Yule - Traditions Crafts And Cooking

A short overview of a few of the many traditions, crafts, decorating and cooking for the Winter Solstice or Yule.

From the far past to present day, people all over the world celebrate winter holidays. The solstice is the time of the year when the darkness lasts longer than the daylight. People come together at this time to reflect on the past year and to prepare resolutions for the new year. The kindness and gift giving are all part of a renewal of the spirit. Every religion has its own name and rituals for this day, but they all have similarities. The winter solstice is a celebration of the return of the Sun. Some persons will stay up the whole night before the Winter Solstice with a candle burning to welcome the Sun on its return.

Many Yuletide items have interesting beginnings. Bells were originally used to drive away the dark spirits that came out during the long, cold nights. Candles go back to the ancient Romans who gave them as gifts because their brightness was to urge the Sun back into the sky. They were also useful in chasing away night demons. The Yule log, being a symbol of the Oak King, is supposed to burn for twelve days with one piece being saved to start next year's fire. Wreaths are important to Pagans because the circle is a symbol of birth, death and rebirth. Yule trees seemed to have started with people decorating outside trees with nuts, fruits and other foods for the animals. The trees and animals are part of Nature and join in the celebration. In later times, trees were brought indoors.

Decking the halls and the rest of the house sends a signal that a magical time of year is approaching. It is a lot of fun too. To make a wreath you can pieces of an old artificial tree and weave them together to form a circle. Another option is to take a long piece of florist wire and weave greenery around it. Add pinecones, apples, ornaments and ribbon to the wreath and hang. Hang some mistletoe in doorways or other areas for holiday kisses. To make a centerpiece for a table, take some floral clay and place it in the bottom of a dish or glass. Add a candle to the center and arrange flowers and greenery around it. Books and the Internet are filled with craft ideas to make with your children. Involving your children in decorating the house creates wonderful memories for years to come.

Clear plastic or empty glass ornaments that you can fill with items yourself are great for Yule. Each ornament can be made with different blessing, like for good health or prosperity. Some ideas for fillers are herbs, holly, cinnamon sticks, ribbons, confetti, tiny stones and potpourri. Use some glue to make a pattern on the outside and sprinkle glitter for some added sparkle. Be as creative as you want. Do not forget about cookie cutter ornaments made from applesauce and cinnamon as well as salt and flour ones.

An old and traditional drink for Yule is wassail. Mix apple juice, cranberry juice, sugar, allspice, cinnamon sticks and a clove studded orange in a crock-pot. Cook on high for about an hour then simmer for another three hours. Gingerbread cookies, ambrosia salad and a large dinner complete the feasting.

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