I am, admittedly, not the most devout and practicing Pagan, aside from Samhain, which has always been my favorite holy day. But today marks the Winter Solstice, the start of the twelve days of Yule.
I’ve always loved a good fire, and in ancient tradition, the Yule fire burned for twelve days. This can be looked at as a sort of sympathetic magic, meant to encourage the sun to move forward and lengthen the days because, on the Winter Solstice, the Celts (and others) believed that the sun stood still.
From the Summer Solstice, the days grow shorter until we reach the Winter Solstice. This is the dark time of the year, but from this day forward, the days grow longer and the nights shorter until we complete the cycle at the Summer Solstice.
The Yule log isn’t the only sympathetic magic we engage in at this time of year. Those lights we hang on our trees, porches, eaves…that all started the same way. Drive out the dark, entice the sun to return. And that feast? Back in our pre-Christian, pre-electricity days, we had to squirrel away food from the harvest to get us through the winter, but by Yule, we know the spring is coming, and with it, the earth will once again bear fruit. So we eat heartily as a way of trusting that we will plant again and harvest again.
I don’t want this to turn into a diatribe about stolen traditions…or even stripping those traditions of their original meaning/purpose. I want to celebrate, because gods know this year could use a little celebration.
I don’t have a fireplace, but if I did, there would be a fire burning in it. Instead, I will light candles and wish for spring.
Whether you celebrate Yule, Christmas, Hannukah, or some other holiday this time of year, I hope it brings you joy, the comfort of home, the love of family, and blessings for the coming days, Readers.