Kicking Off the Yuletide Season with Mother’s Night

Kicking Off the Yuletide Season with Mother’s Night December 21, 2023

Mother’s Night, or Mōdraniht in Old English, is sacred to Frigg, Freya, and the Disir in Norse Paganism. The disir are our holy ancestral mothers, both those people we knew in life as well as older ancestors long before our time. Mother’s Night is typically celebrated on December 20, or the night before the Winter Solstice/Yule, and kicks off the 12 Days of Yule. I consider December 20 (last night) to be Mother’s Night since today is the Winter Solstice. But there are many people who celebrate tonight as Mother’s Night.

I feel like our ancient ancestors got it right, celebrating Yule as a season instead of just a day or two. As a child, I don’t remember the holidays feeling like a season. It was very much a build up to Christmas Eve and Christmas Day. Sure, school was out and that was plenty of reason to celebrate, but it all felt like anticipation for the big event.

Yule and Mother’s Night

We are the Magick

Now as a 40 something adult, I’ve realized that Yule is a season, it is a Yuletide.

The -tide suffix alluding to the fact that Yule (in this case) was a season or a time. Perhaps this is because I own a retail business and we’ve been planning for the gift giving season for a while now. Or perhaps I can now see, and am responsible for, the work that goes on in the background to make the holiday season special. All the work and planning begins long before December 20 or December 25.

Today Norse Pagans have largely settled on celebrating Yule from the eve before the solstice through New Year’s Day, signaled by the celebration of Mother’s Night, beginning at sundown the night before the winter solstice.

Mother’s Night

Mother’s Night is a time to honor our mothers as well as the return of the light. Our mothers, both literal and figurative, often hold a special place in our hearts. Many of us think of the magick of the holidays, or fondly remember the magick of the holidays from our childhood. As adults, it may be harder for us to find that magick, as we are now the ones providing it to others. For many people, our mothers are the ones who made special occasions special. They’re the ones who toiled in the kitchens, planned meals and gatherings, made sure the house was decorated and bought all the gifts. I know my life would have been much less magickal without my mother. This is one of the reasons I make a special effort to celebrate Mother’s Night.

Celebrating the Mothers for Mother’s Night

Holidays aside, mothers are the people in our lives who sacrifice, who work hard to make things better for others. And when we’re young, they are our whole world for a while. Mothers are often our safe spaces, our teachers, and they are the ones who spread light into the world.

My Norse kindred, The Fellowship of Yggdrasil, observes Yule by celebrating Mother’s Night as part of our ritual. My kindred is a fun, eclectic group of queer friendly people and it is always interesting how we honor Mother’s Night. When I think of who I want to honor for Mother’s Night, it is first and foremost always my mother. She was my best friend and partner in crime, but she has been in Spirit for almost 11 years now. I also honor the other women in my family line including my grandmother and other women farther up my family tree. I make a point to toast to Frigg, the all-mother and keeper of keys and wisdom, and Freya, foremost of the Disir.

However, I understand that not everyone has the same type of relationship with their mothers that I had with mine. So we do not focus on our biological mothers, but any person who has been a mother figure to them. Some people focus on their aunts or even siblings for Mother’s Night. One of my kindred members thinks about their chosen family member who is a gay man but who has always been the mother of their family group. Like many things, family today does not look like the family of our ancestors and I believe that religion is living thing. One that grows and adapts to the living celebrants and the needs of society. So I am okay when my group wants to honor someone who does not look like a traditional 1950’s mother. My mother is so important to me, I am honestly just glad my people have someone who fills that motherly role for them, no matter who it is.

A Toast to the Mothers on Mother’s Night

There is a toast my kindred does each year to celebrate Mother’s Night.
“Tonight we honor our Mothers, who through joy and suffering endured so that their children, and their children’s children might not just survive, but thrive.

We call to our mothers, the light and the life bringers who have guided us from darkness onto the paths our ancestors have traveled, and now the paths we walk down.

All-mother Frigg we hail thee, and we thank thee. For the immeasurable blessings, your guidance and your wisdom. You see all things, even if we may not know them. May your counsel follow us into the year ahead and be the compass from which we navigate.

Vanadis, Freya we hail thee, and we thank thee. For the invaluable connections of love and friendship, of the protection of our loving ancestors. May your grace and compassion follow us into the year ahead and be the compass from which we navigate.

Hail the Mothers!”

Celebrate Often

There will be another chance for Norse Pagans to honor the Disir. Dísablót is a festival that honors female ancestors, deities, and spirits. It is referenced in multiple sagas and was celebrated in either the Autumn or the early Spring depending on the country. The word Dísablót is a combination of Dísir (plural of Dís, a term for a female spirit) and Blót (a festival or celebration involving sacrifice). Our kindred will celebrate it at the end of winter, sometime in February.

Regardless of your relationship with your mother or family, this Yuletide I hope everyone can find a way to embrace the magick and warmth of the season. Yule, regardless of the name we call it or the place it is celebrated, has always been about the returning of the light and warmth. Today is the shortest day and the longest night. It is the end of the dark half of the year. Tomorrow, the daylight will be longer and the nighttime shorter. We have survived the darkest times and the future looks brighter – literally.

Gifts and light come in all shapes and sizes

Let us be the light in the world. Our light is meant to be shared with the world. We carry a light in our hearts and eyes that illuminates and warms the world around us. Use your light to see the potential in yourself, in others and in the world around you. Our magickal light sees the gods in the beauty of nature, the heart and soul of artistic expression and the warm touch of another person. Like the morning sunlight illuminates the silky web of a spider, may our light show us the fragile interconnectedness of us all. In each of us shines a magickal light of the divine. Together our light grows brighter and illuminates the truth within each of us. We learn from each other and warm our hearts together. In our magickal light we see both the light and dark in ourselves. We come together in perfect love and perfect trust.

This Yuletide season, embrace the light of the solstice. Embrace the light and magick of our mothers and families. Be the light for those around you and help make the Yuletide season magickal.

Hail the Mothers! Hail the Light! Happy Yuletide!

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