What are you doing for the Winter Solstice? Not sure? Let’s explore some possibilities to celebrate Yule and what to do for the Winter Solstice.
We’re going to explore some Yule traditions, and begin to understand Yule traditions and traditional Yule activities.
I’m going to give you a list of these activities so you can create your Yule celebration and have something special to do for the Winter Solstice. We’re also going to spend a little bit of time reflecting on the season, and understanding the importance of it.
First, I want to invite you to a completely free gathering, my Winter Solstice Gathering, a completely free gift. I always offer free seasonal gatherings. They’re a beautiful 90 minute ritual of a gathering of women coming together to celebrate the magic of peak seasonal energies. These quarterly festivals, the Solstices and the Equinoxes, are an energetic portal through which we can enter consciously to garner the energy and wisdom available to us during those festivals to guide us on our Soul’s journey, and help us align more with Nature.
No matter when you’re reading this article, these are free gatherings at the quarterly festivals I have every year. They’re completely free, so check them out on my Free Gifts page and register for the one coming up.
Understanding Yule Traditions
Let’s explore Yule traditions. I want to talk a little bit about some of the historical and cultural aspects of Yuletide, or the Winter Solstice.
Yuletide or Yule and the Winter Solstice are one and the same. Yuletide is a term used in the Pagan tradition for celebrating this time of year.
It’s a celebration of the return of the light, because on the Winter Solstice, we have the shortest day, in other words, the least amount of daylight in the year, and the longest night. But after that, the nights begin to grow shorter and the days begin to grow longer. Yule is a beautiful celebration of the return of the light, an appreciation for the light, and also a tuning into the light that’s within us to help guide it forward.
In Germanic and Norse traditions, Yule was a celebration of the return of the Sun and a sense of hope coming forward. It’s also been associated with the god Odin, the wild hunt, and a sense of fertility to bring forth into the new year.
Christian tradition has often co-opted the Pagan festivals. We don’t realize how many of the Christian traditions have been placed very strategically to offer an alternative to what Indigenous peoples have celebrated for millennia. There’s no mistake that Christmas, which is also a celebration of this birth, this return of the light, this coming of the light though in a little bit different context, is overall the same idea. Many other wisdom traditions also have celebrations around this time of year, around the Winter Solstice, to celebrate the coming of or returning of the light.
Winter Solstice is celebrating renewal and hope, and honoring the natural cycles of the year. I have a previous article in which I talked about the 12 Basic Laws of Nature, and in that, I speak of the Law of Rhythm. There will be a dark period, and there will be a light period. That’s an example of the Law of Rhythm, and everything is constantly moving.
Tapping into these beautiful festivals and rituals that are naturally occurring in our environment, in our experience, in the rhythm of the year, is such a powerful way to tap into those Universal Laws to help us manifest our intentions and create the life that we’re here to create.
Traditional Yule Activities
I want to offer a list of Yule traditions and activities you can do for Yule, and consider as practices to do for the Winter Solstice.
The first is the lighting of the Yule log.
I remember when I was a kid, I had a half log that was drilled out for a candle to hold, and we’d decorate the Yule log with evergreens or other decorations like pine cones and things of Nature.
The lighting of the Yule log is symbolic of the return of the light. Lighting it ritualistically to honor the return of the light is a beautiful practice to engage in with Yuletide. Some like to bake a cake Yule log and put candles in it, enjoying both the light and the tasty treat of the cake!
You can decorate not only your Yule log, but your home with evergreens.
Many people do this for the Christmas holiday. It was also very much a tradition in the Yuletide festivals. Decorating with evergreens was indicative of everlasting life. This concept of bringing that symbol of life, and the branches that were symbolic of life and the light returning, was such a powerful practice to celebrate Yuletide.
Giving gifts was another tradition.
You can see there are many similarities around what we do for Christmas that were also part of traditional Yuletide activities, which were practiced on the Winter Solstice.
Feasting is another Yuletide activity.
We often have our Christmas dinners, similar to having a Winter Solstice or Yuletide dinner. This feast often consisted of traditional roasted meats, nuts and fruits, and maybe mulled or spiced wine or beverage, and was a celebration of the depth of Winter and the bounty that’s been preserved through the Autumn harvest and brought forth during this cold, dark time in the Winter.
There are also wonderful Yuletide carols and chants that were sung at this time.
Similar to Christmas carol singing, there are Yuletide carols to enjoy and sing for yourself. Here is a wonderful album of seasonal chants, some of which honor Yule.
Mistletoe and holly are also symbols of traditional Yuletide festivals.
Hanging and decorating with these elements in your home is considered fortuitous. Mistletoe was also considered protective of the home, and not just something to kiss under.
Divination was another practice that might happen at Yuletide.
In our modern tradition, we might use oracle cards or a pendulum, or something to consider the prophetic Nature of this deep dark time.
If you haven’t already ordered my Sacred Nights of Winter Journal, I encourage you to do that now. It might be too late by the time you’re reading this to get a hard copy shipped to you, but there’s a digital version available.
The Sacred Nights of Winter Journal is like a prophecy. It’s a form of divination because each night in the Sacred Nights of Winter, corresponding to Yuletide, is connected to a month in the year to come. Your dreams, your activities, your moods, and your experiences each day are often giving you hints, glimmers into the future of the new year, which is so potent.
Traditional Yuletide festivals really understood this idea of divination. Realizing there was so much more magic available to them at this time in the year.
Leaving offerings was another common Yule practice.
Leaving food for wildlife, and being able to offer or sacrifice some of our own nurturing to help the wildlife during this time is a lovely gesture.
Yule also often included wassailing.
Wassailing is much like caroling, but this was more in singing to the plants, or the creatures of Nature, often specifically focused on things like fruit trees to encourage a bountiful harvest. Maybe you’ve heard of the idea of singing to the animals on Christmas Eve as a gift to Nature. Again, similar traditions, perhaps just slightly different origins.
Candle lighting is really significant in Yuletide traditions.
Often, candles would be dipped and prepared ahead of time for this special night, and for the Yuletide celebration of Winter Solstice and beyond. Lots of candle lighting was symbolic of the returning light.
There would also often be what was known as a Yule Vigil.
People would stay up all night to sit vigil with the Yuletide energies, and welcome the lengthening days to come. This is a tradition that has carried over again into Christianity with staying up until midnight on Christmas Eve, or attending midnight mass. It’s a similar idea of holding vigil to this special magical time of the transition and the return of the light
A final Yuletide tradition to consider is gathering in community.
I’ve already mentioned the Winter Solstice Gathering that I have coming up. Gathering with your family and friends on Yuletide can be such a powerful way to connect, to acknowledge and bring in this time together, and remember we’re not alone in this.
I also have a very special program to consider for your community connection that I invite you to check out. It’s called my Solace Program. Sol + Ace. Ace means one, and Sol is the Sun. Solace is a program to become one with your Inner Sun. It’s a journey to remember who you are, reconnect to what matters, re-envision new possibilities for your life and rebirth yourself into them.
During the Yuletide season, we’re being given a drop of our own Divinity.
A Spirit seed is being planted within us. There’s an incredible nurturing that needs to happen to tend and allow for that seed to grow. That’s what my Solace Program is. It’s a process of taking us on the journey through the four seasons of the year so we stay tuned in to these amazing seasonal festivals, rituals and energies, as well as learning to grow and evolve in our own process, on our own unique Soul’s journey, so we can nurture that seed and prepare for the next Spirit seed to be planted within us during the next Yuletide.
Check out my Solace Program. It’s a beautiful space of community, connection and sisterhood for women. We begin a new cycle of Solace each January, so be sure to sign up, or get on the waitlist if it’s not yet open for enrollment.
Creating Your Yule Celebration
With all of these different ideas, I hope what you’ll do is make it personal.
Make these ideas your own. Make the Yule celebration yours.
Maybe you add different crafts to the process, or different activities, or you integrate different traditions. I know in my own home, I’ve integrated my Christian upbringing and some of the traditions that come from that into new traditions weaving in the honoring of Indigenous Wisdom and my Celtic heritage of celebrating Yule and the Winter Solstice. These practices offer me so much during this beautiful, magical season to connect with the depths of my own being, and with the depths of Nature.
Reflecting on the Season
Yuletide and the Winter Solstice is such a powerful portal for us to focus on self reflection.
You can do some of that with my Sacred Nights of Winter Journal. There’s a lot of space and prompting in there for self reflection.
It’s this season of self reflection, this turning inward to reflect deeply on what’s happened through the year, who we’re becoming, what we’ve learned, what we’ve gathered, how we’ve become more resourced, or whatever struggles we’re facing and how we might begin to move through those, that allows us to evolve and thrive.
There’s so much information available to us at this time of Yuletide and the Winter Solstice.
I hope you’ll take this time seriously and consider your traditions, and most importantly, consider how you can turn inward to reflect and reconnect with yourself in the most empowering way so you can create a new year that’s truly aligned with your Highest Potential.
For a video version of, Celebrate Yule: What to Do for Winter Solstice, watch here: https://youtu.be/d1vZJNmxeyI