Some Thoughts on Yule

Some Thoughts on Yule December 12, 2023

It’s no secret that I love the holiday season. How much do I love Yuletide? So much so that I wrote an entire book about it! (Don’t worry it’s a small book, and right now it’s just seven bucks!)

Here are several random thoughts about this time of year . . . . Happy Holidays and Blessed Yule!

I love that the Holidays are everything (and nothing). This time of year it always looks like Christmas has thrown up over all of my house and I love it that way. However my favorite set of decorations this year are in the picture above. This hits home for on a variety of levels. Dionysus clearly represents the joy of the season and its links to the Roman holiday of Saturnalia. Santa here is holding several bottles of wine, and he’s of course a cheery fellow that everyone knows. The Krampus plate speaks to the mischievous nature of the season, a feeling embodies in the Krampus of course. The Steeler nutcracker is an acknowledgement of my favorite sports team (and a true disappointment this year!) and it most importantly it came from my wife. I feel like everything I love about this time of year is represented here.

And of course the Holidays can mean nothing too! Most days in December I’m not listening to carols, and even turn the holiday lights off now and again.

Yule is more proof that sabbats are a season and not just one day. More than any other sabbat, Yule is most certainly a time of year and an extended period that lasts for more than just one day. Sometime in mid-November I begin putting up the Solstice lights and decorations, and by the third week of the month the entire world around me has shifted into Yuletide. I know how some of you hate Christmas-creep, but it’s really been that way my entire life. I don’t see that genie being put back into the bottle . . .

But again, Yule is a season. This year I will celebrate Yule with my coven a week early, and then on the night of the Winter Solstice proper I will stop to light a candle and reflect on the darkness around me. A few days later I will unwrap Christmas presents and a week later toast the New Year over a glass of wine. Already this year I have held my wife and I’s annual Holiday Whisky Party, visited the Dickens Fair (a recreation of Victorian Era England at Christmas), participated in an annual toy drive, and joined friends for meals and shared moments. All of that to me is Yule, and the season is not the same if I miss any of it!

I like the cacophony of the season. I enjoy going to loud and vibrant holiday events. I want to hear Christmas Carols blasting over the PA, and see people wearing loud and garish sweaters. There’s nothing sweeter than a bunch of people I don’t know yelling “Happy Christmas” at me while I wander through a Holiday-themed event. At gatherings my Yule playlists are full of swinging holiday tunes and feel-good 80s pop. My house is lit up brighter than some suns and it’s garish and it’s great.

I love the quiet of the season. One of the things I treasure the most during the Holidays is the quiet that settles in over my world on Christmas Eve. On late night walks on the twenty-fourth of December I encounter nearly zero traffic or even other pedestrians. I’m just left with the quiet and a comforting darkness interrupted periodically by lights. It really does feel like the whole world is holding its breath for just a moment. My wife and I have gone on late night Christmas Eve walks for two decades now, taking advantage of this very special moment on the calendar.

Find joy in the joy of others. I have neighbors who go to a Christian church and they love this time of year because of Jesus and little drummer boys. To that I say great! I love this time of year because it makes me think of the Roman Empire and Saturnalia and some of my favorite childhood memories. As long as someone’s joy causes no harm I find happiness in it. I’m always taken aback by the Grinchy holiday pronouncements from certain people who don’t like the season and want everyone to dislike it as much as they do? Why!?! Hate Yuletide!? Great. Not everyone has good experiences with this time of year, just don’t piss in my cornflakes because you happen to hate it.

Cheers to you good soul!

I unapologetically love the movie It’s a Wonderful Life. Jimmy Stewart is not everyone’s cup of tea, and certainly It’s a Wonderful Life is quite dated, but there’s a piece of wisdom in that movie I’ve held onto for most of my life:

“Strange, isn’t it? Each man’s life touches so many other lives. When he isn’t around he leaves an awful hole, doesn’t he?”

Set aside the gendered language for a moment, but we all have the capacity to make a difference on the lives of others. IaWL is a reminder that little acts of kindness sometimes have major repercussions for the good. It’s not the Holidays for me if I don’t catch the last thirty minutes of the goings on in Bedford Falls each year.

Check your memes. The Holidays are perhaps the worst time of year for inaccurate memes. This year the biggest culprit is “Don’t Forget Getting a Tree and Decorating It is Witchcraft.” Certainly decorating a tree in a magical way can be Witchcraft. I think my tree is quite magical. But for some people a decorated tree is just a decorated tree. We don’t have to impose our understanding of the world on people who want nothing to do with Witchcraft (nor should we be doing that!)

And what it is about Christmas Trees that attract such misinformation? The wood spirits meme is equally silly. Also, the Horus/Jesus stuff is nonsense. So is the stuff about Santa and magic mushrooms.

It’s the combination of everything and the kitchen sink that makes the Holidays great. There are holiday decorations that are Christian in origin, and some that are pagan in origin, and others that are completely mundane. At this time of year I see dreidels, leftover Diwali lights, and dinosaurs wearing winter caps. Some of it is religious, most of it is not. The Holiday season offers a little something for everyone, as long as they are willing to look for it.

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