We were about two weeks late for Yule this year but when we did get to it we had a lot of fun.
Yule is the celebration of the winter solstice; the shortest day of the year which falls on the 21st/22nd of June here in the southern hemisphere. It is the time of the long, dark, cold night that reminds us of the suffering our ancestors went through to survive this time of year, when food is scarce and it seems that the warm days of spring may never come. To answer these feelings we have a feast (showing faith that we will be able to grow more food) and light a fire as a symbol that the sun will return and grows stronger from this time onwards to Litha (summer solstice).
We celebrate Yule by thanking the elements for another year of abundance, telling stories and lighting a candle each to symbolise the rebirth of the Sun. We also have a bonfire and swap handmade presents. This year I got a beautiful crochet poncho. In past years we have decorated an evergreen tree with solar symbols and decorated the circle with branches, but as there are only us old pagans left we toned it down to the essentials. One element that is always present though is the gluhwein (mulled wine). It warms the blood and makes the long night speed by.
Getting everything ready for the ritual (making a list, checking it twice)
The master bonfire maker.
Our altar, ready to go as the darkness fell. Presents, candles and gluhwein (mulled, spiced wine)
The glorious bonfire, giving us warmth and light.
The candles burned down as the night went on, feasting and talking. They made frozen wax waterfalls.
The bonfire burned down to ashes too, but still kept us warm.
My gorgeous poncho
It makes much more sense to me to hold this celebration at midwinter rather than in December; the symbols all make sense now. Have a happy Yule everyone.