Out of the mystery and uncertainty, rose a festival of light in the midst of the darkness. Yule is the festival they celebrated and it was the time of year upon which the rest of the year pivoted.
Draw close! I will tell you a story of Yule and the Holly King. Long centuries ago, the winter’s solstice frightened people living in far northern climes. They called the winter’s solstice Bruma. The sun never rose, but if it did, it hung low above the horizon and seemed to stand still in the southern sky without moving for days on end without casting even a moment of heat. Snow covered the frozen land. Spring was far away. The abundance of summer might never come again! Oh, fearsome thought. Would the sun ever return to warm the land and bring life and plenty?
Although they invaded Scotland and Ireland, and England, and brought with them untold despair and destruction, those pirates, the Norsemen, also brought their festival of Jul and it is them we must thank for this celebration. In their language, Jul means “wheel”. It is this word that describes the wheel of the year. It is the source of our word, Yule. Because of them, we bring green trees into our homes and light the Yeel Carline, the Yule log, to burn during the entire season. Because of the Norse, we celebrate the Yule festival with the light of many candles. The Scots light bonfires and sing songs to encourage the return of the Oak King. Once burned, the ashes of their Yeel Carline are collected and scattered upon the greening fields of spring to carry it forth into the following year.
In the midst of the darkest hours we bring holly and mistletoe into our homes that was once believed to afford magical protection against all evil spirits and to shelter those tiny beings, the faeries, who inhabit them.
Now, isn’t that nice? So I’ll wish God’s blessings on each of you and all your loved ones. May He gift you with prosperity and good health. Happy Yule, to one and all! And Merry Christmas, Nollaig Chridheil, Joyeaux Noël, ¡Feliz Navidad! Frohe Weihnachten! God Jul, and Nadolig Llawen!