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Tuesday, December 23, 2014

Yule 2014

 I've mentioned before in other December blogs that I celebrate Yule as a Heathen holiday with 12 days of celebration. This year is proving quite challenging and hectic, but since editing the new novel has my blogging limited I thought I'd touch on how yule is going.
   We began our celebration this year on Sunday the 21, the day of the official solstice, by waking up to a gift exchange. 
Santa, you see, comes to our house on the solstice (it helps thin out his schedule for his busier night). We woke this year to falling snow*. The kids decided to get up extremely early so the adults were sustained by coffee. And bacon. A good time was had by all, and that afternoon we made gingerbread cookies. Dinner was a feast of ham and orange colored vegetables, some of which were offered to the house spirits. Later we did a small ritual in honor of some of the wights and held a vigil for the returning sun.
    Monday the 22nd the clouds  cleared briefly in the morning and the new sun shone down bright and glorious before the cloud cover closed back in. On that day we honored Frau Sonne with a small ritual and offerings in praise of her return. We lit our Yule log and let the candles burn out.

   Today, the third day of Yule, we choose to honor the Wilde Jagd (Wild Hunt) which rides this time of year. It is believed that the Hunt rides especially when storm winds blow and tonight my area is getting a Nor'easter - so truly the Wild Hunt is riding tonight here. Offerings will be made tonight that they pass us by unharmed. 
   Tomorrow we will honor our house spirit with an offering of porridge and butter. We also have a family tradition with the children of watching a movie (Polar Express) and having popcorn and hot chocolate and the house spirit will receive a portion of everything. 
  On the 25th we celebrate Mutternacht, Mother Night, by honoring Frija and the Idises. Most Heathens today celebrate Mother Night on the eve of the solstice, but we use Bede's reckoning as given here:

Incipiebant autem annum ab octavo Calendarum Januariarum die, ubi nunc natale Domini celebramus. Et ipsam noctem nunc nobis sacrosanctam, tunc gentili vocabulo Modranicht, id est, matrum noctem appellabant: ob causam et suspicamur ceremoniarum, quas in ea pervigiles agebant. 
(Moreover at the beginning of the year by the 8th calendar day of January**, when we celebrate the birth of our Lord. That night which we hold sacred, they used to call by the Gentile*** word Modranicht, that is, Mother's Night, we suspect because of their ceremonies, as in accordance they kept vigils)
So we celebrate Mutternacht on December 25th by honoring and offering to the "mothers".
    On December 26th we honor the spirits of the land. We also cleanse and sain our property, first by walking the boundary with fire and then by scattering a small amount of salt. This is also the anniversary of our kindred's founding in 2006 so we usually get together to celebrate Yule as group on this day, although this year due to scheduling we are meeting on the 28th instead.
   On December 27th we honor our ancestors with offerings and stories. A white candle is lit for them.
  On December 28th we honor Oski - Wodan as the Wish-giver. Small gifts are exchanged and offerings are made to him, and a small ritual is done. Omens are taken for the year to come.
   On December 29th we honor Frau Holda as the leader of the Wild Hunt, with Wodan, and as the protector of children's spirits.
   On December 30th we honor the Hidden Folk, specifically the perchten and huldufolk who travel with Perchta and Frau Holda.
   On December 31st we honor Berchta. Offerings of fish and porridge are left out. We ask her for her blessing in the coming year, especially for good health, and we thank her fo rall her blessings in the year that is past.
   This may seem like a lot but it really isn't. It's just a little each day and much of it is really fun, especially because of the children. The 12 days are hectic, but they go by quickly and everyone enjoys them.

* Frau Holle shaking her blankets out! A good omen in my opinion
** by the Julian calendar the 8th day of January would have shifted back on the Gregorian calendar to roughly December 25th, which is why Bede refers to it as the night they celebrate the birth of Jesus.
*** Gentile is often translated here as Heathen or Pagan but the actual word given is gentili so I have preserved the closer meaning.

Giles, J (1843). The Complete Works of the Venerable Bede

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