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Posted on Thursday, December 08 - 2005

" While Samhain is the last Sabbat in the Wheel, Yule is the last Sabbat of the calendar year. Yule is also mixed up in all the other winter holidays being celebrated, which makes it a bit more unique than the other Sabbats.Even though Ostara and Samhain also fall near popular holidays (Ea..."

Yule

While Samhain is the last Sabbat in the Wheel, Yule is the last Sabbat of the calendar year. Yule is also mixed up in all the other winter holidays being celebrated, which makes it a bit more unique than the other Sabbats.Even though Ostara and Samhain also fall near popular holidays (Easter and Halloween) full of religious and secular traditions, the winter holiday season could be considered the most popular of the year.Yule occurs on the Winter Solstice, tucked neatly between Hanukkah and Christmas. Winter Solstice, believe it or not, is when the balance shifts again between light and dark. Though the days prior to Yule have been growing steadily shorter, after Yule they will slowly begin to lengthen as wemarch back along the cycle to the Summer Solstice. At this point on the Wheel, the Oak King will slay the Holly King, turning the cycle back towards the warmer days that are still only a distant dream. The Oak and Holly Kings, two mythic figures, represent the “light” and “dark” halves of the year.

The Oak King is the light one, obviously, as oak trees bud, leaf, and shed acorns in the “light” half of the year. Holly is an evergreen, and is a popular winter holiday symbol, so the Holly King reigns over the “dark” half of the year. It’s important to note that the use of “light” and “dark” merely refers to the lengthening or shortening of the days. An interesting article about the Oak and Holly King mythology can be found here. Yule is also unique in that a lot of our Western modern secular Christmas traditions have their origins in older folk traditions that celebrated Yule. Hanging evergreens, decorating trees, kissing under mistletoe, wassailing, and even Santa Claus have their origins in earlier practices. This season is rich with cultural and family traditions, and it’s a great time to gather and reminisce around a warm hearth and crackling fire. In earlier times, the winter feasts and celebrations held at Yule were ways of alleviating the boredom of the cold times, as well as making sure that the hungry got fed. Taken apart from the secular “gift giving” traditions, Yule itself is a holiday that celebrates the return of the light. The darkest times of the yearare now over. The God, slain at Lammas to ensur......


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