Winter Solstice, Celebrating Yuletide

Winter Solstice And Yuletide

The Winter Solstice draws near and is officially celebrated on 21 December. Since last June, the days have steadily grown shorter and the nights longer. On this date, we have the longest night of the year.

Once we pass the Winter Solstice, the nights turn around with a grand spiral and begin to shorten again. Each day stretches longer as we march toward spring.

Yuletide

Yule or Yuletide, is a derivative of "Yule time" meaning the season of Yule. It was a pagan religious festival observed by ancient Germanic peoples and was later absorbed into the Christian festival of Christmas.

Yuletide is accepted now as a period from 24 December to 06 January and is connected to the 12-day festival of Yule, later called Christmastide.

The use of the word, Yuletide, is first confirmed around 1475. In Swedish and Norwegian, you say Jul, and in Danish, Jól.

God Jul is how you say Good Yuletide, or Merry Christmas, in Swedish.

Celebrating Yuletide

Yuletide, in its earliest forms, was an important part of the Winter Solstice. Yule logs were brought into the house and kindled at dusk. The log would burn for 12 hours or even several days. It symbolized the protection of the light, to ensure it would return again in spring.

In England, it was considered unlucky to buy the Yule log. Money could not change hands to obtain it. It had to be acquired by other means, such as barter or as a gift. 

Yule logs were often gifted by landowners and decorated with pinecones and evergreen branches. In Cornwall, a figure of a man might be seen chalked on the surface of the log.

Keeping Of The Flame

Ashes from the Yule log were scattered over the fields as a blessing for successful crops. In Brittany, France, the ashes were thrown into wells to purify the water. 

Ashes were also used to make protective, healing or fertilizing charms. In Italy, these charms were created to protect against hailstones.

As the truncated days of winter draw near, we tender the flickering light of our candles and Yule logs. Symbolically, we protect the light to ensure it will survive the dark of winter, so that we may once again flourish in spring and summer. Rituals provide us comfort and meaning. 

Bûche de Noël Tradition

With the rise of Christianity, the celebration of Winter Solstice became wrapped in Christmas. In many countries, the old ways were sustained, but transformed.

By the 19th century, the Yule Log became a traditional Bûche de Noël  (Christmas Log) in France, Belgium, Switzerland and Quebec. A Bûche de Noël is a  delectable chocolate sponge-cake rolled up to resemble a log. Details are added, such as sugar holly leaves or little mushrooms created from marzipan or meringue. Creative decorations flourish amongst bakers with their log desserts.

If you don't have a fireplace where you can burn your Yule Log (and even if you do), making an edible Yule log is a great option. A chocolate Yule log dessert is a solstice treat everyone can enjoy.

Cycles Of Our Days

As darkness falls, we must sleep, and so too, the Earth must slumber.

As humans, we tend to view the world through our egocentric eyes and all that exists is only what we perceive and experience. But, in fact, worlds and universes flourish out of range of our view.

We zip through our yearly 365 days in 24 hour spurts. To the Earth, we can imagine that the cycle of a day is much longer than our own. Like the 24-hour day that we have, perhaps the Earth's "day" consists of an entire year.

Spring is morning, summer is afternoon, fall is evening, and winter is nightfall – a time for sleep, rest and rejuvenation. (Artwork by Wendy Andrew.)

In spring, the Earth will awaken again to greet the morn.

A Time To Nurture Ourselves

Winter Solstice reminds us to nurture ourselves with warm comfort foods. Chunky stews, thick spilt-pea soup and casseroles with butternut squash grace our tables.

During the cold of winter, we warm our bellies with mashed or baked potatoes dug from the earth. As we gather over hearty meals, we feed both body and spirit. 

Is snow falling outside your window? Time to curl up with a book. Finally, a chance to catch up on those novels that were set aside during the busy, outdoor activities of summer.

With use of TRT® hands-on, students of The Radiance Technique® (TRT®) nurture the light within. For the Winter Solstice, we focus on inner light , keeping our inner flame burning bright even through the darkness. 

Students of The Second Degree of TRT® can also direct radiant energy to the light of the planet during this time of earthly slumber. Use of TRT® expands from within the point of light.

God Jul, Good Yuletide and Happy Winter Solstice.