However you look at it, Yule—celebrated between December 20 and 23—is a turning point, a time to celebrate lengthening days and the hope of spring.
Contrary to popular belief, Yule is not synonymous with Christmas, though they occur around the same time. Christians wanted to wean pagans from their beliefs and declared that Jesus’ birthday would be celebrated at about the same time as the winter solstice (Yule) since Jesus was considered the light of the world and the solstice celebrates the return of the sun’s light.
Winter is a season of limited activity and a time to slow down and tune in to the quiet cycle of the year. Spend time reviewing the past year, remembering what worked and what didn’t.
Gently think about the year to come. Daydream about plans that may seem impossible, and imagine living the life you want. Don’t make any judgments about yourself, your finances, your relationships or other things that might kill your dreams. Relax and let your imagination conjure up the most satisfying situations you can.
As we know, circumstances can change in a heartbeat—ask anyone who’s had a terrifying diagnosis or accident. But good things can come just as quickly and change you for the better. You don’t have to pick winning lotto numbers for it to happen.
You can observe the solstice with friends and family, or commemorate it by yourself. The night before Yule, build a fire outdoors, bundle up and grab a Thermos. You can also use your fireplace. Follow the Scandinavian custom of Juul and save a bit of the log to use in next year’s fire. Candles in hurricane lanterns lend the night a touch of mystery.
The longest night of the year is the perfect time to release anything you don’t want to drag into the new solar year with you: bad habits, old grudges and miserable relationships.
Write your mental gremlins on scraps of paper and toss them into the fire, letting the flames consume them. If you’d like, speak words of release.
As the sun rises on December 21, light candles to welcome the sun back. Write your dreams and intentions on slips of paper and burn them, too, letting the morning breeze carry them into the ether to be manifested in spirit.
“Mother Earth Living” magazine suggests gathering your friends in a circle. Give a candle to each participant and set a larger candle in the center of the group. Light the smaller candles one at a time, passing the flame from one participant to the next, allowing each person to speak words of blessing as his or her candle is lit. When they’re all ablaze, blow them out simultaneously and spent a few moments reflecting in silence. Then light the center candle as a symbol of unity and friendship.
If this sounds like mumbo-jumbo, Yule is still a good excuse to have a party with eggnog, spiked cider and more.
No matter how you choose to celebrate, take comfort in the fact that tomorrow the sun will rise and the days will lengthen. The circle of seasons continues to turn.
When she isn’t writing, she teaches writing workshops and edits both fiction and nonfiction manuscripts. She facilitates the Colorado West Writers’ Workshop and belongs to the Authors’ Guild. Visit her website for more information and links to her books and classes.
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