Yule is coming up (two weeks!) and it is time to start preparing. The sun is at its lowest altitude and the days are short. At Yule, there is rejoicing for the sun’s return to strength and the eventual greening in the Northern Hemisphere. When I speak with others in the general public about the season, I use the word “Yuletide.” A lot of the seasonal things done by the general public over the Yule period works with Wiccans. Many of the decorations work, and there is a lot of crafting that can be done. For example, one could make a wreath, which is a symbol of not only greening but of the wheel of the year. There are many holidays to explore involved in the Yule season. There is a lot one can do to prepare for Yule.
There are many Yule crafts one could make and ways one can decorate. Put up lights in honor of the sun. Bake salt dough ornaments in desired shapes like moons, suns and stars. Make garland with greenery and/or dried oranges. Paint or glitter burned out light bulbs as ornaments. Make wreaths any time of the year. These wheels of the year can be be made with themes for any of the seasons. Turn a glass ball ornament into a witch bottle. Make a Yule log with holly, ivy and/or evergreen decorations. Obtain the log respectfully, leaving an offering in its place. It may be burned literally in a bon fire or a fire place or be burned figuratively. Drill three (for harmony/trinity) or eight (for the wheel of the year) holes in the log in which to put red or white candles and light the candles instead of the log. This log may be saved for the next year. Make smudge sticks, incense and scent items. Create greeting cards. One could put up and decorate a live tree. After they’re use I have seen these trees turned into mulch, which is a wonderful idea. The tree also could be aluminum or plastic, which allows it to be used for years, but the problem is when it ends up in a landfill. There are representations of trees not imitating greenery at all. For example, greeting cards could be put up on a wall in the shape of a tree. These are just some ways one could decorate and create crafts for Yule.
Crafting festive food is also an enjoyable experience. Baking cookies, gingerbread humans, fruit bread and cake are wonderful. Garnish food with red berries like cranberries and with greenery. Spiced cider can have so much flavor. This is my recipe for spiced apple cider (non alcoholic).
Auburn’s Spiced Apple Cider
1/2 gallon apple cider, unfiltered
1 Tbsp lemon juice or 1 orange
4 sticks of cinnamon
12 whole cloves
15 allspice berries
1/4 tsp ground nutmeg
Pour cider into a large sauce pan. Put cloves and allspice berries in a tea ball. This way one does not have to strain the cider after simmering. Add tea ball to cider. Measure one tablespoon lemon juice and add to cider. Or peel orange, poke a few small holes into the orange and put the 1/2 of the peel and and orange into cider. Add the ground nutmeg. Simmer for 30 minutes. Stir occasionally. Take a few moments to notice the scent of the kitchen and the house. Take out and discard the orange and peel. Take out tea ball and discard cloves and allspice berries. Discard cinnamon sticks. Serve hot. One may garnish with a cinnamon stick and left over orange peel. Yum!
This is the time of year when the Holly King (god of the waning year) and Oak King (god of the waxing year) fight. I have seen groups have a performance of the two fighting, and it can be quite entertaining. At the end the Holly King loses, and the Oak King is victorious and rules for six months. At summer solstice the Oak King and the Holly King meet again, only this time the Holly King defeats the Oak King and will reign for six months. This is the time of the year of the Great Goddess and the Divine Sun Child, as both the god and the sun are reborn. Also, the Great Goddess will soon be giving birth to herself.
Both past and present, many cultures have winter solstice celebrations. Christmas, Kwanzaa and Hanukkah are three major observances. Saturnalia is the ancient Roman festival of this time of year. Saturnalia was dedicated to the Roman God Saturn, god of agriculture. Winter solstice was a time of the last harvest in Rome. Saturnalia was marked by feasting, drinking, gambling and gift giving. Yalda in Iran is celebrated on the Solstice with good food including watermelon and pomegranates and uses the color red in decorations and food symbolizing the dawn. St. Lucia’s Day is a festival in Scandinavia which has roots in Norse traditions. Bon fires were lit to scare away evil spirits and to change the motion of the sun. Dong Zhi is a Chinese observation of the solstice with which family and warm food are traditional. The winter solstice is celebrated by many different cultures.
As you prepare for Yule, take time to reflect about what you want to bring into the waxing year. Feel free to include these ideas in your Yule ritual.
Enjoy preparing for Yule!
Bakhitari, Parisa, “Yalda Night: How to Celebrate the Longest Night?”, SurfIran: Travel Beyond Your World.
Farrar, Janet and Stewart, A Witches’ Bible: The Complete Witches’ Handbook, Phoenix, 1981, 1984.
Fox, Selena, “Crafting Yuletide Celebrations,” Circle Sanctuary Network Podcasts, December 1, 2019. Encore presentation from 2012.
Fox, Selena, “Sacred Plants of Winter Solstice,” Circle Sanctuary Network Podcatsts, December 8, 2019, Encore presentation from 2012.
Fox, Selena, “Yuletide Giftbringers,” Circle Sanctuary Network Podcasts, December 15, 2019. Encore presentation from 2012.
Fox, Selena, “Winter Solstice Ritual, Circle Sanctuary Network Podcasts, December 22, 2019, Encore presentation from 2012.
Mattox, Charlyne, “82 Easy Christmas Craft Ideas to Make Your Home Merry and Bright.” Country Living, December 15, 2021.
Skidmore, Melissa, Beautiful Wreaths: 40 Handmade Creations Throughout the Year, Skyhorse, 2019. It gives materials lists and step by step instructions about how to make 40 wreaths for different seasons.
Wigington, Patti, “Yule Craft Projects for the Winter Solstice.” Learn Religions, August 28, 2020, learnreligions.com/yule-craft-projects-4147322.