Thursday, December 21, 2006

TT #21: Yule

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Thirteen facts about Yule

  • Yule is celebrated on the 21st of december: today!
  • Yule is a turning point in nature: the shortest day and the longest night. After Yule the days become longer again.
  • At Yule we celebrate the return of the light. The God (the sun) is reborn. Fires and candles are lit to encourage the light to become stronger and stronger.
  • Yule means "wheel", which refers to the Wheel of the Year: the cycle of the 8 witches' sabbaths. The wheel starts at Yule.
  • Other names are: Midwinter, Winter Solstice, Winter Equinox, Alban Arthan, Finn’s Day, Joel.
  • The colours of Yule are: red (fire), green (nature), white (light), gold (God, sun), silver (Goddess).
  • The Yule tree is decorated with all natural material: fir cones, berries, straw figures, etc. In earlier times the tree was burnt as an offering to the Sun, the God. Now we put lights in the tree instead.
  • The Yule log is a large log of freshly cut wood (oak). Originally, the Yule Log was burned in honour of the gods and to bring good luck in the coming year. To help kindle the fire, holly was placed under the log. Guests would toss a sprig of holly into the fire to burn up the troubles of the past year and to keep their houses safe from burning down in the New Year. The ashes were scattered over the land to give them fertility for a good harvest. Each year a piece of the Yule Log was saved and used to start the fire for the next year's log. Pagans today use the Yule Log in a symbolic way to do the same.
  • Yule was a time to eat and drink all the remains of the harvest that were liable to decay. This feast was shared with the whole family. The rich often shared with the poor because there was enough for everyone.
  • The explanation of kissing under the mistletoe extends back into Norse mythology. The Norse god Balder was the best loved of all the gods. His mother was Frigga, goddess of love and beauty. She loved her son so much that she wanted to make sure no harm would come to him. So she went through the world, securing promises from everything that sprang from the four elements (fire, water, air, and earth) that they would not harm her beloved Balder. Leave it to Loki, a sly, evil spirit, to find the loophole. The loophole was mistletoe. He made an arrow from its wood. To make the prank even nastier, he took the arrow to Hoder, Balder's brother, who was blind. Guiding Holder's hand, Loki directed the arrow at Balder's heart, and he fell dead. Frigga's tears became the mistletoe's white berries. Balder is restored to life, and Frigga is so grateful that she reverses the reputation of the offending plant, making it a symbol of love and promising to bestow a kiss upon anyone who passes under it.
  • Yule is also a festival, not just a single holiday. The Yule season or Yuletide begins on the solstice, which is the Mother Night of Yule, and ends 12 nights later with Twelfth Night/New Years.
  • The Horned God is represented by a stag. That's where our present reindeers come from.
  • Drinking Wassail at Yule is an English custom from heathen times. 'Wassail' comes from the Anglo-Saxon Wes Hal, meaning "to your health". The beverage is made from ale, wine, and/or cider with fruits and spices added. Traditionally it was used in part as an offering to apple trees in thanks and for their continued fruitfulness. Bits of toast were floated in the wassail bowl, then placed in the branches of the tree, and libations poured over the roots. (This is the origin of our term "to toast" someone.)
Links to other Thursday Thirteens!

The purpose of the meme is to get to know everyone who participates a little bit better every Thursday. Visiting fellow Thirteeners is encouraged! If you participate, leave the link to your Thirteen in others comments. It’s easy, and fun! Be sure to update your Thirteen with links that are left for you, as well! I will link to everyone who participates and leaves a link to their 13 things. Trackbacks, pings, comment links accepted!


  1. Thats a neat TT! Thanks for sharing some new info for us

  2. I enjoyed all the information you shared, thank you.

  3. Oh, I love this! Seeing how all the traditions evolved is just fascinating. Thanks!

  4. Very interesting!! Thanks for dropping by mine and happy TT!

  5. Interesting list. :) Thanks for sharing. I knew a bit about Yule, but I learned a lot more reading this. It's always fun to learn about others' customs and traditions.

    Happy Yule! :)

  6. I know that I, for one, am happy about the turn of seasons, because the longest day will be gone, and the days will start getting longer again!

  7. merry yule!
    my tt is up

  8. Ah miseltoe ... such a useful little plant. I shall be up to see the sunset after the longest night tomorrow ... so long as the mist has gone!

  9. Wow! We must have been thinking about the same thing... mine more is about Dec 21, but includes the Yule!

    Have a great Thursday!

  10. Thanks for sharing this info, Tink.
    Hope you are having a great week.
    Take care, Meow

  11. Very neat TT! I learned a lot =)

    Merry Christmas to you and yours,
    P.S.: I didn´t get the email you mentioned =(
    Could you please try again?

  12. There was a time when I would say "have a cool yule."

    Mine are leaving crumbs.

  13. Wow, I guess I never realized how Yule challenged I was...great list! I really enjoyed it.

    Happy TT!

  14. Thank you for sharing the "Yule" information. It's always interesting to see how all of these traditions were started. Happy Yule!

  15. Great and interesting list!
    Thank you for sharing!
    Hugs and Happy TT from Germany,
    Have a wonderful Christmas Time!!!!

    Sweet like Kitty
    Sonny's Xmas

  16. I'm glad that you broke down the yule holiday. Great list

  17. That was a really great idea for a list!

  18. This was so fascinating. I love this list and I'm going to link it to my's really awesome, I love tracing our customs and rituals...there is so much to learn from travelling back to our pagan roots.

    The fireplace and fire itself is important to the yule log...the house fireplace as an icon at Yule is because the wood is from earth, the hearth and ashes represent and are connected to the underworld...and the fire evaporates and goes to heaven. So a fireplace has huge cultural and magical properties as a gate between the underworld and heaven.

    Hi Tink well DONE!!!

  19. very very interesting. i love learning the 'etymology' of customs as well as words.

    my TT is up. 13 web gems i've gathered for you. from fun to useful they are either free or provide free trials. my gift to my visitors in the spirit of the holidays.

    sorry i was not able to leave a comment last week. i did visit. but blogger wouldn't let me comment. i hope that problem has been solved!

  20. The Shrone21/12/06 18:26

    Winter Solstice is my favorite time for the season to change. I rejoice in the rebirth of the sun--longer days, warmer temperatures--all make me very happy!

  21. Wonderful pieces of information, it was almost all very new to me! very interesting, and that's one of the reasons I love blogging :D, I wouldn't have learned about your traditions otherwise.
    Great reading.
    Happy TT and happy holidays !!

  22. It's amazing how much influence pagan practices have on other faiths. What a terrific idea for a list, and I am really thankful for you sharing this.

    May you have a terrific holiday as you celebrate Yule! Happy Thursday to you as well, Tink!

  23. Wow, Never heard of any of this, thanks, I love learning new things.

  24. Hi, first time here...that was really interesting. Thanks for sharing!

    Is there any chance that you would mind if I used the TT banner with the bulldogs on it? We have a bulldog and I thought it was so cute! I completely understand if you say no...I don't want to use something without permission first!

    Happy Holidays!

  25. Whoa. I never knew THAT's what Yule was! Thanks for dropping by West of Mars; you always seem to open me up to new stuff.

    Happy TT!

  26. I thoroughly enjoyed reading your TT! The whole time, I was singing, "The Christians and The Pagans" by Dar Williams. Love that song!

    Thanks for the great lesson in history! It's good for people to know where some of their christian traditions come from!

  27. Hi Tink. Happy Yule! Wooooooo!

  28. Very interesting...really enjoyed reading the info. So THAT is how we got mistletoe?

  29. What a neat list about the celebration of yule.
    I also find interesting how different traditions comes about.
    Like the fruit cake one. The romans believed if your fruit cake last year the following year should be good one.
    Thats the reason they soaked the fruit cake in Brandy.

    My tt is up.

  30. who said blogs are a waste of time!? I learned something totally new! While it's not legal, we are married for all intents and purposes (except the real important government ones ;)

  31. wow, one of the first times Ive come here and actually knew alot of that stuff already. Thanks for the refresher though

  32. This is very interesting. I had no idea kissing under the mistletoe goes all the way back to Norse mythology.

  33. Fascinating T13! It's always nice to learn something new everyday. Thanks for sharing!

  34. Very cool list! Thanks for stopping by mine!

  35. Enjoyed the information! Have a wonderful and safe holiday.

  36. Wishing you a very Happy Yuletide season!

  37. I enjoyed all of the things I read on this awsome website.


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