Yule is when the god is reborn from the virgin goddess. The goddess turns once more into her youthful form, as the young virgin mother. At Yule the goddess is the new mother and the god is her child.
Yule is also the Winter Solstice, the longest night of the year. In early human history, people feared that the sun would not reappear without help. With this belief began the custom of lighting candles and fires to lure back the sun. It was believed that this ritual would help the god to be reborn from the goddess, by helping the goddess to have an easy delivery.
Evergreen trees are associated with the Yule season. Our ancestors revered evergreens. Why? Evergreens were seen as proof of everlasting life. They saw that evergreen trees were the one source of life that continued to live and stay green throughout the year. Even in the deepest winter. They didn’t die with the rest of the plants during the cold months. They were special. Beginning with the Celtic Druids of central Europe during the Late Bronze Age, evergreens became sacred due to their representation of everlasting life.
The people of the day brought evergreens into their homes and decorated them with small gifts to the god and goddess. Candles were placed on the bows of the trees (I do not recommend this due to fire hazard). This is where Yule trees come from, and, incidentally, where the Christian’s get their Christmas tree. The Yule tree was so popular that the Church couldn’t stamp out the practice. The rest is history.
For Wiccans, Yule logs are another nice custom of at Yule. The pagans of northern Europe began the custom of cutting off a piece of a Yule tree (usually an oak tree) to save for a ritual the following year. For the ritual, people would gather on a hillside for a sacred bonfire and celebration. Afterward, they brought home a lit branch from the bonfire to light their fires at home, which had all been extinguished prior to the sacred gathering. They would then light their last years Yule log in their fireplace to bless their home. This tradition continues today.
At Yule celebrations, we gather with our loved ones to enjoy the merriment of the Sabbat with food and drink. We open gifts and sing songs about the god’s return.
(Note that those without fireplaces can drill holes into the top of a Yule log and burn candles. Commercially made Yule logs with candleholders are also available.)
Blessing Baskets are a great tradition I’m starting up for this Yule. A Blessing Basket consists of a small basket that you hang on the Yule tree. Place the Blessing Basket somewhere special and prominent on the tree. What do you put inside the Blessings Basket? Small treats like candies and such, plus a small gift. Most important, include a piece of paper inscribed with a blessing of good fortune.
How to make a Blessing Basket
What you will need:
Putting it together:
1) Take the basket and decorate it in whichever fashion you like, keeping the inside empty, here mine is already decorated.
2) Take the tissue paper and lay it flat on the table.
3) Place candy and goodies on the tissue paper.
4) Place the slip of paper inscribed with the fortune and a small gift in the middle of the tissue paper.
5) Gather corners of the tissue paper and bunch the corners together.
6) Use ribbon to tie up the bundle.
7) Place inside the basket.
8) Make a loop to hang your Blessing Basket on your Yule tree.
On Yule each person picks a basket that they did not assemble. The person reads their blessing of good fortune which brightens their Yule season.