I have been in a time of reflection, turning in, if you will. The main question I have been mulling over is this, “How do I want to live my life?”. Sounds simple enough, right? Well it’s not. It is a very BIG question; and not one that I can find a definitive answer for. You may recall a month or two ago me talking about intentional living. Well, that was the start of it all. Truly, this isn’t a new idea for me; it’s just one I’ve forgotten many times (or walked away from because it is not an easy way to live). Over and over again in my life I have felt compelled to live in harmony with (if not in reverence of) nature. This path, however, is not one that works easily in modern life. Cooking from scratch, making instead of buying, growing things, Salvaging things, celebrating nature, seeing value in not being a consumer of new; these are not typical American 21st century values. They are the things I feel, in my core, to be of value. In truth, it’s so easy to slip back into old habits (buying processed foods, in particular, is a trap I fall into). However, I digress…this post is about Yule, or Winter Solstice (whatever you prefer).
I have loved Christmas time since childhood. The lights! The trees! The treats and music!What’s not to like? Well, for me, the only part of Christmas that doesn’t right true is the religious aspect of it. Over the years, I’ve watched many documentaries, read a few books and had some wonderful conversations around the religious aspects of many holidays. You may know, most of our traditional holidays harken far back into history are found to have ties to Pagan traditions. Yule is not exceptions. Around December 22nd the Winter Solstice occurs (the longest night of the year). I think the dark, the cold and the lack of fresh food created a need in people to find joy, to pray for the light to return, and to stuff their bellies with much needed food. I’m no historian, and clearly not an expert; just trying to share what I’ve learned. 🙂 To me, this makes so much sense and rings very true in my head and heart. These are things I can celebrate and have reverence for. So, this year, our family will be celebrating our very first official Yule. I am very excited!
Typically, people would have a Yule log in their homes to burn for 12 days and 12 nights in celebration. We, sadly, do not have a fireplace. Despite my seeking out a Yule log to just have in our home, I have come up empty handed. So, we shall burn candles instead. One day, on our farm, I will bring this tradition to life (but first we need to get the farm!).
I have read about many traditions and have selected just a few for this first Winter Solstice. I plan to make Wassail (of a cider variety), walk through our amazing local park to feed the wild animals and forage for twigs to make crowns with, bake fresh bread and make a grand dinner, sing songs and ring bells with the kids and finish it off by reading them the following poem:
“So the shortest day came, and the year died,
And everywhere down the centuries of the snow-white world
Came people singing, dancing,
To drive the dark away.
They lighted candles in the winter trees;
They hung their homes with evergreen;
They burned beseeching fires all night long
To keep the year alive,
And when the new year’s sunshine blazed awake
They shouted, reveling.
Through all the frosty ages you can hear them
Echoing behind us – Listen!!
All the long echoes sing the same delight,
This shortest day,
As promise wakens in the sleeping land:
They carol, fest, give thanks,
And dearly love their friends,
And hope for peace.
And so do we, here, now,
This year and every year.
– Susan Cooper, The Shortest Day
I made these stars from the branches of our Thankful Tree a few weeks ago. They now hang in our entry way as a Winter Solstice decoration (thought I may just leave them forever!). For the record, if you do not know, the points on a star (or pentacle for that matter) represent the Earth, Air, Fire, Water and Spirit. It’s really very simple and beautiful.
Assuming I’m diligent this weekend, I hope to have photos and a follow up to this post some time next week. However…I may be too busy enjoying myself. Guess we’ll just see. ❤