Last Updated on November 7, 2023 by Eva Maria
The coldest months (in the Northern Hemisphere) are ahead of us. For centuries this was the perfect time for looking inward, reflecting, studying, reading, crafts, and inner work.
People spent yuletide focusing on personal transformation, paying attention to dreams, and journaling.
Below you can find some of the most beautiful Yule 2023 traditions and ways to celebrate this magical midwinter day!
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What is Yule?
Yule is a Pagan Holiday that originates from the ancient tradition of celebrating the Winter Solstice. It marks the shortest day and the longest night of the year. From that point, the Wheel of the Year starts to turn towards spring and the Sun shines longer on the sky. The actual day of Winter Solstice varies depending on the year and can be anytime between the 20th and 23rd of December in the Northern Hemisphere. The word Yule comes from the nordic word Jol which means the Wheel. It is a Solar holiday when people celebrate the return of the Sun.
When is Yule 2023?
Yule 2023 starts on December 21, 2023, and is celebrated for 12 days until the 1st of January 2024.
What is Yuletide?
Yuletide is the time of year when pagans around the world celebrate the Winter Solstice.
Traditionally Yuletide lasts for 12 days. It’s a time to give gifts, exchange greetings, and celebrate the coming of the New Year.
Although the holiday is celebrated around the world, there are some unique customs that are only observed in certain regions.
For example, in Scotland Yuletide is celebrated with a huge party called a Hogmanay. The evening begins with a festive dinner and culminates with a masquerade ball where everyone dresses up as their favorite character from the Christmas story.
Yuletide is a term used to describe the traditional winter festival celebrated by various ancient pagan cultures, including the Norse and Germanic peoples.
It typically occurs around the winter solstice and is a time for feasting, gift-giving, and the lighting of fires to symbolize the return of light and the triumph of warmth over the darkness of winter.
Yuletide is often associated with the modern Christmas season that borrowed many of its customs and traditions from earlier Yule traditions.
What are some Yule Traditions?
Decorate Yule Tree
It is no surprise that many of the current Christian traditions come from Pagan celebrations. Bringing evergreen trees into homes has been observed for centuries and originates from Germanic tradition. The evergreen trees such as pine, spruce, and fir are the symbol of life and hope in the coldest months.
Christmas trees originated in pre-Christian Europe, and they were often decorated with branches from oak trees. In fact, the first recorded reference to a Christmas tree can be found in a poem written by the Roman poet Ovid in the 1st century AD.
You can decorate the Yule Tree the traditional way with natural ornaments such as painted walnuts, pine cones, popcorn garlands, dried oranges, and cinnamon sticks.
This is a great tradition that could be done together with your family even if you’re in the broom closet.
The Yule Log is a traditional decoration that originally was burned during the Yule celebration. Some people use the stamp of the yule tree from the previous year. You can also use the oak or any type of log you can find and decorate it your way. It doesn’t necessarily have to be burned if you have no fireplace. Instead, you can make some holes for candles, that will represent the fire element and the return of the sun.
To decorate your log, prepare some evergreen branches: holly, pine, spruce, or fir, you can also add small pine cones and other natural Yule decorations. You can attach everything with hot glue and tie a ribbon in the middle.
Traditionally the Yule Log was burned for 12 days representing 12 upcoming months. The ashes from the log were preserved as they are very potent for prosperity magic. If you have no fireplace you can place symbolically 12 small candles instead.
Yule Cat Iceland Myth
The Yule Cat (named Jólakötturinn in Icelandic) is a mythical creature that is said to roam the streets of Iceland during the Christmas season. It is the house pet of giantess Grýla and her sons.
The Yule cat is a giant cat that supposedly lives in the coldest parts of Iceland. Legend has it that Yule Cat is a human-eating monster that eats people who have not received new clothes for Christmas.
Yule Altar and Yule Decorations
Find the best Yule decorations on Etsy
To decorate your holiday altar you can use objects and colors associated with Yule. These are:
- Pine cones: a symbol of cleansing, purification, and protection. They are also known to bring prosperity and wealth. Because of their shape, ancient people associated them with the Pineal Gland and the spiritual center of our soul. They assist in spiritual awakening, heightening consciousness, and enlightening the path.
- Cinnamon sticks are used for healing, success, and money spells. They can help you to develop spiritual awareness and psychic powers. Placing them on a Yule 2023 altar can bring love and protection in the upcoming months.
- Oranges are one of the most common Yule symbols. They are associated with love, luck, and money. People also can use oranges in divination. You can ask a yes/no type of question and count the seeds inside. If the number is even, the answer is no, if odd – yes!
- Holly is a great protective plant. It can guard your place against lighting and evil magic. Placed on an altar will bring luck and prosperity to your home.
- Evergreens are the only plants that stay green throughout winter, therefore they are a symbol of life, immortality, protection, and luck. During Yule, you can decorate your house with plants such as fir, pine, and spruce to bring a bit of liveliness into your household.
- Mistletoe can be placed on your altar to bring protection, love, and health your way.
- Ivy is great for protection and healing. It is a feminine plant that pairs well with masculine holly. They can both be used to bring love into your home.
- Yule Colors: red (strength, fire, relating to the sun, passion, joy, renewal), green (immortality, life, healing, finances, and luck), white (snow, ice, new beginnings, rebirth), gold (sun conquering darkness, abundance, wealth). You can place candles in these colors and lighten your altar with corresponding intentions.
- Yule Crystals: clear quartz, citrine, bloodstone, snowflake obsidian
Making magical spiced hot chocolate
There is nothing more heartwarming than a cup of spiced hot chocolate. A lovely drink for all these cold months and the recipe can match your taste preferences. You can add as many or as few spices as you wish. I like to use a bit of chili to give extra heating power to my drink.
- chocolate powder
- milk of your preference
- something sweet: sugar, honey, agave syrup, etc.
- Pinch of salt
You can start by boiling all your chosen spices in 500ml of water. I usually do it for 7-10 minutes and then add my raw chocolate powder. After that, I boil it for an extra 2-3 minutes stirring and then turn off the heating. My favorite milk to go with hot chocolate is either rice or coconut. In the end, I sweeten the drink and serve it. Feel free to experiment with proportions and spices until you find your golden center.
Count your blessings
Yuletide has always been associated with inner work and the renewal of the cycle. This is a great time for making a gratitude list and entering into a new year with a thankful heart.
Dedicate some quiet time to make a list of blessings that happened in the last year. Count all the help that you received during the past 12 months. Try to acknowledge events and people that helped you become better and more in tune with yourself. Each small action counts.
One of my favorite daily habits is to make a short gratitude list (either in the morning or in the evening). This simple action helps to establish a positive mindset and bring more peace into your life. I also realized that by doing this daily habit automatically I attracted more things to be grateful about. Maybe this would be a great resolution to try in the New Year.
When you make your year-long list of positive events and actions, try to give back to people. Do something that will make them happy. Even a small gift or a positive thought can change someone’s life for the better! Remember about that 🙂
Writing New Year resolutions
December is a great month to summarize the previous year and set resolutions and intentions for the next 12 months. There are many ways to make this task a little more magical. You can for example make a special ritual where you write down all the wishes and decorate a Yule Tree with it. Some people like to write intentions and burn them together with the Yule Log.
How to decide what our true selves really want to accomplish? Choose some quiet time and meditate for a while. This will act as an energy amplifier and you will be able to focus on the goals with more ease. You can burn a candle and surround yourself with your favorite music and scents. Ask yourself: what would make me happy in the upcoming months? What would be my step-by-step guide? How others will benefit from my actions? What are the priorities for the upcoming year?
For centuries Yuletide was a time for celebration and great feasts. People gathered around the table to spend time with family and friends, drinking and eating festive dishes. In old Germanic and Scandinavian cultures, the Yule celebration lasted for 12 days and was abundant in meat and root vegetable dishes.
Personally, I don’t recommend overusing meat in your diet, especially nowadays with the abundance of fresh products all year round. Many great vegetarian dishes can be prepared during that time. A tasty vegetable stew or casserole would be a great addition to your celebration.
Other foods that were common during that time were all sorts of cakes and sweets. You might want to try a traditional Yule Log Cake recipe or Gingerbread Cookies.
Making a bonfire
One of the most common Yule traditions is to celebrate around the bonfire. This act represents overcoming the dark months with an element of fire that symbolizes the return of the Sun.
If you have a group of friends or a family, you can invite them to Winter Solstice. For me, Yule 2023 holds a super magical time where you can observe the conjunction of two massive planets in our solar system. On the 21st of December, you can prepare a special bonfire night combined with watching this rare astrological event. Jupiter and Saturn will join forces together in 0st Aquarius, beginning a new era of information, spiritual understanding, and progress.
Mark that day in your calendar and enjoy this beautiful time outdoors.
Yule Decorations – Candles
If you cannot make a bonfire this year, you could decorate your house with candlelight instead. When I lived in Norway, I enjoyed this tradition so much. Even though the days were short and super cold, we managed to stay positive by bringing a bit of natural light every evening.
Even though I highly recommend natural soy or beeswax candles, any of them will do the job. Light your way up through the shortest day of the year and enjoy Yule 2023 in the warmth of your home.
Maybe you could have dinner with your loved ones enjoying the subtle light of candles. There is something really magical about celebrating this time away from artificial lights and disruptions. Feel it as if you went back in time to connect with your ancestors during this longest night of all.
Books about Yule (to learn more about Wheel of the Year and Sabbats):
- “Yule: A Celebration of Light and Warmth” – Dorothy Morrison
- “Yule: Rituals, Recipes & Lore for the Winter Solstice” – Susan Pesznecker
- “Celebrating the Seasons of Life: Samhain to Ostara” – Ashleen O’Gaea
- “Year of the Witch: Connecting with Nature’s Seasons through Intuitive Magick” – Temperance Alden
- “The Modern Witchcraft Guide to the Wheel of the Year: From Samhain to Yule, Your Guide to the Wiccan Holidays” – Judy Ann Nock
I hope you enjoyed these ideas for Yule 2023! I prepared a free Grimoire printable for this Sabbath, that you can print out and add to your Book of Shadows. By clicking on the image below you will be directed to the pdf file. If you enjoy my work and printables, you can support the work through a small donation. Thank you!