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Posted: Nov. 17, 2002
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Question of the Week: 69 - 12/3/2001
What Are Your Favorite Yule Traditions or Memories?
What memories does the season of Yule invoke within you? What was your favorite one? What Yule traditions have been passed down to you and which ones will you hope to pass down in your family? What special celebrations, gift ideas or recipes would you like to share with us? As the Priest and/or Priestess of YOUR home, what energies or magick do you utilize to create your sacred space? Have others felt it when they have entered your home?
| Reponses: There are 17 responses posted to this question.
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| Light And Song. Yule Was Trimming The Tree, One Strand Of Icicle... ||Dec 2nd. at 4:45:50 pm EST|
|Sage (Olivet, Michigan US) ||Age: 49 |
Light and song. Yule was trimming the tree, one strand of icicle at a time while taking breaks to drink candy cane stirred cocoa. We'd sing carols as we decorated, my dad would lead. He had the most beautiful, deep, bass voice and he knew ALL the songs. Yule was light. My parents let me sleep on the couch while the tree was up so I could see the lights. I discovered the one benefit of being nearsighted almost to blindness. Christmas lights expand to fill your universe with a magical blending of red, blue, green, white...
Now, Yule is still light, song and now smell. I cook bread and cookies and stews and soups and turkey with all the trimmings. I still sleep on the sofa, but now with my own little one and the lights are still as magical. I still sing, but my Dad's bass notes have gone on and been replaced by the beauty of a 7 year old's soprano.
Whether I was 8, 28, 38 or 48. I knew and know that when I sleep something magical happens and the world is transformed when I wake. Call it what you will (I still call it Santa) there is a beauty, a freshness to the morning during Yule. I wish all of you the joy of the coming year and the return of the Sun.
| My Favorite Christmas Memories Are Many, But I Have Some Absolute Faves... ||Dec 1st. at 11:30:35 pm EST|
|Bryony Ravenwillow (Kansas City, Missouri US) ||Age: 33 |
My favorite Christmas memories are many, but I have some absolute faves....When I was little my mom would bake sugar cookies. Each year my sisters and I would bring her the cookbook holding the recipe and beg her to make the cookies. We'd cut them out with a variety of different shapes of cookie cutters: bells, stars, reindeer, gingerbread men, etc, and then we'd decorate them with colored sugar, sprinkles, and those little silver and gold colored dragees that are so hard they threaten to crack a tooth when you bite them. We would save the most perfect ones to leave out for Santa on Christmas Eve. Christmas Eve night the weatherman would show where Santa was on his special "Santa Radar", so we knew we had to go to bed soon or he would pass by our house!
We were always up early Christmas morning, while it was still dark to look at what Santa had left us under the tree. We would shake a few packages, then go and see the proof that Santa had really been at our house: the leftover cookie crumbs on the plate and the dribble of milk left in the glass. By then mom would tell us to go back to bed, so we'd all grab our bulging stockings and take the early loot back with us to our bedrooms, and content ourselves with that until it came time to open presents. We were not allowed to open gifts until dad finally woke up and we ate breakfast, usually banana pancakes and sausage. Then dad would hand out our presents. Later in the day mom would gather us together and we'd have our pictures taken in front of the tree, and then we'd have Christmas dinner. Some years we would have turkey, and other years we had ham.
Now that I'm pagan, I am still in the process of combining Christmas memories with new Yule traditions. While I still celebrate Christmas with my family, I gather with friends on Yule to exchange gifts and hold ritual and eat. It's a good time with lots of laughing and good fellowship and cheer. On the Christmas side I got to put up my very own tree for the first time this year, decorated with as many strings of lights as it would hold and lots of stars and pinecones for decorations. I have evergreens on my altar, a holly garland in the doorway separating the living room and dining room, even mistletoe! I send Christmas cards to my relatives, usually ones with evergreens, reindeer, or winter woodland themes, and they never say 'Merry Christmas', but 'Season's Greetings' or 'Happy Holidays'. If I ever find one wishing a 'Joyous Yule' or similar I will definitely get it to send! Even my wrapping paper is usually printed with reindeer, holly, pinecones, or snowflakes. I try to sneak in as many pagan elements as possible. And now that I will soon have a stepson, I am going to continue the tradition of baking Christmas cookies, so he will have something to leave out for Santa on Christmas Eve.
Christmas and Yule traditions are so closely intertwined that I never feel guilty about celebrating Christmas. Though they have different names, both celebrate the birth of the Sun/Son, and are beacons of love, hope, and peace, which are things to be especially treasured in these times.
| Lights, Music, Potatoes!!! I'm A Light Person. I Currently Have Almost 1,500... ||Nov 30th. at 5:30:13 pm EST|
|drekfletch (Wolfeboro, New Hampshire US) ||Age: 19 - Email |
Lights, Music, Potatoes!!!
I'm a light person. I currently have almost 1, 500 lights that I start stringing about the second week of November. Then, on Thanksgiving, we light them all for the first time. The lights set the initial mood of the season.
Next comes the music. I absolutely adore Christmas music. All the traditional (religiously centered) pieces are well written, and they convey the joy they tell about extremely well, to me at least. And the soft, quiet songs are very peaceful.
And finally, potato candy. This is a recipe that my family makes every year. It is mostly, almost all, sugar, but the base is potato.
Start with one potato's worth of mashed potato. We do this on large dinner plates. Add a little vanilla, I'd guess about a teaspoon, maybe two, and a little butter. Then mash in a little confectioners sugar. Continue to add confectioners sugar slowly until it reaches the consistency of playdough.(A note to parents: younger children will not have the strength to mix in the last few rounds of suger.) Then, shape into balls, ropes, etc., decorate with sprinkles, nuts, chocolate chips and eat. It is okay to let them dry on the counter overnight.
| I Remember Sitting At The Top Of The Stairs With My Kid... ||Nov 29th. at 11:59:29 am EST|
|ƒowyn (Western, Massachusetts US) ||Age: 29 - Email |
I remember sitting at the top of the stairs with my kid sister, both of us staring over the balcony from the second floor into the open living room and oogling over all the presents under the tree. We were small enough to slip our legs thru the bannister rungs. We dangled our feet thru the wrought iron as we wondered what Santa had left us, but knowing all along that all our Christmas wishes had come true. We had to be very quiet because it was super early and our perch was literally right ouside our our parents bedroom. When we finally woke them up, it was first to the hearth to grab the stockings ... and the Brach's chocolate marshmallow santas that had been left all over the house.
All of this, of course, is after us being up all night trying to hear Santa come down the chimney. She and I had separate rooms, but Christmas Eve was always spent sleeping is the same bed so that we could giggle into the night and the sugar plum faeries only had to make one stop.
The tree always looked so huge, decked out in silver and gold garland with gold satin balls hanging from it. And it was always a fake tree .... my father always believed that it was wrong to take down a living tree for decoration. He equated it to hunting for sport. I seem to follow in that tradition. Besides, fake trees are neater and pine scented candles do wonders :)
The only other tradition that I have taken with me is Santa Claus. I never can make him become the Holly King, despite being Pagan for over a decade. When I was starting to ask questions about Santa, my mother told me that she still believed in him because Santa is Love. It's is not about a fat man ladened with expensive things. It's not even about the things. It's about the care and heart that went into the giving. That is what love is.
There is a great Pagan story that explains this better than I can. If you want it, please email me. I will send it to you. It is great to read as an adult Pagan who has grown up with Santa ... and it is great to read to kids so that they can enjoy him too :)
May Santa bless you all,
| Mostly I Am A Scrooge About Christmas; Everyone Seems To Want To... ||Nov 28th. at 2:24:33 pm EST|
|Erin "Kyle" (Burlington, Ontario CA) ||Age: 25 |
Mostly I am a Scrooge about Christmas; everyone seems to want to make the perfect Normal Rockwell (or Martha Stewart) Christmas and they always wind up overstressed and can't enjoy themselves anyway. Since my husband and I are both pagan, I think--I hope--we will be toning down the whole Christmas thing as our son grows up, and celebrating Yule instead.
I do have one good Christmas memory though.
My paternal grandmother made a wonderful tradition of giving me a Christmas tree ornament every year. I was her first granddaughter (after about 6 grandsons) so I guess she felt like marking the occasion.
When I was little I used to hang all the ornaments myself. After I started university, I usually wasn't home in time to help decorate the tree, so my family would hang them for me. Someday (maybe next year) my husband and I will have our own Christmas tree and I can hang all my ornaments again.
| Alright, It's My Second Favorite Time Of Year (the First Being Samhain... ||Nov 28th. at 12:52:38 pm EST|
|Emerald Willow (Boise, Idaho US) ||Age: 21 |
Alright, it's my second favorite time of year (the first being Samhain)!!! Time for me to start making decorations for the tree, cookies for my friends and family, and little crocheted thingies just to keep extra busy. This year though I'm not with my family as they're back east...and I'm out near the west coast now. I've got a few friends and have made a few decorations but it just doesn't seem to be the same. Next year I will have my own tree and place but this year I do not...am I disheartened? Slightly. Will I give up on Yule this year? Hardly! I may not be able to give much or do much this year but I can still celebrate the sabbat and no matter where my family is, my heart is always with them.
My favortite memory of this time has always been the reaction my grandfather used to have when he'd open whatever silly little thing I'd gotten him that year and grin from ear to ear at me then fling open his arms and say in that scottish brogue of his "thanks lass!" I miss my grandfather, he died in April of 2000, but I can still hear his "thanks lass!" every time I think of him.
Happy Yuletide season.
| My Father Was Pagan And My Mother Is Christian (i'm Not Sure... ||Nov 28th. at 10:33:36 am EST|
|Dyan (Potter Valley, California US) ||Age: 41 - Email |
My father was Pagan and my mother is Christian (I'm not sure he ever really explained the difference to her, but he did to me) so while my mother was preparing and planning Christmas, Dad was preparing for his own holiday. From his years-worth of firewood cutting, he would look for the log for Yule -- one that had something speical about it, from a certain tree, or discovered on a hike or camping trip (yes, he would carry a log out for great distance!). then on the Solstice we would have a small party of close family and friends, ostensibly to celebrate my birthday which is Dec. 25 and always gets lost in the shuffle. We'd feast and burn the Yule log, and go outdoors to look at the stars or enjoy the rain.
My dad passed over 18 years ago but I have always celebrated the Winter Solstice, even before I understood that I was Pagan. Now it is our major feast of the holiday season, and I always watch all year for that special log to warm our hearth on Yule.
| I Am Looking For My Aunt. Her Name Is Gypsy French Richardson... ||Nov 27th. at 8:27:36 pm EST|
|Shadowsblade (Columbia Falls) ||Age: 20 |
I am looking for my aunt. Her name is Gypsy French Richardson, from denver. We lost touch and it is important that she contact us. If anyone can help it would greatly appreciated. I ask that she she call her brother Wes.
| My Family Is Not Pagan, So I Usually Just Celebrate During Christmas... ||Nov 27th. at 4:18:58 pm EST|
|Riannon SilverMoon (New Westminster, British Columbia CA) ||Age: 19 - Email |
My family is not Pagan, so I usually just celebrate during Christmas.
that would have to be 2 years ago when my dad had to work over Christmas. We usually have a big family dinner on the 24th, but we couldn't that year, because I was the only one home. My dad was so upset, he didn't even get a tree. My boyfriend and I drove down to Home Depot on Christmas Eve, and my boyfriend bought my dad a tree. We took it back to my house and decorated it. We left a note, and set out for my mom's house. Several hours later, I got a phone call from my dad. He sounded like he was about to cry. That is my best Yule/Christmas memory.
As for Traditions ...
Like I said, I'm the only Pagan in my family so I celebrate Christmas with them. My dad and I have a large dinner on Christmas. Preparing the food for that dinner is like a ritual. We do everything by sight, and smell. We often have incence and candles burning throughout the evening. We decorate our tree, usually while the family is there. And we burn a Yule log (my dad goes down to the river a few weeks beforehad and selects the 'perfect' piece of driftwood to use in our fireplace.)
It creates a wonderful feeling in the house that lasts for weeks.
| Seeing That I Celebrate The Holidays With My Family Who Are Not... ||Nov 27th. at 1:30:02 pm EST|
|Julie (Silver Creek, New York US) ||Age: 16 - Email |
Seeing that I celebrate the holidays with my family who are not Pagan, I celebrate on two different days and in two different ways.For 2 years now i have had my own Solstice celebrations that I will pass on to my family someday. My house consistes of me, my younger sister and my mom. On Thanksgiving night, we put up the tree. We spend all night decorating it, and the house. From then untill the Solstice, were busy making decorations out of pinecones and pine branches, apple sauce and cinnamon ornaments, and various other bright decorations.I also make special decorations for the tree to bring love, prosperity, health and happiness. I give these to family and friends, and they hang them on their trees and are delighted when they recieve them. Every year we have a "cookie party" where family and friends come over and spend the day baking cookies. We listen to holiday music and eat cookies all day! On the night before Solstice, I cleanse and purify the house, and ask for blessing to all. On Yule, I greet the sun and make treats for the birds that we feed every year. Our cats also get a special catnip treat and the dog homemade biscuits. On Christmas eve, we go to my grandmas house where all the family meets. We eat, sing songs, and exchange gifts. Then all the children sit in a circle, and my grandma reads The Night Before Christmas. When this is done, she gives us a small gift, usually a homemade pillowcase with christmas designs, I have over 15 of these! Christmas day santa has came and leaves us all kinds of goodies. Then the family all has brunch together, and I thank Spirit for everythinng I have.
| Yule For My Family Is A Very Special Time, Growing Up My... ||Nov 27th. at 10:29:46 am EST|
|Skye MacLean (Dawson , British Columbia CA) ||Age: 29 - Email |
Yule for my family is a very special time, Growing up my parents didn't celebrate any hoidays ("don't need a specific day to feel good about life or know that it or you are special!" I would always hear).
Sometimes if we went to my biological fathers house, we would have christmas... usually consisted of many inebriated yuppies and my sister and I being stuck upstairs x-mas eve.. only to awake to fine that *santa* was too drunk to remeber to wrap our presents , so we would have to go back to our rooms till noon.
Not the greatest memories:) but they are mine and I would not have my own special traditions were it not for them.
I have three wonderful girls, and every year my mate and I try to make it the most magickal time of the year.
Our tree goes up exactly one month (to the minute!) before Solstice. We spend hours baking cookies and breads for family and friends. We cook up special bird / squirrel cakes
for our outdoor friends to enjoy.
Our celebrations always last 7 (don't worry - I won't list all the 7 days events!)or so days with people trickling in and out throughout the holidays to visit. I spend 2 days begging for it not to snow as I shovel off the pond for skating. We take torches out and circle the pond with them, light the bonfire to keep us fed and warm, and skate and sing into the night. We take long hikes and make snow-creatures.
On the day of Yule it is always the same:)..|We all rise early to watch the sun rise (yeah!!)We all help in preparing a huge breakfast feast consisting of bacon, eggs, sausage, pancakes, toast and the very traditional Champagne and orange juice! we all raise our glasses in a toast and feast!
We spend some time opening gifts and singing.
Then we start preparing our Yule feast of Turkey!
The rest of the day we skate, hike, and visit with company and friends. Before supper, we all go out to the Grove and hold circle, lighting a huge fire and sharing with each other our thanks for friends and the past year and our hopes, dreams and goals for the coming year.
We take a nature commune in the dark, torches held high and place goodies that we have prepared out for our forest friends, then take the long hike back to the house where our hot meal is waiting for us:)
Long into the night we love and play, thankful for who we are and what we have.
A very magickal..(and full!) time of the year for this household. I hope that my girls will continue with these traditions that my mate and I have come to love long after we are gone.
All Good things to you and yours this Holiday season!!
Tasia, TayLora and Sorcha!
| For Years -- Even Long Before I Became A Professed Pagan -- I Have... ||Nov 27th. at 6:32:49 am EST|
|Starwalker (Smyrna, North Carolina US) ||Age: 52 - Email |
For years -- even long before I became a professed pagan -- I have gone to the woods to select and harvest my holiday tree. I have walked the forests of Colorado, the wooded canyons of eastern Washington, and when there was no other option, the lands of tree farms opened to cutting in other states where I have lived. I have walked alone, as a single person, talking to the trees and asking them which would be a sacrifice to the renewal of the sun. I have walked with the man of my life as a couple, seeking... and discussing the messages of the forest. And I have walked with my children (if one can indeed say they WALK with children) as their excitement and energy bounded about the woods. All this comes back to me, at this time of the year, when I again make preparations to return to the forest, saw in hand.
This year, having walked alone for several years, I once again return to the woods with the man of my life...but with an interesting difference. THIS year, our journey to find the Yule tree will be by boat! Next weekend, seas permitting, we will set of in the skimmer and explore the abundance of the fractal-like Down East North Carolina coast, seeking the Tree. As always, the forest will lead us and the ritual hunt will confirm in my heart that it is indeed the season of Yule -- despite the lack of the cold and snow and Northern darkness for which I yearn
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