Season’s Greetings and Solstice Blessings to You All!
This coming Monday—December 21st—is Yule, the Winter Solstice, the shortest day of the year. It is a festival historically connected to ancient celebrations of the Wild Hunt, the god Odin, and the pagan Anglo-Saxon Mōdraniht. Yule predates the Christmas holiday by thousands of years, and is in fact, one of the oldest winter celebrations in the world.
Some Neo-Pagans consider this the day the Holly King and the Oak King meet once again in battle—the last time was the Summer Solstice, the longest day of the year—and it is on Yule that the Holly King falls in battle and the Oak King takes up the crown. And this action will, bit by bit, allow the days to grow longer and bring Summer back once again.
Ancient people were hunters and spent most of their time outdoors. The seasons and weather played a very important part in their lives. Because of this, they had a great reverence for, and even worshipped, the sun. The Norsemen of Northern Europe saw the sun as a wheel that changed the seasons. It was from the word for this wheel, houl, that some believe the word Yule is thought to have come. At mid-winter the Norsemen lit bonfires, told stories, and drank sweet ale.
The Winter Solstice was celebrated in Britain long before the arrival of Christianity. The Druids—Celtic priests—would cut the mistletoe that grew on the oak tree and give it as a blessing. Oaks were seen as sacred and the winter fruit of the mistletoe was a symbol of life in the dark winter months.
It was also the Druids who began the tradition of the Yule log. The Celts thought that the sun stood still for twelve days in the middle of winter and during this time a log was lit to conquer the darkness, banish evil spirits, and bring luck for the coming year. Many of these customs are still followed today and have been incorporated into the Christian and secular celebrations of Christmas.
Today’s Furry Friday ends our celebration of the Eight Neo-Pagan holidays and features bearded men that we feel represent this very important day. We hope you enjoy the men we found and present to you here. Check them out, and please don’t forget to vote!
May the light of the Sun shine on in your life and in your heart and in the coming year!
BG “Ben” Thomas