Yule: Rituals, Recipes & Lore for the Winter Solstice


Title: Yule: Rituals, Recipes & Lore for the Winter Solstice

Writer: Susan Pesznecker

Publishing House: by Llewellyn Publications

Date of Publication: October 1st 2015

Rating: 5 stars

‘’It’s the time when Mother Earth goes quiet, yet if we listen really carefully, we can still hear her heart beating. It’s a profound and important time to curl up and engage in the solitary act of contemplation as we embrace what should be a natural time of sleep.’’

December. Its name probably comes from the Roman goddess Decima, the equivalent of the Greek Lachesis, the one who had the duty of measuring out the life thread of mortals. A month that combines the darkness and silence of the Winter Soltice with the light and joy of Yule. The time of Midwinter and the happiness of Christmas. I, for once, adore winter. It’s a season of quietness and a ‘’leave me alone’’ time and I cherish as best as I can.

In this lovely little book about Yule and its traditions, we meet the Germanic goddess Hulda, Cailleach, the hag-crone in Celtic traditions, the Nordic Skadi, one of my personal favourite deities, and Frigg, the goddess of winter, the Greek Alcyone who boasted and was transformed into a kingfisher, the Roman Bona Dea, St Lucy and Befana. The Green King of Winter trying to win the hand of the Spring Maiden, the Swedish Tomte, the holy day of St. Nickolas.

‘’The landscape is at once harsh and gorgeous, and above all, it is silent. The clean, cold night air and short days make for brilliantly clear night skies and extraordinary views of stars, meteors, and perhaps even the northern lights if one lives in the right location. The snow-covered landscape creates an aura of purity and peacefulness.’’

The traditions associated with the Winter Solstice and Yule highlight the eternal battle between darkness and light, death and revival. The Yule log that brings good luck, the protection of the evergreens, the prophetic dreams of the twelve days of Christmas, the Omen Days of Wakes, the sacred power of the mistletoe.

Each corner of our planet celebrates the coming of the New Year, the new hope. From the crowds gathering in Times Square to eating raisins (Portugal) and grapes (Mexico) to sweeten the coming year. From the Scottish Hogmanay and the first footing (we DO keep this custom in my household) to the bonfires in Japan, Las Posadas in Mexico and the Iranian Yalda, whether you go hoodening, mummering or wassailing, stir the Christmas pot, sample as many puddings as you can, hide the coin in the cake of the New Year and let the melody of Aulde Lang Syne bid adieu to the old year and its toils, cherishing the joys it kindly brought you.

‘’These are the days when it’s dark when one gets up and dark when one arrives home at day’s end. These are days for wearing sweaters, making pots of soup and baked apples, curling up with a good book and a cup of tea, and enjoying a fire in the fireplace.’’