With the COVID-19 pandemic raging across the United States, Yule won’t be the same for a lot of us this December. We recently asked our writers how they will be spending the Winter Solstice this year, and how it will be different from their observances in more typical years.
No matter where you are, or how you celebrate, we wish you a safe and happy Holiday Season. Thanks for making us a part of your journey this year!
Mortellus at A Crow & the Dead
“Gods… I may not even be home with my children. My Yule/Solstice/Christmas/New Year may be spent in the back of a mobile morgue unit and sleeping on an embalming table.”
(Editor’s Note: Mortellus is a mortician and may be away on assignment due to the rising death toll from COVID-19)
Irisanya Moon at Charged by the Goddess
“For me, Yule seems more special this year. While it will look different, there’s something about getting to the heart of what it means to be with the ones you love — and to love the ones you love even when you can’t be with them. You can still tell stories. You can still light candles. You can still remember the warmth of a fire and gather around screens. I’m celebrating the return of the light, which coincides with the return of health with the vaccine. There is a hope this year that feels far more palpable. A new day dawns.”
Ash at The Gardnerian Librarian
“We’ve moved our coven meetings online. Without in-person rituals, we feel very disconnected but it is what it is. This Yule, we did an online gift exchange with the members in our coven. We put a price cap of $25, though the gifts could be handmade. We used a free online gift exchange service to set it all up. This Saturday, we will meet online and unwrap our gifts together. We’ll talk about the Solstice and what our solitary plans are, but that’s about it. It’s sad as shit but we’re seeking connection wherever we can get it.
In “normal” times, we make wassail, make pomanders, play Dirty Santa, and have a raucously good ritual.”
Sidney Eileen at The Balancing Path
“As someone who is mostly housebound due to chronic illness, Yule this year is not going to be very different for me. I think that is one thing a lot of people are failing to realize – there is a significant crossection of disabled people who already have to daily live with similar restrictions to those that are driving the rest of the country crazy. Aside from a general fear of being near other human beings when going to the store, very little has changed about my life at all. I usually have invites to several things, but maybe manage only one or two modest gatherings. Even when I have tried to participate in local pagan community, somehow that has always been a warm half of the year thing. I gratefully have no contact with my blood family, so my partner and I usually spend Yule just with her parents. A quiet Yule is the norm for me.
I will still be able to drive around and look at the holiday displays, which has been a highlight of the season for me in recent years. I will likely zoom chat with a couple different friends I would normally have put in the effort to meet with in person for a quiet evening or afternoon. The main difference there will be the screen between us, rather than sitting in the same livingroom or restaurant. I do miss the in-person contact, but remote chat means I am not expending energy traveling or also being around strangers, which means I have more energy for conversing with my friends.
So, yeah, not much different will be happening at all.”
Lilith Dorsey at Voodoo Universe
“My spiritual group is taking extra care to connect virtually, it’s been a very long time since we’ve been able to have ritual together. I’m also making sure that everyone is doing as okay as possible and that we remember to support each other during these difficult times. We’re sponsoring a free online Yule event too, with classes and performances.”
(Editor’s Note: You really should check out the Yule Night Market link and support Pagan creators, artists, and writers!)
River Enodian at Tea Addicted Witch
“All of my rites have been conducted over Zoom with my covens. I’ll be attending a joint one this weekend for Yule. We normally do an all night vigil so that will be a part of the rite. Being a night owl due to COVID, this should be more than okay for me this year.”
Martha Kirby Capo at The Corner Crone
“As it happens, my birthday is a week before Christmas and my younger son’s birthday is the day before the Winter Solstice, so my Yule has long been studded with personal milestones in addition to all the community celebrations that take place this time of year. My minister-husband and I also craft a Winter Solstice Service for the Unitarian Congregation he serves.
All of these things are still happening this year of course. The birthdays will be celebrated (remotely), the Solstice Service will still happen (remotely), and Yule comes no matter what the human condition happens to be in any given year. Yet in a year of Every. Single. Thing. being off-kilter, a year of so much sickness and death and economic hardship and social unrest, of course Yule—or at least my experience of it—is affected as well.
Covid lock-down began about seven months after I moved to this area, so the personal connections I was beginning to make with the local Pagan community stalled almost as soon as I got here. So this Yule, with no like-minded local friends to celebrate with, I’m doing something completely different, something less others-oriented and more me-centered, with an eye toward preparing myself for the new energies that are being ushered in with this Winter Solstice. In past years I’ve thought of Winter Solstice in terms of pause and Yuletide as a time of thanksgiving, but this year I’m experiencing the Solstice as an energetic beginning and Yuletide as a time to plant the seeds of my goals for 2021.”
Melissa Hill at Dandelion Lady
“I will be tuning into a local zoom vigil, and we will camping out all night in front of the fireplace keeping the fire tended all night long. I’m going to make cinnamon rolls, and If I’m very lucky I’ll have time to make the handmade gifts for the kids but that’s looking more and more unlikely. Magically, I will be working with Nyx and the star gods to manifest the Jupiter saturn conjunction.”
Gwyn at 3 Pagans & a Cat
“For the most part, are Yule celebration has been the same as we celebrate as a family. The candles of our Yule Log have been lighted at dusk every night since December 1st, the decorations are festive.
Our Mother Night (Norse Heathen tradition) will be different this year. Normally, it is a quiet family ritual on Solstice Eve. This year we will be sharing a class and performing a ritual online for Wider Circles: A Pagan Variety Podcast The Longest Night event.
On the Winter Solstice we light the candle at dusk and let it burn until dawn the next morning. Our Yule celebration will include our family gift exchange with a ritual at the family altar honoring our individual deities and include a spell for the coming year. So, all in all only minor changes from previous years.”
Lisa Wagoner at Witch Indeed
“It’s a lot quieter this Yule, but I appreciate how everything has been stripped down to the basics. So that makes it less frenetic, and a deeper sense of satisfaction. Do I miss community? I do, but being in an immuno-compromised household has me appreciating the health and welfare of my family and loved ones more than anything. Here’s hoping we get together next year. How joyous and hopefully appreciative we will all feel.”
(Sad) Jason Mankey at Raise the Horns
“Most of us have gone without group ritual since March, so more solitary Yule rites shouldn’t be bothering me this much, but they are! Yule is my favorite sabbat, and for me it’s a festive celebration, like the ancient Roman Saturnalia. We drink wassail with the coven, and toast to good health and fortune in the coming year, and it’s amazing, and I love it so much. That Yule will be far less festive has me feeling a bit melancholy.
‘Yule’ is also the one sabbat where it feels like everyone around me is celebrating, and that’s another reason I love it so much. This year though, there will be no gift exchanges with friends, no Scotch Party for my friends at our local pub, no shared dinners with friends who just happen to be in town for the Holidays. The energy of this time of year is usually so overwhelming, and this year it’s quiet and largely absent. Where we are, all gatherings have been banned, so it’s not just the sabbat that’s solitary, it’s the entire Holiday Season.
I hate to be a downer, and there will still be things to celebrate. We have a lot of Zoom calls set up with friends over the season, and I’m very much looking forward to the Solstice Star on Dec. 21. But this will be a quiet Yule, and I’m not sure that will ever sit right with me.”