I'm still spending most of my time and energy running The Artisans' Guild during the busy (and this year, snowy) holiday season, but this Saturday I will take a short break to celebrate the Winter Solstice, otherwise known as Yule. Even if you're not a Pagan, you've probably heard of Yule, even if you don't realize it. Just listen to a bunch of Christmas carols, and you'll hear the word Yule, or Yuletide, quite often. That's because many of the aspects of modern-day Christmas were actually adopted or adapted from the existing holiday of Yule.
Even caroling itself comes from the tradition of "wassailing" (remember the song, "We will go a'wassailing"?). Mind you, wassailing was a bit rowdier--people would go from house to house singing, and being given a neighborly drink of wassail (which means "to your health"), which was usually heavy on the alcohol. In fact, the holiday was so raucous, the Puritans banned it. Party poopers.
For me, one of the great things about Yule is that because so many of the traditions are mirrored by Christmas, even non-Pagans usually feel comfortable celebrating the Winter Solstice. Blue Moon Circle uses this as an excuse to have a party--our annual Yule dinner party, to be exact. This will be our 9th year, I think! Blue Mooners bring family, and we invite some friends along as well. I think this year there will be (gulp) 15 of us around my not-that-big dining room table. Thankfully, everyone brings part of the feast, which makes life easier. We dress up, actually eat around a table together and eat off handmade pottery instead of sitting around the living room with paper plates on our laps, and play a gift-swapping game.
I literally look forward to this one night all year; it truly makes my Yuletide merry!
What are your plans for the holiday? Do you celebrate Christmas, or Yule, or something else? And if you could have Santa or the Holly King bring you ANYTHING, what would it be? (Actual presents, not stuff like world peace, which presumably we'd all wish for.)
I'll try to post some pictures on Sunday or Monday. Now, off to work!