Sunday, November 25, 2007

Planning Your Yule-Tide

Yule, the Winter Solstice, comes again this year on December 22, 2007. It is the longest night of the year but the night relenquishes it's hold on the land as each day the nights become shorter. The sun also drops a bit in the sky gaining strength to warm and thaw the land.

Symbolism of Yule: Blessings, rebirth, closure, strengthening, awakening, planning for the future.

Symbols:
  • Evergreens: representing the immortality of nature. That,even though it seems that nature dies in the winter, it is really just sleeping and renewing its strength.
  • Weaths: a circle of evergreens - mixing the immortality of nature with the circle power of ritual
  • Yule Log: representing several things - the world tree (doorway to Otherworlds), the prosperity and strength of the family, strength of the Gods, etc.
  • Holly: representing prosperity and good fortune
  • Spinning wheels: representing the forward motion of time
  • Mistletoe: representing good fortune and love
  • Candles of gold & red: representing the fire of the sun
  • Winter Flowers (such as poinsetta's) represent the enduring nature and strength of Nature.

Colors: Red, Green, White, Gold, Yellow, Silver & Orange

Deities: Triple Goddesses - especially Dagda and Brigid, The Oak King, The Green Man, The Horned One. Odin, Lugh, etc.

Tools: Bells, Candles

Foods: Cookies & Cakes, cider, fruits, nuts, pork dishes, turkey.

Spell Workings:

  • Peace
  • Harmony
  • Introspection
  • Dedications
  • Ending of Bad Habits
  • Start of New Plans

Carols: I like to make my own Solstice songs by taking easy to remember Christmas songs and changing the words...for instance

Solstice Night (sung to Silent Night)

Silent night, Solstice Night.

All is calm, all is bright.

Round the Yule log, burning bright.

Keeping us warm, all through the night.

Peace and happiness to thee,

Peace and happiness to thee.

Family Traditions:

I also love to involve my children in Yule. This is a magical time for everyone. The night is mysterious and unknown; sometimes even scary. Children are more in tune with these changes than even we pagans. I love teaching my children about the 3-Fold law (what energy you send out comes back to you 3 fold) therefore by helping others we can wipe clean some of the negativity we may have sent out throughout the year. Ending all thought of it and starting fresh. Also sending out that good energy can't be a bad thing. So, we make baby blankets and give them to Neo-Natal Intensive Care Units at our local hospitals..(see the Crafts sections)

Here are more traditions you can do as a family:

  • Make blankets for the needs or hospitals
  • Work at a blood drive or soup kitchen to give back to those less fortunate than you.
  • Make cookies and put them together in small baskets or gift bags to give to your neighbors.
  • Make Yule or Holiday cards blessing them with love and happiness
  • Go on a cookie scavenger hunt - using paper gingerbread men or reindeer as the 'clues'. The winner gets to be the Oak King and sit at hte place of honor (or I'll make a cape & aluminum/cardboard sword for him to wear)
  • Make Tissue Paper wreaths (see crafts section) to give to the kids' friends families
  • Make Horned Man Hat (or you can think of it as Reindeer Hats) and explain the significance of the Horned Man (see crafts section)
  • Set out Reindeer Food (see recepies)
  • Helping to decorate your home with the above symbols. Children love to decorate and you can explain the significance of each item as you go along.

Crafts:

Fleece Blankets: This is a super easy gift or donation to make and even young children can help. Cut a square of fabric. For baby blankets I use about 12 by 18 inches. Using a pair of scissors, I make 1 inch incisions about 1/4 inch apart all around the whole blanket. I knot each piece to create a fringe. Thats it, no sewing, blanket done.

Tissue Paper Wreaths: This si a great decoration. Take a paper plate and cut out the center - creating a circle about 1.5 - 2 inches wide. Using multiple colors of tissue paper, have the children crush each piece into a ball. Spray the plate with adhesive spray (in a well ventilated area) then have the children affix the crumpled tissues to the plate. Wait for the adhesive to dry. Using a hole punch, pop a hole in the top of the plate. Using a colorful piece of string thread through the hole to create a hanger.

Reindeer / Horned Man Hats: Cut a strip of construction paper about 1.5 - 2 inches in width, and long enough to fit around the child's head. Staple or tape shut. Using brown construction paper, trace the child's hands. Cafefully cut out the 'antlers'. Affix to the band, with tape or staples. I sometimes will use cream construction paper and let the kids color, sparkle or in other ways, decorate the antlers.

Dried Citrus/ Apple Ornaments: Using fresh 'sun' fruits, such as oranges, limes, lemons, grapefruits or apples. Slice into thin circle slices. Put them carefully on a cooling rack. Put into a 200 degree oven for several hours, turning every hour until they are dry. Open the oven door slightly and leave in the oven overnight. Laying on a piece of wax paper, coat evenly with a clear ployurathane coating. String with fishing line, and hang on the tree, or dangle in the windows.

Reindeer Food: Essentially you make Chex Mix (cereal, pretzles, peanuts, raisins and M & M's). Take a paper bag - decorate like a reindeer {red pom-pom for nose, googlie eyes, and trace the kids hands on brown construction paper then cut out, as the antlers.} Place the 'food' in the bag and staple shut setting it along side Santa's Cookies. I've also used an open bag with bird seed that I set outside on the stoop for the reindeer to eat while Santa distributes the gifts.

The Fabulous Kickbutt Topiary: This is also super easy and the kids love it. Supplies: Large styrofoam ball (at least 4 in), cinnamon sticks, silk winter flowers, holly, etc, ribbon, 4 in terrocota pot, 4 in styrofoam disk (to fit in the pot), styrofoam glue, spray adhesive, paint. Procedure: Place a thin line of glue around the inside rim of the pot. Place the foam disk, inside the pot, paint the pot and set aside. (Make sure you lay out wax paper to protect the work surface). Cut the heads off of the silk flowers. Spray a small section of the large foam ball. Press the smallstem of the flowers into the ball, pressing until the adhesive affixes the flowers securly. Work around the surface of the ball, leaving a very small space in the 'bottom'. Take 3 cinnamon sticks that are relatively straight. Bind the ends with florist wire (if you'd like, not necessary). Press the ends, tightly held together, into the foam disk in the pot (right in the center.), and again into the small clear space in the base of the ball. Remove. Heavily glue the hole in the pot, then place the sticks back into the glued hole in the pot. Leave until dry. Taking the holly. Decorate the surface of the foam in the pot, spraying small sections with the adhesive as you go, wait till dry. Glue the hole in the bottom of the foam ball, gently place the cinnamon sticks into the hole. wait for glue to dry. You can then decorate the pot or cinnamon sticks with the ribbon.

Recepies:

"Yule Log": Make a chocolate cake (I usually use vanilla cake then chocolate frosting, but its up to you, its supposed to represent the wood log). Pour in to a Greesed and Floured Jelly Roll (15x10x1 inch) Pan. Bake for 12 - 15 minutes at 375 degrees. Lightly sprinkle a clean dry cloth with powdered sugar. Loosen the cake (fresh from the oven) around the edges then gently dump it on the cloth. Roll the cloth around the roll, set on a cooling rack. Let cool. When totally cool, unwrap cloth. Then frost with light chocolate frosting. I also decorate the roll with frosting to look like holly - but you can bring in pine cones, acorns & holly and decorate the 'Log' (just don't forget to wash them thoroughly first).

Sugar Suns: Using a sugar cookie mix, cut out in circles or use a cun cookie cutter. Alow to cool, then decorate with yellow, orance & red frosting.

Plum Pudding
1/4 lb. flour
1/4 lb. currants
1 tsp. salt
1/4 lb. sultanas (small raisins)
1 tsp. allspice
2 cooking apples, peeled, cored and chopped
1 tsp. ginger
1 ounce cut mixed (citrus) peel
1 tsp. cinnamon
2 oz. shredded almonds
pinch fresh grated nutmeg
Juice and grated rind of 1 orange and 1 lemon
1/4 lb. fresh breadcrumbs
1/4 lb. molasses (treacle)
1/2 lb. shredded suet
4 large eggs
1/4 lb. brown sugar
2 tbsp. brandy
1/4 lb. dried chopped apricots
1/4 lb. prunes
1/4 lb dates
Sift flour, salt and spices into a large bowl. Stir in breadcrumbs, suet and sugar. Add fruits, peel and rind. Beat lemon and orange juice, molasses and eggs together and add to other ingredients. Steam for 6 hours -- a coffee tin filled with the mixture and placed in a steamer in a covered pan does well.
(A little vinegar and lemon juice in the water will prevent the pan from discoloration. ) After steaming cover in a cool place and let age as long as possible - usually about 5 weeks.

To serve, re-steam for another 3 hours. Remove from tin, douse with warm brandy and set it ablaze!

Wassail (traditional hot - sometimes spiked- Yule Cider)
4 litres apple cider or juice (fresh milled organic is excellent!)
1 orange, chopped
1 lime, chopped
1 lemon, chopped
4 cinnamon sticks or 1 t. ground cinnamon
1 inch-square piece of fresh ginger or 1/4 t. ground ginger
1 t. cloves, allspice and/or star anise
Heat all and simmer in an enamel pot (aluminum can impart a metallic flavor) on low for an hour, then serve to cold, caroling folks.
brandy or rum for adults, optional

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