Tis the season…

Merry Yule!

Okay, so I’m couple days early…but we started our Yule celebration yesterday, and will keep going for 12 nights.  So Merry Yule it is!

Why 12 days? Because for 12 nights (at our location), the night is 14 hours and 22 minutes long (according to one of my favorite helpers).  The number of “Longest Nights” (unless you decide to count seconds) varies a bit on one’s longitude.  For example, my good friend in the Northwest Territories  gets six nights that are 19 hours and 1 minute long.  (Other folks might celebrate 12 days of Yule, but start on the 20th or 21st)

How We Do Yule:

Night 1–Talk about axial tilt.  So, I found this adorable “Axial tilt is the reason for the season” meme…  But silly meme’s aside, its true!  We have a solstice because the earth is tipped to the side.  So, for the first night, we talk about the science behind the season.  This is also when we slice oranges to hang on the tree to dry.

Night 2–Talk (in a general sense) about how and why different cultures celebrate the Winter Solstice, and some of the similar themes prevalent in the holiday.  Read Winter Solstice by Ellen Jackson.  String cranberry wreaths.

Night 3–Talk about balance and equilibrium and the Dongzhi Festival, the Chinese celebration of the Winter Solstice.  Eat dumplings, string popcorn blessing garland.

Night 4–Talk about Winter and what winter meant for our ancestors, how winter was a challenge in terms of finding food, keeping warm, of the importance of light in a dark world.  Talk about Beiwe and her mythology (Beiwe is the Sami goddess of the Sun).  Keep all electronics off, candle light only.

Night 5–Talk about the importance of the Sun to the Earth, and to us.  Talk about how ancient peoples watched where the sun rose and set to know where they were in the year.  Talk about Stonehenge and Newgrange, and other ways that different cultures watched the sun, about the “woodhenge” at Cahokia, about the Hopi tracked the sun using kivas for their celebration of Soyaluna.  Make the sun, to go on the tree the next day.

Night 6Go out to dinner and a movie (we are either going to see Frozen or the new Hobbit movie), and return to presents delivered by the Yule Faeries.  Make up new Yule Faerie stories!  Drink eggnog, eat cookies.  Hold the family ritual for Yule and put the sun on the top of the tree.  Go to bed for the sunrise beach walk to greet the new Baby Sun King.

Night 7–Talk about hope, light, respecting others, and the holidays of Diwali and Hanukkah (even though both were in November this year). Read the story of Tante Golda in The Miracle of the Potato Latkes and the story of the latke in Lemony Snicket’s The Latke Who Couldn’t Stop Screaming.  Eat latkes.

Night 8–Talk about how the Winter Solstice is celebrated in the Southern Hemisphere (during our summer), and the festivals of We Tripantu  and Inti Raymi, and about how the Summer Solstice is being celebrated (now) in the Southern Hemisphere.

Night 9–Talk about Christmas and the mythology of Jesus.  Put up the nativity set.  Listen to Handel’s Messiah (because its beautiful).  Make a gingerbread house.

Night 10–Talk about Saturnalia, Mithra, and Sol Invictus (the Roman and Romanized holidays).  Celebrate.  Let Misrule (the kids) try their hand at Rule for the evening.

Night 11–Talk about our roles as individuals as humans in a wider, global, human community.  Talk about Kwanzaa, and the principles of Kwanzaa.  Discuss our roles and principles as a family.

Night 12–Reflect on the holidays, personally, and as a family.   Consider the upcoming New Year.


Some past Yule topics:
A bit about Garnet, the Yule Fairy
The role of stories in a multi-faith season
Herbs for Yule
More Herbs for Yule
DIY, kid-friendly decorations
Yarn Dolls (a craft)
A DIY tree trimming idea list
Solstice thoughts
Popcorn Magic
A Yuletide Maxim (which reminds me that I ought to start Maxim blogging again)

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About thalassa musings

I'm a occasionally-doting wife, damn proud momma of two adorable children, veteran of the United States Navy, part-time semi-steampunk hausfrau, a bohemian beach addict from middle America, Civil War reenactor and Victorian natural history aficionado, a canoeing and kayaking and paddleboarding fanatic, a Unitarian Universalist and pantheistic Pagan, and a kitchen witch, devotee of various aquatic deities, and practitioner of Spiritual Bioregionalism. View all posts by thalassa musings

4 responses to “Tis the season…

  • Abby

    This sounds like a pretty good time. Happy Yule!

  • Heka

    This is all very fascinating Thal, how did you decide on what were the important aspects for you to celebrate, and the focus for each day? This is the kind of thing I want to do in my family, to create our own holidays that have meaning for us, and not just what is commercialised and Christian. Thanks for giving me another way to approach the topic with hubby.

    And great calendar link! I get exactly 12 days of 14.5 hours! Very cool!

    • thalassa


      The hubby and I have an underlying philosophy about what we want out children to get out of Paganism. The first is that the natural world matters, the second is that human kind is part of the natural world and not apart from it, and the third is that our inner landscapes and outer landscapes mirror one another. I could probably write a couple of blog posts on this, but, this basically plays out in a way where the foundation any “lesson” is rooted in the actual event/person/etc (the science/history behind it), then the anthropological significance of that event (or whatever), which moves on to how other (historical and contemporary) cultures interpret it (similarities, differences), and finally, what significance and meanings we can find from it in our own lives.

Share your thoughts...I always try to respond, though sometimes I get distracted!! If that's the case, I apologize in advance...

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