn on the Oath-Boar are very binding during this time, than any other time of the year. Make a New Year’s resolution in the old way by swearing your oath on Frey’s boar or on your hammer.
The Yule is no exception when it comes to christian plagiarism of other cultures Holidays. There is no doubt that the Yule Tree, Yule Log, the Singing and exchanging of Gifts are from our Northern Culture”- (1)
Some more information from another source:
“I’m sure we have all seen signs that remind us to “remember the reason for the season”. These signs are put up every Yuletide by well-meaning people who have forgotten that the season is the reason. Yule is celebrated because of winter, the darkest, coldest season.
Yule is a twelve night festival, starting on Mother Night, December 20. The following night is the winter solstice, the longest night of the year. As Yule continues, the days slowly begin the get longer, and the nights shorter. Yule ends on Twelfth Night, December 31.
Each of the days and nights of Yule can be viewed as a miniature of the months of the year. On Mother Night one can recount the past January and plan for the next January. On the second day of Yule, remember last February and look forward to next February. Continue this way ending with December on Twelfth Night.
During Yule, we honor Thorr for driving back the frost etins, Frey to give us prosperity in the coming year, Odinn as leader of the Wild Hunt, and our Ancestors. During Yule, we are closest to the dead. Death surrounds us, the dead flowers and plants that were so alive a few months ago. The trees all appear dead, except for the evergreens.
We decorate an evergreen tree with sun wheels, runes, items of food such as cranberries and popped corn, and bright pretty things, to remind us of the eternity of Yggdrasil, the World Tree, as it lasts throughout the winter’s Ever Green.
During the twelve nights of Yule, we burn a Yule log, give gifts, and feast (especially on ham and pork, which are sacred to Frey).
In days of old, our ancestors would swear their oaths for the coming year (remembered today as the weaker New Year’s resolutions) on the sacred boar on Twelfth Night. Now, it is our Kindred tradition to swear our oaths on a sun wheel and then toss it into the fire as a part of our yearly Yule party.
On Twelfth Night, we take down our Yule trees and pack up our Yule decorations for the year. This is the end of Yule and the old year. We save the trunk of the Yule tree for next year’s Yule Log. Now we turn our attention to making it through the rest of the winter, and the rest of the New Year.”-(2)
Yule is a time for family, the ancestors, ones close to you. It is a time of celebration, and coming together as the dark of winter takes its grip. Yule is a time for prayer, and staying inside, a time for quiet patience, waiting for the coming spring.
May you have a merry and happy Yule whenever you celebrate it!
3: My own knowledge
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