This season is steeped in tradition. There are many ways in which people celebrate the winter holidays. Some are widely practiced, and others, specific to certain groups of people, or even just to individual families.
No matter what you believe, or how you celebrate, the winter holiday season is pretty much ‘The Big Show’ for most people.
I thought I would take the time, today on Yule, to share with you some of the ways I celebrate the season and pay respect to this very important time of year.
Today is the Winter Solstice, and as a Pagan, this is the holiday that I identify with most at this time of year. Today is the darkest day of the year, and after today, the days get longer with the rebirth of the Sun.
You may be surprised to know that many of the same traditions you normally associate with Christmas are also associated with Yule. The decorating with pine boughs and pine cones, holly, and the colors red and green are staples of this time of year for Christians as with Pagans alike. I too decorate a tree in my home to celebrate the season, as well as exchanging gifts with my friends and loved ones. This is a long practiced tradition that has roots before Christianity and has undergone many evolutions to become the seasonal decoration we all know and love today.
One thing I also like to do is to decorate the trees in my yard. Not with lights, and trinkets though as I do with the artificial tree in my home. This practice dates back to the Vikings. They, of course, thought that cutting down a tree to bring indoors was too destructive to Nature, and I tend to agree unless of course, you can find a way to use the tree once you take it down at the end of the season. For instance, if you are a woodworker, you could use the tree for your craft. If you have a fireplace or pit, you could repurpose your natural tree after the season by cutting it, drying it, and using it for firewood just to name a few ideas. We no longer have to make the decision to have an indoor tree thankfully, as there are many high quality options with regards to artificial trees for us to choose from, and fortunately, these options also prove to be more financially sensible as well, seeing as we may reuse them over many years with only minimal care. Lucky us! It’s kind of like having the best of both worlds! On the outdoor trees, I choose to decorate with things like berries, nuts, and seeds. I do this for the benefit of the winter birds and other animals that do not migrate or hibernate to help them during a time where food is often less plentiful than it is in warmer, more fruitful months. I look at this as an offering to Nature.
With regards to my indoor tree, I have become sentimental. This is the focus of the other traditions I have for this time of year. One was handed down from my mother. As I was growing up, she purchased a high-quality ornament for me each year, reflecting something I had accomplished over the past 12 months. The year I started playing the trumpet, she found a little trumpet, the year my softball team won the championship, a little softball, and so on. She recently gave me these, and this year, for the first time, they are not on her tree, but on mine. I have come to regard this as a positive energy source. All of the good vibes from my life, and accomplishments, and victories, as well as all the love my mother transferred into them as she procured them and painstakingly maintained and kept them over the years, hang from the boughs of my holiday tree, filling my home with positivity, confidence, love, and hope.
We have decided to carry on this tradition through my husband’s Goddaughter, and this year, we bought her a little golden mermaid, with her name engraved upon it, to commemorate her first swim, which happened over the summer.
With this last tradition in mind, my husband and I created a new tradition of our own. We were remembering the people we have lost over the years, loved ones that we will never share another Yule with, and in their honor, we have found ornaments that remind us of them, and they will hang from the branches of our tree each year, so that a little part of them lives on not only in our hearts but in the happy spirit of each Yule season that we share together from this year forward.
I also put somewhere in my tree, a bird’s nest with eggs in it. (don’t worry, I didn’t rob some poor mother bird of her children, it is artificial.) This serves as a symbol of the coming rebirth of the land, and also as a reminder of the wonderful abundance and beautiful life that the Earth cultivates when all I can see around me in these months is the barren cold landscape of winter.
What are some of the traditions handed down to you or created by you to share with your family during the holidays? I would love to hear in the comments!
Thanks for reading, and I hope you have the most blessed and merry of holiday seasons, no matter what you celebrate, and I wish you and your family the best of health and prosperity for the new year to come.