First of all i would like to talk about this season that is upon us, the Christmas, what in truth is this season, its roots, its importance and the true spirit of it.
Our ancestors have celabrated this season long before christ had even born, and still today all the free people with no christian belifs, still do, this is not the time where Jesus Christ had born, he was a real man all right, but no one realy knows the time of his birth.
When the Christian church started to spread all over Europe, they have adopted this season from the pagans and adapted its time to the story of jesus, they have invented this all thing that christ had born in the 24th of december, so that the pagans would see any meaning in the story and see that an important figure had born in this special day of their celebrations, it was a way to infiltrate Christianity into the so old roots of the free european peoples, and this was the start of the forgetfulness and almost the oblivion of the pagan roots.
Just as our pagan cousins the Celts celebrate the eight major sabbats that comprise the Wheel of the Year, for those of us in the Northern Tradition we too have somewhat similar key celebrations that we call holy tides (from the Old Norse hátíðir). Some of these celebrations are more significant and special than others, and these especially important holy-days are known as high holy tides.
Of these three documented High Holy Tides, it is Yule that far and away seems the most sacred to modern practitioners in the Northern Tradition, if for no other reason than so many of the ‘Christmas’ traditions that have survived into the present day. While the association of Christ with this ancient pagan holiday came about in Roman times as connected to the festival of Saturnalia and the Mithraic cult, the spread of Christianity into Europe brought the pagan customs in the root cultures of the Northern Tradition (Germania, Scandinavia, and Anglo-Saxon England) into direct connection with the newly Christianized holiday export. While some aspects of other pagan solstice practices were common throughout, it is explicitly a number of Northern Tradition practices that we see surviving in our modern Christmas traditions, including: carols, feasting and drinking, gift-giving, Santa Claus (and other variants), evergreen decorations and the Yule log.
If you’ve ever heard the Christmas Carol “The Twelve Days of Christmas” modern heathens opt to celebrate this as the Twelve Days of Yule, with the last day culminating on 12th Night. Since ancient calendars followed a different method of time, the solstice celebrations as well as later ‘Christmasy’ style observances can vary from place to place as to when they occur. Today, most pagans and heathens celebrate the yuletide as running from approximately December 20 – December 31 (but there are variations).
We do know that the celebration of Yule wasn’t always twelve days long. In the Norse text Heimskringla: The Saga of Hakon the Good talks about it once lasting for three days, or as long as the ale lasted. The night it began was known as the slaughter night, where animals would be ritually slain. Their meat later used to feed the community, as well as the Gods. It was King Hakon of Norway, who as a Christian passed a law that the Christian Christmas Day (which was already a weird bastardization of the Christian story of the Nativity and Saturnalia/Mithraic customs) and the pagan yuletide celebrations were to henceforth be celebrated at the same time. While this only specifically impacted Norway (and its territories), it illustrates an intentional combining of the holy-days into one celebration.
These 12 nights are:
- Mother’s Night
- The Winter Solstice (and/or The Wild Hunt)
- Virtue – Courage
- Virtue – Truth
- Virtue – Honor
- Virtue – Fidelity
- Virtue – Hospitality
- Virtue – Discipline
- Virtue – Industriousness
- Virtue – Self-Reliance
- Virtue – Perseverance
- Twelfth Night
This celebration is also the time where winter begins, the dark nights of the world, and at the first day of Yule, the day and the night have the same hours, and after that the sun starts to grow in power and light, and the days will grow again, till we reach spring and the rebirth of nature. It is a time to survive, and to thank to the Gods and to Nature for all the good things you have got, all the food you have gathered to your family, the importance to be with your loved ones, happy and cozy. All you have made throughout the year, is reflected in these hard days of could, where nature is cruel and there is no way to escape its powers.