Yule and Winter Solstice 2021 Rituals, History, and Traditions You Need To Know

Yule and Winter Solstice - Traditions, How To Celebrate, Rituals, & Decoration Ideas The Peculiar Brunette

Yule and Winter Solstice is the most magical time of the year! However, it can also be one of the most stressful. Remember to take a moment to notice the beauty that is all around right now. Reflect on the current position of the Winter Solstice sun and feel its light shining down on you.

Nature is slowing down and so should you. Be still and observe the peaceful silence and renewal taking place.

Engage all your senses, take deep breathes, and really be present. Pause for a few moments to look at the beautiful sparkling lights, listen to your favorite winter song, smell the cold crisp air mixed with the scent of cinnamon or pine, taste your favorite warm drink, or snuggle up with a cozy blanket. Turn off electronics and just be still.

Many Pagans, Witches, and those interested in Nature Spirituality celebrate the seasonal cycles. Sometimes referred to as the Pagan holidays or the Wheel of the Year, consisting of eight celebrations. Four of these festivals (ImbolcBeltaneLughnasadh, and Samhain) are rooted in Celtic history and origins.

The other four (Spring EquinoxSummer SolsticeAutumn Equinox, and Winter Solstice) represent the sun’s location. I created a complete guide to each season, including history, traditions, symbols, correspondences, ritual ideas, and how you can celebrate.

Please note that I make every effort to ensure this information is correct and accurate through my own experiences and by referencing the sources listed at the bottom of this article.

Posts on this site may contain affiliate links that allow me to earn a small commission from the purchases you make (at no extra cost to you!)

When is Yule and Winter Solstice?

In 2021, Yule and Winter Solstice takes place on December 21st in the Northern Hemisphere (June 21st for the Southern Hemisphere).

What is Winter Solstice?

Winter Solstice (also known as Yule) is a Pagan celebration that pre-dates Christianity and is one of the earliest holidays to celebrate Winter.

Pagan And Witchy Planner 2022 Printable PDF

Pagan and Witchy Planner Printable 2022 The Peculiar Brunette
This printable includes (56 pages) – Monthly planner, Weekly planner, Daily planner, Notes page (blank and lined), Blank journaling page,
½ page seasonal holidays spread to put on your altar and correspondences list, Spiritual habit tracking, Calendar monthly overview including US holidays, Canadian holidays, Mercury Retrogrades, Moon Phases, and Eclipses. Affirmations page,
365 daily journal prompts for goal setting, manifesting, easing anxiety, shadow work, and living in harmony with the seasons and moon cycles. Monthly Things That Made Me Smile page (supplement to 365 journal prompts), Affirmation bookmarks, Word of the year page, and original printable artwork of Medusa for your altar or to include in your planner.

How Do You Pronounce Yule and Winter Solstice

Yule is pronounced Yool, and Winter Solstice is pronounced Win-ter Saal-stuhs

“Yule” came from the Norse word hweol, meaning wheel. The Norse believed that the sun was a great wheel of fire that rolled towards and then away from the earth.

History – Christmas Traditions Worldwide
Yule and Pagan Winter Solstice History and Traditions Snowflake The Peculiar Brunette

Yule and Winter Solstice Spiritual Meaning

The spiritual meaning of Winter Solstice is celebrating the longest and darkest night is here, and the slow return of the sun is upon us. We look forward to the brighter and warmer days ahead.

However, one needs to only look outside to see Nature’s reminder of slumber and dormancy. Now is a time for rest, reflection, growth, and being fully present during this beautiful season.

Allow yourself to fully experience your thoughts, feelings, and emotions. Only then can you begin to understand your darkness that may need healing. Working through these shadows allows transformation and emergence of inner strength, enlightenment, and wonderful beginnings.

Trust your emotions to inspire you because they are authentic, raw, and pure. Here in the stillness and quiet calm of Winter embrace healing, rest, and deep reflection. 

Is Winter Solstice Pagan?

Winter Solstice (sometimes referred to as Yule) has been revered by many different people and cultures for thousands of years. The Egyptians celebrated the reappearance of Ra (the sun god), the Romans celebrated Saturnalia honoring Saturn (the agricultural god), and the Old Norse celebration of Jól which consisted of a twelve-day feast. In fact, historically, many of the celebrations lasted several days and in some cases, twelve!

Winter Solstice is when darkness and night have reached their peak. The longest night is here, daylight hours are few, and a cold chill creeps into our bones. However, from this point on each day will grow longer and warmer. We now celebrate the return of the light.

Our ancestors had to plan and prepare well before Winter to ensure their food would last through the cold Winter months. Failure to do so meant one thing: death. With the hard preparation complete, Winter Solstice was a time for rest and reflection. Just like animals in the wild, our ancestors hibernated as well. Living in sync with the land and fully embracing the cold Winter days. They rose and slept with the sun which helped to preserve supplies like candles, firewood, and oil.

I’m often asked if Christmas is a pagan holiday and if it is, why does it take place on December 25th?

The word Christmas is derived from the Old English Cristes maesse, “Christ’s mass.” There is no certain tradition of the date of Christ’s birth.

Christian chronographers of the 3rd century believed that the creation of the world took place at the spring equinox, then reckoned as March 25.

Hence, the new creation in the Incarnation (i.e., the conception) and death of Christ must therefore have occurred on the same day, with his birth following nine months later at the winter solstice, December 25. 

Britannica – Church year – Christianity

Keep reading the Winter Solstice traditions below, and decide for yourself if Christmas is rooted in paganism beliefs.

Yule and Winter Solstice Traditions

There are many modern holiday traditions today that are rooted in Pagan origins. Let’s take a look at a few and dive into their origins!

Pagan Yule Log

A Yule log is perfect for celebrating Winter Solstice, and a great way to add spiritual intentions into your holiday decorations. However, where did Yule log traditions begin?

Burning a Yule log is believed to have originated in ancient Norse and Germanic winter celebrations. During this winter tradition, it was customary to toss a large log onto the hearth on the evening of the winter solstice to welcome the return of the sun each year. Check out this article to learn more about Yule logs and how to make your own.

I also found this article from the BBC stating Yule logs have a Celtic history as well.

It was also the Druids who began the tradition of the yule log. The Celts thought that the sun stood still for twelve days in the middle of winter and during this time a log was lit to conquer the darkness, banish evil spirits and bring luck for the coming year.

BBC Religions – Winter Solstice

Mistletoe

Another modern tradition with Pagan origins includes Mistletoe. (Remember not to consume as its berries are poisonous).

Although considered a parasite when found in Nature, Mistletoe has been used in Winter celebrations for many years.

The god Saturn was revered in ancient Rome, and fertility ceremonies and rituals were performed under the mistletoe to appease him. Those Romans sure knew how to party huh?

Mistletoe has long been thought to have magical properties by Celtic and Teutonic people. It was believed to promote healing and encourage fertility. Mistletoe was placed in homes by the Celts to bring prosperity and fight off evil spirits.

In some parts of Europe the midsummer gathering of mistletoe is still associated with the burning of bonfires, a remnant of sacrificial ceremonies performed by ancient priests, the Druids. Mistletoe was once believed to have magic powers as well as medicinal properties.

Britannica – Mistletoe

Druids harvested Mistletoe during the waxing phase of the moon and fed it to livestock in order to ensure their fertility. 

Later in England, during the Victorian era, mistletoe cuttings were often hung in doorways during the winter holidays. If someone was spotted standing beneath the mistletoe, they would be kissed by another person in the room. This was quite exciting because this was considered improper in typical Victorian culture.

Pagan Winter Solstice Mistletoe Origins The Peculiar Brunette

Winter Spirits

While Santa Claus may be the first that comes to mind, there are many different otherworldly Winter spirits and mythology associated with the Yule season. Here are a few popular ones!

Krampus

Krampus is sometimes referred to as the demon of Christmas who punishes naughty children. He’s the dark companion to Saint Nicholas, and his legend has been around for centuries and is part of Austrian folklore.

Krampus is often celebrated every December 5th called Krampusnacht and often involves a Krampuslauf (Krampus run).

There are many misconceptions around Krampus, especially the Americanized versions. If you’d like to learn more about Krampus origins and legends, check out this post.

Ded Moroz

Ded Moroz has origins in Russian and many Slavic countries. Initially associated with Winter, Ded Moroz evolved through time from a medley of harsh Slavic gods into a nicer, sweeter gift-giver comparable to Santa Claus.

He’s often described as an old man that can control the weather and spread illness and is believed to live in Northern Russia somewhere near the White Sea.

In fact, in old Slavic belief, he is the wizard of winter – a kind of embodiment of the harsh season itself. He is also known as the Snow Wizard (because of the fierce snowstorms he can create) or the Snow Demon. In Ukraine and parts of Russia he is also known as Grandfather Frost because of the severe frosts that he creates, in parts of Mongolia he is known as “Grandfather Winter” and is associated with severe and damaging winds, whilst in the Sakha Republic, he is known as the Chys Khan and is usually referred to as “Cold Coat” bringing a damaging chill in his wake.

Curran, Bob and Andy Paciorek – Spirits of the Season

Grýla

Grýla is an Iceland ogre, troll, or witch, whose origins are thought to date back to the 13th century.

She is said to be a hideous and terrifying cannibalistic figure with fifteen tails, three eyes, and scales like a reptile. Grýla has a special fondness for eating misbehaving or disrespectful children during the winter season.

Santa Claus

Santa Claus is largely based on St. Nicholas, a fourth-century bishop who was the patron saint of children, the impoverished, and prostitutes.

The legend of Santa Claus can be traced back hundreds of years to a monk named St. Nicholas. It is believed that Nicholas was born sometime around 280 A.D. in Patara, near Myra in modern-day Turkey.

Much admired for his piety and kindness, St. Nicholas became the subject of many legends. It is said that he gave away all of his inherited wealth and traveled the countryside helping the poor and sick. 

The name Santa Claus came to fruition from the Dutch nickname, Sinter Klaas.

Washington Irving popularized Sinter Klaas’s in America with tales from his book The History of New York in 1809; similar to when he popularized the fae Dullahan as the Headless Horseman in the Legend of Sleepy Hollow.

It’s also important to note the similarities and connections between Santa Claus and Odin, an important god to the ancient Germanic people.

Odin was frequently portrayed commanding a hunting party through the skies while riding Sleipnir, his eight-legged horse, which brings to mind Santa’s reindeer. Odin was often depicted as an elderly man with a long white beard.

Wassailing

Caroling is a popular holiday tradition but is a part of pagan history called Wassailing (pronounced Wah-sil-ing).

Wassailing started out as a gathering of villagers who would roam through orchards and fields during Winter yelling, dancing, shouting, singing, and banging together pots and pans making as much noise as possible. This would ward off any evil spirits that might disrupt the growth of future crops. Wassailing often included pouring wine and cider on the earth to encourage a bountiful harvest and sometimes fires were lit as well.

The word wassail derives from Old Norse ves heill, meaning “be well, and in good health.” The name has come to be generally applied to any bowl from which a toast is drunk, as well as to the actual drink itself.

Britannica – wassail bowl

By the Middle Ages, wassailing had evolved to mean sharing a large bowl of wassail (mulled mead, cider, or dark beer). This winter celebration changed to a type of begging for alcohol and was a way for Lords or wealthy individuals to give to the poor.

Impoverished or poor villagers would either request to drink from the wealthy individual’s wassailing bowl or carry their own and request that it be filled.

A wassail bowl is a container, usually made of wood, used for toasting on festive events. As you can imagine with that much alcohol, this festivity got pretty rowdy and sometimes resulted in the destruction of property.

By the Victorian era, wassailing had chilled out quite a bit and had shifted to the tradition we now call caroling.

Yule Tree

Yule trees are one of the most popular decorations during the holiday season. However, where did this tradition start, and does it have pagan origins?

Some believe the origins began during the Roman festival, Saturnalia, where metal decorations were frequently placed on outdoor trees. The ornaments usually depicted the god Saturn, or a family’s personal deity.

In Celtic culture, trees were believed to be sacred because spirits, deities, and fae-like creatures lived in them. You’ll see this beautiful theme carried over to the Ogham alphabet as well.

Around the Winter Solstice, a tree was decorated outside and presents were given in celebration of the birth of the sun god. An evergreen tree was chosen as a representation of life’s ability to endure the changing seasons of each year. 

Another origin possibility is rooted from the early Germanic people, where it’s believed that during the Winter Solstice they decked trees with fruit and candles to honor Odin.

Trees have been used in rituals and as decorations since ancient times, thus making the source of the modern Christmas tree open to debate. However, many believe that it originated in Germany.

It is claimed that in Germany about 723 the English missionary St. Boniface encountered pagans preparing a sacrifice at an oak tree dedicated to the god Thor (Donar).

Britannica – How Did the Tradition of Christmas Trees Start?

As Germans moved around the world, they brought Christmas trees with them, including England. Queen  Charlotte, King George III’s German wife, had Yule trees erected and decorated during the 1790s.

However, it was Albert, a German-born prince, and his wife, Queen Victoria of the United Kingdom, who popularized the ritual in English households. 

Yule trees were later popularized in the United States by German settlers, however, the tradition was not immediately accepted.

Due to the holiday’s pagan roots, many Puritans were against it during the 1600s, and the Massachusetts Bay Colony outright banned it for around 20 years. They despised the occasion so much they deliberately closed their churches on December 25th. 

Guess we know who really started the war on Christmas huh? However, they were unable to stop the popularity of Christmas in America, and the first holiday tree was eventually displayed in the 1830s.

If you’d like to learn more about decoration ideas for your Yule tree, check out this post.

Fruitcake

Fruitcake is often the butt of many holiday jokes, and many people collectively seem to despise it. I personally have never tried it, because honestly, it looks gross.

I’ve heard some claims stating ancient Egyptians placed fruitcakes on the tombs of loved ones. While an interesting theory, I’ve been unable to confirm this from a reputable source.

Romans allegedly made energy bars similar to fruitcake by mixing together barley, pomegranate seeds, and different nuts.

However, it seems fruitcake as we know it today can be traced back to the Middle Ages as dehydrated fruit became popular to place in bread. From there, many varieties and modifications began to pop up in different cultures and countries.

Italy’s dense, sweet-and-spicy panforte (literally, “strong bread”) dates back to 13th century Sienna;

Germany’s stollen, a tapered loaf coated with melted butter and powdered sugar that’s more bread-like in consistency, has been a Dresden delicacy since the 1400s and has its own annual festival;

and then there’s black cake in the Caribbean Islands, a boozy descendant of Britain’s plum pudding where the fruit is soaked in rum for months, or even as long as a year. 

Smithsonian

The Holly King and the Oak King

The story of the Holly King and the Oak King is believed to have Celtic origins and celebrates the victory of the Oak King over his brother, the Holly King, both of whom were representative of the seasons.

From Yule to mid-summer, the Oak King reigned over the earth (as the days grew longer) but from mid-summer to Yule, the Holly King gained in power (as days grew shorter and there was less light). The exchange of control over the seasons represented the cyclical nature of life which continued eternally.

World History – Wheel of the Year

However, I personally find this explanation to be a bit vague because the ancient Celtic people celebrated the four fire festivals (Imbolc, Beltane, Lughnasadh, and Samhain).

They did not celebrate the equinoxes or solstices so it doesn’t make sense to me that Celtic people would have told the story of the Holly King and the Oak King.

This story is often a part of more modern Wiccan traditions that I believe are likely inspired by Celtic stories and folklore. However, you’ll have to decide that for yourself, my peculiar friend!

Yule and Winter Solstice Correspondences

Every year during Winter Solstice, witches and Pagans celebrate the longest night and the gradual return of the sun. Here are some Yule correspondences to get you in the holiday spirit!

Winter Solstice Spiritual Intentions

  • Rest
  • Goal setting
  • Gratitude
  • Peace
  • Beginning
  • Renewal
  • Kindness
  • Intense ritual/shadow work
  • Rumination and reflection
  • Self-care
  • Personal development
  • Divination work
  • Rejuvenation
  • Healing
  • Embracing the darkness
  • Solitude
  • Slumber
  • Celebrating with family and loved ones

Winter Solstice Food

  • Citrus Fruits (oranges, lemons, limes, grapefruit, etc)
  • Root Vegetables
  • Baked goods
  • Roasted meat
  • Nuts
  • Dried Fruit
  • Stews
  • Soups
  • Pomegranates
  • Gingerbread
  • Cinnamon or berry breads, cookies, cakes, etc
  • Yule log (Bûche de Noël)
  • Cranberries
  • Apples
Yule and Pagan Winter Solstice Wassail Drinks The Peculiar Brunette

Yule Drinks

  • Eggnog
  • Hot chocolate
  • Mulled wine
  • Wassail
  • Mead
  • Hot buttered rum
  • Spiced apple cider
  • Tea
  • Coffee (warm)

Winter Solstice Colors

  • Dark Green (evergreen)
  • Orange (solar)
  • Red (fire and vitality)
  • Gold and silver (or other metallic colors) (sun or prosperity)
  • White (moon, protection, or ice)
  • Black (darkness or the moon)
  • Blue (ice)

Winter Solstice Botanicals, Herbs, and Greenery

  • Evergreen trees (fir, pine, cedar, spruce, balsam, juniper, etc)
  • Poinsettia
  • Amaryllis
  • Pinecones
  • Mistletoe
  • Birch tree
  • Oaktree
  • Rosemary
  • Holly – believed to ward off evil spirits
  • Ivy
  • Lillies
  • Mint
  • Aspen
  • Rosehips
  • Yew tree
  • Bay leaves
  • Cinnamon
  • Star Anise
  • Cardamom
  • Chamomile
  • Cloves
  • Nutmeg
  • Frankincense
  • Myrrh
  • Sage
Yule and Pagan Winter Solstice Herb Correspondences The Peculiar Brunette

Yule Symbols

  • Twinkling Lights
  • Bells
  • Snowflakes
  • Sun wheels
  • Candles
  • Wreath
  • Sun and stars (orbs, circles, star shapes) – symbolizes the coming of the light and the beginning of the solar year
  • Yule log
  • Snowflakes
  • Pinecone
  • Yule tree
  • Spinning Wheels

Winter Solstice Animals

  • Stag / Deer
  • Bear
  • Goat
  • Reindeer
  • Robins
  • Pig
  • Cow
  • Snow Goose
  • Owl
  • Fox
  • Squirrel
  • Any animal that hibernates
Pagan Winter Solstice Animal Correspondence Deer The Peculiar Brunette

Yule Crystals, Metals, and Stones

  • Ruby
  • Orange calcite
  • Garnet
  • Amethyst
  • Clear quartz
  • Gold
  • Emerald
  • Diamond
  • Bloodstone
  • Green Calcite

Winter Solstice Incense, Candles and Scents

  • Cinnamon
  • Peppermint
  • Cloves
  • Frankincense
  • Myrrh
  • Pine
  • Smoke or Fire
  • Gingerbread
  • Pomegranate
  • Sage
  • Sweet or spicy orange
  • Cedar
  • Ginger
  • Baked apple
Simple Yule and Pagan Winter Solstice Rituals The Peculiar Brunette

Simple Yule and Winter Solstice Rituals

Rituals during spiritual holidays are a wonderful opportunity to slow down, embrace our spirituality, and marvel at the wonders of Nature and the universe. A sacred moment to connect with the current season and our deepest self.

Bonfire

Fire is a wonderful way to celebrate and honor light. By providing this as an offering can attract the warmth of the sun to return once again. A lovely ritual you could incorporate is tossing something into the fire that you’d like to stop or something you’d like to come to fruition. You could write things down on paper or toss something symbolic in!

Baking

This time of year tends to include a ton of baking either with cookies, pies, cakes, or bread. Why not embrace this by including a sigil or rune on the bottom of your chicken pot pie crust? Symbols are a wonderful way to place intentions into your baked treats.

Welcome the Light and Honor the Sun

Welcome and celebrate the sunrise! You can do this outdoors or indoors by a window. Personally, I enjoy bundling up, grabbing my favorite warm beverage, and quietly sitting outside. I think about what I’m grateful for and observe Nature all around me.

Welcome the Light and Honor the Sun Pagan Winter Solstice The Peculiar Brunette

Recognize Nature’s Balance

During Winter, just beneath the pure white snow and barren plants, Nature rests. Quietly building her magickal energy to prepare for Spring. Set your own daily rituals or routines that will help bring balance and rest to your daily life. Remember Winter months can be difficult, especially for those who suffer from seasonal depression. What can you do to mirror Nature? What practices can you incorporate now, to emerge stronger and more energized come Spring?

Bath

I know ritual baths are recommended quite often, but this can truly be a wonderful way to connect spiritually with your Self. It’s a time where you can be left alone (probably) and can focus on your own thoughts, intentions, and breathwork. Make a whole ritual out of the process! Clean your bath/shower beforehand with natural cleaners, play music or frequencies, light candles or incense, bring a journal, use crystals, add some herbs, bath bombs, Epsom salts, or even some sacred Moon Water!

Cleansing

Yule and Winter Solstice is a wonderful time to reflect on the past year and all the stuff you’ve accumulated. As a minimalist, this is one of my favorite things to do! I always feel a huge weight lift when I declutter my home. I normally watch The Minimalism documentary (Netflix) and re-read Marie Kondo’s book – The Life-Changing Magic of Tidying Up. Take a cue from Marie Kondo and do not keep any item that does not bring you joy. This is also a great way to give back to those in need this time of year. Find local charities that can use coats, canned goods, or books!

Personally, I prefer to also deep clean, especially before I start decorating for the holiday season. I’d much rather do the deep cleaning now than right before my family comes over to celebrate. I love to use natural cleaners with symbolic scents depending on my intentions. As you sweep envision all the negative energy you’re sweeping away as well. Once you’re finished, incorporate some of your favorite scents with a smoke cleanse, candle, incense, essential oil, or stovetop potpourri. (Check out the correspondences above for ideas).

Altar or Sacred Space

Get creative and update your altar or sacred space to reflect Yule or Winter Solstice season. Reference the Yule correspondences above for ideas!

TIP – If you’re tight on funds, you can always check out your local thrift store for items. You can find amazing candles, baskets, plates, glasses, candle holders, jars, dishes, etc!

Yule Music or Pagan Winter Solstice Songs on Headphones The Peculiar Brunette

Yule Music or Winter Solstice Songs

You can feel free to celebrate and listen to any songs you choose! I grew up listening to Christmas music and have many happy memories so I still include many of them in my Winter Solstice celebrations. Music is very important to me and I incorporate it in every way possible!

You can find many Yule or Winter Solstice songs online, and some change the lyrics to classic Christmas songs which can be fun too if that’s something you’re interested in.

All the songs I listed below are on Spotify (here’s a link to my playlist for easy reference) and are not based on classic Christmas songs (that I’m aware of). I love instrumental music during the holidays so I included a few of those too! I think these are lovely for the Winter season, if there are any I missed please comment below and let me know!

  • Winter Solstice – Foxtrotter
  • The Solstice Carole – Saffie
  • Winter Moon – Erutan
  • Gaia’s Lullaby – Jaiya (Many other songs on her album Firedance – Songs for Winter Solstice)
  • Witch’s Rune – S. J. Tucker
  • Wintertide – Ola Gjeilo
  • Savage Daughter – Sarah Hester Ross
  • I Heard The Bells (Peace on Earth) – Karina Skye
  • Winter Solstice – Nada Wakes
  • The Dove’s Return – Aine Minogue (Instrumental)
  • Solstice Night – Julianne Marx & Craig Olson
  • In Shadow’s Light – Aine Minogue
  • Snowfall Lullaby – Barbara Higbie (Instrumental)
  • In Praise of Winter – KIVA
  • Winter Solstice – Michele Mclaughlin (Instrumental)
  • Snow – Loreen Mckennitt
  • Solstice Evergreen – Spiral Dance
  • Snow In The Prairies – Torcuato Mariano (Instrumental)
  • Völva Songs Album – Kari Tauring (Click here for the lyrics in English)
  • Midwinter Memories – Michele Mclaughlin (Instrumental)
  • The Christians and the Pagans – Dar Williams
  • Song for a Winter’s Night – Sarah McLachlan
  • Wizards in Winter – Trans-Siberian Orchestra (Instrumental)
  • Greensleeves -An English song that has become attributed to Yule over the years. There are MANY different versions but my favorites are performed by Nolwenn Leroy, Mannheim Steamroller, and any guitar version

How To Celebrate Yule and Winter Solstice

Get Out In Nature

Put on your jacket and gloves and enjoy a stroll out in nature. Take a walk through the local park and feel Nature’s dormant energy around you. Recognize that we too are a part of Nature and are a part of its seasonal cycles. Embrace the cold by building a snowman, making snow angels, going snowboarding, or ice skating.

Where I live in Idaho we have a botanical garden, a 14-acre garden that they decorate with over 400,000 energy-efficient lights. Depending on the day Santa or carolers might be there. They also serve hot chocolate and have a train display. Maybe you have something similar in your area!

You could even see if there are any local sleigh rides. Around here, I’ve seen plenty of Groupon offers for them.

Figure out a way to include Nature this time of year. She has a way of connecting to and rejuvenating your soul.

How To Celebrate Yule and  Pagan Winter Solstice The Peculiar Brunette

Yule Tree Picnic

Place blankets and pillows in front of your holiday tree and turn off all the lights, except for the lights on the tree. Enjoy that beautiful glow with friends and family. Eat delicious food or treats! Remember to get lots of beautiful photos to cherish later.

When we were young, my little sister and I would get up early in the morning on the weekends and eat cinnamon Pop-Tarts in front of our holiday tree. We’d talk about the angel on top protecting our home, enjoy the beautiful glow of the lights, and giggle beneath the tree. It’s a memory I will always cherish.

Grimoire, Wiccan Book of Shadows, and Spiritual Journal

If you haven’t started a Grimoire, Wiccan Book of Shadows, or spiritual journal, now is a great time to start! Winter Solstice is a time for deep internal work. Creating your own Grimoire or Wiccan Book of Shadows is an amazing way to incorporate your spiritual beliefs and intentions into one amazing and magickal reference tool. A book to bring together all your knowledge and ideas into one sacred place. If you’re looking for ideas on what to include in your spiritual book, check out this blog post for inspiration!

If you’d like some Yule and Winter Solstice journal prompts ideas check out this blog post here for 20+ ideas and inspiration to get you started

Fireplace or Bonfire

I’ve found that gathering around a warm fire for the Winter Solstice and contemplating this past year and planning for next is one of my favorite ways to celebrate. That soft crackle is soothing and makes me wonder what my ancestors may have thought about while gathered around the warm fire as well.

Home decorating

Welcome the Winter season into your home! When it comes to decorating for Yule and Winter Solstice it’s all about colors, symbolism, and light!

Another lovely and symbolic way to decorate for Winter Solstice is a Yule Log that you can burn later. If you’d like more information and to see my twist on the classic Yule Log, check out this post here!

Yule and winter solstice pagan yule log to burn the peculiar brunette

Meditation

I love finding guided meditations on YouTube, Spotify, or in a meditation app. Especially when we’re transitioning from one season to the next. I feel like it grounds me and gets me mentally prepared for the coming months ahead.

Playing games

My favorite way to celebrate and spend the holidays with my family is to play games! Card games are my absolute favorite, especially Phase 10 but the rest of my family is partial to Farkle. We like the pocket-size version because it travels well! There is nothing better than eating snacks, telling stories, laughing, and playing card games with people you love! Isn’t that what the holidays are all about anyway?

Crafts and Hobbies

Use your creativity to craft some beautiful Yule and Winter Solstice decorations or create gifts for loved ones! Here are a few ideas:

  • Create cards to send to friends and loved ones
  • DIY ornaments or decor
  • Create smoke cleansers using corresponding herbs
  • Start flower bulbs like Amaryllis – truly gorgeous and lovely to remember that Spring will come again.
  • Create Yule and Winter Solstice Sachets – a great way to use any bit of fabric scraps you have and fill them with aromatic herbs. Place them in dresser drawers or under your pillow.
How To Decorate Home Yule and Pagan Winter Solstice The Peculiar Brunette

How To Have A (Stress-Less) Present & Mindful Yule and Winter Solstice Holiday

Toss Out Perfectionism and Lower Your Expectations

“Expectation is the root of all heartache” – William Shakespeare

Do you really enjoy running around and stressing out about cleaning your house, hosting a flawless party or dinner, or finding the “perfect” expensive gift?

When you visit a friend or family member’s home did you come to see and talk to them or to inspect the cleanliness levels of their home? We both know it’s the former and not the latter (hopefully). Try to remember that and be kind to yourself when the perfectionism beast starts rising within you.

Pre-plan everything that you can within reason

I know this one is a little long but stick with me here because I think it’s one of the most important. Which is apparently why I’m about to give a lecture on it. LOL!

This step can be difficult if you’re a perfectionist like me. Trust me, I can take pre-planning to a whole other level of stressful.

However, what I mean is simplifying certain processes to make sure you have more time to spend with family and friends. Let me give you a few examples and ideas:

Keep It Simple 

My mom is an excellent cook and so every holiday you would find her in the kitchen cooking every meal. That’s right, not hanging out with us playing games and laughing or enjoying the holiday. Any offer to help was quickly swept away because you’d just be in the way. It wasn’t until I was older and hosting my own parties or dinners that I realized I was missing out on all the action! It broke my heart to think my mom had been doing the same for years. (Love you mom, thanks for letting me use you as an example).

So I started figuring out what I really wanted to make for meals and how I could involve my favorite kitchen tool – the crockpot. In fact, even as a minimalist, I have two. Can you put breakfast in the crockpot the night before so it’s ready first thing in the morning?

Maybe make Strata like Sarah Jessica Parker’s character does in “The Family Stone”. You can make it the night before in a casserole dish and let it sit overnight in the fridge. On Yule morning, you can just pop it in the oven!

I think you get where I’m going with this. The point is don’t go overboard and plan a bunch of specialty recipes. Keep it simple. Take it from me, we’d rather have you hanging out with us and enjoying the holiday than in the kitchen.

Batch your time

So this is a topic that comes up frequently in work environments, but it totally applies here. Let me give you some examples:

  1. Wrap all your gifts at one time and when all your supplies are out and in one place. My mom does this all the time. She always puts each gift in the box it was going to be wrapped in and labels it with the name or initials of the recipient. That way when it was time to wrap presents, there is no confusion over whose gift is whose. Plus sneaky eyes can’t see their gifts early!
  2. I know I love a great DIY gift whether it’s to give or get. If you’ve got a few people on your list try to think of one thing they would all appreciate. As an example, say you choose to make DIY bath salts for everyone. This is so much more simple and time-saving because everything is completed all at once when all the supplies are out. It also saves you money because you aren’t buying a bunch of random items. Just specific ones for bath salts like containers, salt, dried herbs, or essential oils.
  3. The women in my family do a cookie exchange every December. Instead of having everyone come over with all their bowls, mixing spoons, and utensils, I have them come with their dough pre-mixed. We also avoid cookies that needed extra supplies for decorating like sugar cookies. That way all we really have to do is place the cookies on baking sheets or stones to bake, while we have snacks, chat, laugh, and exchange cookies. You could take this a step further and pre-bake the cookies, but I think the day loses its magic without the scent of freshly baked cookies in the air.
Have A Present & Mindful Yule and Pagan Winter Solstice Holiday

Know your limits and don’t over-schedule yourself

It’s so easy to want to DO ALL THE THINGS! Drive around seeing the lights, go to your neighbor’s potluck, volunteer, your employer’s holiday party, etc. Maybe you’re very extroverted and love all the engagement. Maybe you’re an introvert and find all that to be overwhelming. Know yourself and your family. It’s ok to say no to events, trust me people understand.

If they don’t and insist on a reason, tell them you’re busy minding your own business and maybe they should try it. LOL!

Just kidding don’t say that, be honest and say that you’re very overwhelmed with activities this time of year and you just don’t think you’ll have the time. If things change they will be the first one you’ll call. If they still hassle you remember NO is a complete sentence and you aren’t required to give them a reason why.

Give back

I’ve always believed that the true meaning of the holiday season is spending time with loved ones and spreading kindness and cheer. That’s some serious Winter magick!

I love finding charities that support my local area! Every Thanksgiving my mom, sister, and I spread out the newspaper with one section in mind. A local charity (Soroptimist) has a section for donations to a local Senior or Foster child. For privacy reasons each Senior or Foster child is assigned a number, but they list what they’d like to receive as a gift.

Some of the requests are so simple they will instantly humble you. Requests like socks or a warm blanket. We each pick one or multiple depending on what we can do that year and the following morning we go Black Friday shopping for them. It’s a fun tradition and really makes you grateful for what you have. It also keeps you in check while observing the Black Friday madness.

If you’re tight on funds this year, even meditating on positive thoughts for a loved one is a wonderful way to give back! Give them a call, just to chat, because Winter can be a lonely season. Devoting your time, beautiful spirit, and magickal energy will manifest more peace, love, and kindness to the world! That is definitely something worth celebrating!

If you’d like to read more about Spreading Yule Winter Solstice Holiday Magic and Kindness check out this blog post!

Go With The Flow

Don’t feel the need to plan out every detail of the season. Spontaneity can create some of the most magical moments and best memories! Especially if it ends up a total bomb and doesn’t work out at all. Don’t be afraid to let your hair down and enjoy the moment!

Yule and Pagan Winter Solstice Holiday Memories with Family and Friends The Peculiar Brunette

Share Favorite Holiday Memories with Family and Friends

Speaking of making memories, why not have your family and friends share their favorites? Maybe you’ll hear your parent or grandparent tell a story from when they were a kid you’ve never heard before! Maybe your spouse, sibling, or kids will remember something you’d totally forgotten. It’s a great way to share a laugh and create new memories together.

You can check out more of the Pagan Seasonal Wheel series here:

Yule & Winter Solstice

Midwinter & Imbolc

Spring Equinox

Summer Solstice & Litha

Lughnasadh & Lammas

Autumn Equinox

Samhain & Halloween

I wish you the happiest memories with friends and family. I hope your Winter Solstice is truly magical and as always remember…..

The Peculiar Brunette

Sources

BBC Religions. Winter Solstice. 07 June 2006. https://www.bbc.co.uk/religion/religions/paganism/holydays/wintersolstice.shtml

Tikkanen, Amy. “How Did the Tradition of Christmas Trees Start? “. Encyclopedia Britannica, https://www.britannica.com/story/how-did-the-tradition-of-christmas-trees-start.

Editors at History.com. Christmas Traditions Worldwide. 27 October 2009. https://www.history.com/topics/christmas/christmas-traditions-worldwide

Britannica, The Editors of Encyclopaedia. “mistletoe”. Encyclopedia Britannica, 20 Aug. 2021, https://www.britannica.com/plant/mistletoe.

Curran, Bob and Andy Paciorek. Spirits of the Season. Dremour Press. 20 November 2020

Britannica, The Editors of Encyclopaedia. “wassail bowl”. Encyclopedia Britannica, 28 Oct. 2015, https://www.britannica.com/topic/wassail-bowl.

Rhodes, Jesse. Fruitcake 101: A Concise Cultural History of This Loved and Loathed Loaf. Smithsonian magazine. 21 December 2010. https://www.smithsonianmag.com/arts-culture/fruitcake-101-a-concise-cultural-history-of-this-loved-and-loathed-loaf-26428035/

Shepherd, Massey H.. “church year”. Encyclopedia Britannica, 8 Nov. 2019, https://www.britannica.com/topic/church-year.

History.com Editors. Santa Claus. HISTORY. 16 February 2010. https://www.history.com/topics/christmas/santa-claus

Mark, Joshua. Wheel of the Year. World History Encyclopedia. 28 Jan 2019. https://www.worldhistory.org/Wheel_of_the_Year/

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4 Comments

  1. I loved this article and all your wisdom! thanks a million you have an amazing a beautiful work.

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