Winter is a time for sharing, family, feasting, fun and inner reflection. There are many other activities to partake in, but this short list makes for a great start to your Yuletide celebrations.
1. Advent Calendar
Advent Calendars are a fun way to count down to Yule or count the days of Yule itself. Instead of candies for each day’s gift, replace with natural items like crystals, feathers, etc.
2. Reindeer Food
Reindeer were sacred animals to the Siberian shamans in days past. Making reindeer food is a cute tradition, similar to leaving cookies for Santa, and fantastic to share with the kids.
Wishing good fortune and cheer to your neighbors in exchange for offerings (i.e. some hot cocoa or cider) can be a fun activity for larger groups. Caroling is the modern version of older traditions called mumming or wassailing.
Mistletoe has a long pagan history. Druids found it to be a sacred plant because it grew on their holy tree, the oak. Hanging mistletoe in the house is said to bring good fortune and happiness, and we’re all familiar with the old ‘kissing under the mistletoe’ custom.
5. Ghost Stories
Traditionally, winter was thought to be the season following Samhain, and the time where spirits roamed the earth. Ghost stories were told around the Yule fire.
6. Story of Perchten
One of these such ghost stories is the story of the Perchten, or a horde of monsters that parade through the streets of Germany, Hungary and other European countries during the winter holidays, scaring off evil winter spirits. The Perchten are named after the Germanic Goddess Berchta.
Yule is a time of giving, and helping those less fortunate is always a good tradition to embed on the younger generations. Share the gift of compassion and kindness to those around you.
8. Feast of Yule
Feasting to celebrate the bounties of the previous harvest, and sharing it with family and friends is not only a fun way to celebrate but also a yummy one!
9. The tale of the Oak King and Holly King
The celebration of the battle between the Oak King and Holly King, when the Oak King takes over the rule of earth and begins to bring light back into the world.
10. Dough Ornaments
Making dough ornaments with friends and family and hanging them on the Yule tree is an old tradition. Stars and Sun shapes are a perfect pagan touch to your indoor decor.
11. Simmering Potpourri
A simmering pop of potpourri is a great way to bring the scents of Yule to your home. Cinnamon, orange slices, star anise, and cloves are added to a simmering pot of water to create the Potpourri.
12. Fruit & Cinnamon Garland
Seasonal fruits and herbs, strung to create a garland are a perfect addition to your Yule tree. Dried oranges, apples, along with star anise and cinnamon sticks make a rustic and fragrant decoration.
13. Yule Bock
A Northern European tradition is the Yule Bock or Yule Goat. It is crafted by shaping a block of hay into the form of a goat and adding some red ribbon as decoration. It can be small and hung on the Yule tree, or large and placed around the home.
14. Yule Tree
Bringing an evergreen tree into your home is an old Pagan tradition. Evergreens signify the everlasting life through the winter, and the bringing of nature into your home.
15. Yule Altar
Clean, consecrate and re-decorate your working altar to honor the Winter Sabbat, Gods, and spirits. Decorated with the colors of the season, it’s a great way to honor the Sabbat during your Yule rituals.
16. Solstice Spiral
Created by arranging evergreens and stones into the shape of a spiral, it honors ancestors, the cycle of life, and makes a wonderful offering to winter spirits.
17. Pinecone decorations
Painted or glittered in silver and gold, they can be used a symbol of rebirth and used as decorations on the Yule tree.
Similar to Caroling, the tradition of Wassailing is singing to the trees, honoring their spirits and asking for a plentiful harvest in the coming year. Usually performed on apple orchards, can be done on any fruiting tree, or even smaller plants!
19. Yule Log
Yule logs are traditionally created out of Oak and decorated with candles which are slowly burnt over the course of the 12 days of Yule. Decorated with evergreens and the colors of the season. A piece of the log is usually kept for good luck, and used as kindling for next years’ yule log.
You don’t need to be sucked into the mindless and expensive gift giving that is commonly done in modern times. Giving gifts to loved ones during the winter is an old, time-honored tradition. Small, heartfelt gifts can bring joy and cheer during the cold, bleak days of winter. Handmade gifts with deep meaning are a great tradition to begin with your family.
There are many other great winter activities with a Pagan twist that can be enjoyed during this time of year. This is but a short list of things to try out this year and begin some new traditions.
Love and Light