Christmas is a lovely time of year, with the thoughts of giving gifts, feasts, fires burning, decorated trees, mistletoe, and traditions strong in the family.

However, most of the traditions of Christmas are predated by Pagan traditions for the time of Yule. So merry meet to the readers as some of the ideas and history for Pagan and Wiccans is explained.  

The general celebration for Yule is held on the winter solstice, the shortest day of the year. One would generally burn a Yule log in the hopes of the sun to regain its strength, and a feast for the family is often created to give hope to the family or clan for the coming year of agriculture.

The Christmas tree had its start here as well. Being an evergreen it reminded the people of warmer weather and the life the world produces, and often it was kept to ward off evil spirits in the darkness of winter. 

Gift giving was when people gave to the shrines, priests, and so forth to help in the return of the sun. Many of these traditions have been modeled into other faiths and actions, though the origins come from religions far older than those practiced in present times.

For a modern Pagan or Wiccan, gift giving can be rather easy, generally any homemade item always brings joy. Those might include a collection of dried herbs, sewn items or baked goods. Each of the presents makes for a special connection as that person had taken the time to craft it. If this doesn't suit your style or you don't have time to make items, craft kits and supplies also help to make for pleasant surprises.

As for celebrating the solstice, each Pagan or Wiccan often has their personal traditions and rites that they follow. I create a traditional dinner of turkey with stuffing, and various other side dishes while being certain to decorate the table with fresh cuts of holly adorning the table with the bold greens and bright red berries near the warm foods.

I also make simple white candles in jelly jars that have holly leaves and berries in the bottom, granted the candles would not be burned the whole way down. The candles add a touch of heart and warmth to this moment.

The final touch would be to invite friends who did not or could not go home so that they could at least have a warm meal and enjoy the company of one another and a bottle of good wine. The idea of family can be strong depending on the Pagan or Wiccan; this may include one’s biological family or close friends.

Often this can be a time of year for the reflection of thoughts and actions for the past year which helps in crafting how one approaches their solstice. Some may include time for reflection in their dinner or rites and speaking of their goals for the future year. It is much easier to simply state “to each their own” with these basic ideas one may have a step in the direction to celebrate the Yule holiday. Blessed be and happy holidays to all.

This article has been republished from Out & About Nashville, and was part of a series of first-person pieces written by the late Bobbi Williams.

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