The Story of Yule

The Story of Yule

How Christianity and Paganism are alike
2159
views

Christmas is, by all means, an extremely diverse holiday. While we fail to notice it most of the time, cultural aspects from all around the world come together and merge into the holiday that we know of as Christmas. Of course, Christmas is a celebration of the birth of Christ, the son of God. However, Christmas isn't as simple as that, especially when gift-giving, reindeer, elves, trees, and snow are thrown into the mix; after all, baby Jesus certainly never saw snow!

This raises the question: where do these aspects come from? While there are many different cultures and religions that have inspired the modern-day celebration of Christmas, one religious celebration stands out the most: the pagan celebration of the winter solstice known as Yule.

Out of all winter celebrations that take place during this time of year, one of the least-recognized seems to be Yule, celebrated by both pagans and Wiccans. Historically celebrated by Germanic pagans, Yule is the celebration of the coming light, which will bear itself when spring arrives. Similarly to Christmas, Yule marks the time in which the new year begins, as seen in the wheel of the year.

As with most Sabbats, we pagans decorate our altar (our sacred place of worship) in honor of the holiday:

When you look at these pagan altars, you can see the similarities between Yule and Christmas imagery: snow, ribbons, candles, evergreens, etc. My personal altar features similar aspects, such as candles, ornaments, and even a small tree.

Of course, you probably noticed the strange logs featured in each of these images. These are known to pagans as (not surprisingly) Yule Logs, which actually are an ancient Celtic phallic symbol (ancient paganism was quite fond of phallic symbols). The use of phallic symbols in Yule comes from the fact that Yule is considered to be the day of rebirth of the Horned God, who, in turn, symbolizes the sun. Of course, considering that the days after yule will be longer and the nights shorter, it makes sense that ancient Pagans would believe this to be, quite literally, the birth of the sun.

Yule logs are one of the many pagan symbols that have made their way into the modern Christmas; after all, one of the most popular Christmas dishes is the Yule log cake.

Somewhat less apetizing after realizing what it represents...


Since these pagan traditions came from primarily Germanic regions, symbols such as snow, reindeer, and evergreen trees came to represent the season. Of course, since Yule is the celebration of the coming of the light, candles were a very prominent symbol to the pagans of the past. To modern pagans, not only candles, but also artificial lights uphold the symbolism of the Horned god.

Yule, like most other Sabbats, is a massive celebration, celebrated with caroling, wassailing, mistletoe, and gifts, as well as prayers and elaborate rituals performed to honor the coming of the Horned God, one of the primary Wiccan deities. Gift-giving was very prominent in the Roman holiday Saturnalia, which was adopted by the Germanic pagans, and, finally, adopted by the Christians.

Of course, many Christians are horrified at the realization that their holy day is so similar to a pagan holiday. However, it is important to remember that history isn't always exclusive; cultures have always merged and split over time, and customs have always been adopted and abandoned. This does not mean that Yule is Christian, nor that Christmas is Pagan; it is simply a similarity developed due to cultural exchanges. Some other similarities between Pagan and Christian traditions are Ostara and Easter, as well as Lughnasadh and Thanksgiving.

It's so easy to alienate those who have different customs than us, but it's of upmost importance that we remember that, within all of our differences, we can cherish the things that bring us together. Merry Christmas, Happy Hannukkah, Joyous Kwanzaa, and Blessed Yule.

Cover Image Credit: https://ueat.utoronto.ca

Popular Right Now

8 Reasons Why My Dad Is the Most Important Man In My Life

Forever my number one guy.
66155
views

Growing up, there's been one consistent man I can always count on, my father. In any aspect of my life, my dad has always been there, showing me unconditional love and respect every day. No matter what, I know that my dad will always be the most important man in my life for many reasons.

1. He has always been there.

Literally. From the day I was born until today, I have never not been able to count on my dad to be there for me, uplift me and be the best dad he can be.

2. He learned to adapt and suffer through girly trends to make me happy.

I'm sure when my dad was younger and pictured his future, he didn't think about the Barbie pretend pageants, dressing up as a princess, perfecting my pigtails and enduring other countless girly events. My dad never turned me down when I wanted to play a game, no matter what and was always willing to help me pick out cute outfits and do my hair before preschool.

3. He sends the cutest texts.

Random text messages since I have gotten my own cell phone have always come my way from my dad. Those randoms "I love you so much" and "I am so proud of you" never fail to make me smile, and I can always count on my dad for an adorable text message when I'm feeling down.

4. He taught me how to be brave.

When I needed to learn how to swim, he threw me in the pool. When I needed to learn how to ride a bike, he went alongside me and made sure I didn't fall too badly. When I needed to learn how to drive, he was there next to me, making sure I didn't crash.

5. He encourages me to best the best I can be.

My dad sees the best in me, no matter how much I fail. He's always there to support me and turn my failures into successes. He can sit on the phone with me for hours, talking future career stuff and listening to me lay out my future plans and goals. He wants the absolute best for me, and no is never an option, he is always willing to do whatever it takes to get me where I need to be.

6. He gets sentimental way too often, but it's cute.

Whether you're sitting down at the kitchen table, reminiscing about your childhood, or that one song comes on that your dad insists you will dance to together on your wedding day, your dad's emotions often come out in the cutest possible way, forever reminding you how loved you are.


7. He supports you, emotionally and financially.

Need to vent about a guy in your life that isn't treating you well? My dad is there. Need some extra cash to help fund spring break? He's there for that, too.

8. He shows me how I should be treated.

Yes, my dad treats me like a princess, and I don't expect every guy I meet to wait on me hand and foot, but I do expect respect, and that's exactly what my dad showed I deserve. From the way he loves, admires, and respects me, he shows me that there are guys out there who will one day come along and treat me like that. My dad always advises me to not put up with less than I deserve and assures me that the right guy will come along one day.

For these reasons and more, my dad will forever be my No. 1 man. I love you!

Related Content

Connect with a generation
of new voices.

We are students, thinkers, influencers, and communities sharing our ideas with the world. Join our platform to create and discover content that actually matters to you.

Learn more Start Creating

11 Scary Phrases You, A College Student, Will Hear In Class Before Halloween

It's spooky time, Witches.

107562
views

Even though it's the beginning of September, college students have to deal with scary things all day, every day, regardless if it's Halloween or not, contrary to popular belief.

Not only do college students have to deal with overwhelming amounts of homework, but life really can be hard, why lie?

If school work doesn't frustrate you to the ends of the earth, friend drama, family drama, or just having an awful moment can turn your good day into one of the worst ones in history.

When it comes to bad days, all's fair in love and war, unfortunately.

Sometimes your soul will skyrocket out of the atmosphere because you're just so frustrated, while other time's you'll just give up on the spot, but whatever the case may be, it's going to be OK.

There's plenty of people on this world that relate to your pain. We understand.

Here's to all the spooky things you'll hear before Halloween.

1. "Single Spaced Essay's." 

That moment when the Professor thinks it's a wonderful idea to introduce a ten-page paper that's not due until Christmas, but it has to be single-spaced.

2. "Did you do the homework?" 

Uh - what homework?

3. "Hey, your Student Loans called." 

I can pay them back with my three dollars, right?

4. "The wifi isn't working." 

Scenario: It's 11:50 p.m. on the day your assignment's due, and your WiFi cut off just as you were about to press submit. Spooky.

5. "Are you ready for the midterm?" 

Let's be real, when is anyone really ready for Midterms?

6. "This is a group-related project." 

Why can't I just do my work alone? I'm not the only one that can't function with group projects, right?

7. "What are you doing after graduation?" 

If you asked me what I wanted to do in the future three years ago, I could've responded. Now, I'm just taking it day by day, my dude.

8. "Have you seen my headphones?" 

The worst feeling ever is trying to find your headphones, only to realize they're missing.

9. *Looks at Tuition Fees* 

Why? Just, why?

10. "I won't be here to teach the class, but you still have to come." 

Why can't you just cancel class? Please?

11. "I hope everyone did the reading for today. Pop Quiz!" 

Darn it.

Related Content

Facebook Comments