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Subscribe to this list via RSS Blog posts tagged in Thirteen Days of Yule

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Burning Yule

In some places, Yule goes out with a blaze.

Where my parents live, there's a drop-off point in the parking lot at one of the local malls. Yule trees, wreaths, and swags of greenery—now beginning to dry—accumulate there.

And on the Saturday after Thirteen Night—brought to you courtesy of the local fire department—old Yule goes out in a blaze of glory.

Bold Yuletide is past, Thirteenth Night is the last.

So we bid you adieu: great joy to the New.

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Posted by on in Culture Blogs
Warlock Songs

On the morning of Thirteenth Day, the warlocks sit in the sauna and sing their warlocks: varð-lokkur, their songs of power.

They sing up the Sun, in its years and days.

They sing up the seeds, and the harvest to be.

They sing up the lambing, the calving, the fawning.

At the turning of winter, the warlocks sing summer.

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Posted by on in Culture Blogs
The Long Farewell

Around here there's a social institution known as the Minnesota Long Goodbye, a fixture of local Politeness culture. “Well, guess we'll be heading out,” you say. But you can't leave yet; that would imply that you aren't enjoying the company, and are eager to go. 5 minutes later, you stand up. 5 minutes after that you put on your coat. Another 5, and you go to the door. Leaning against the door-jamb, you talk for yet another 5. Then you actually leave.

Yule is like that. This year the last of the Thirteen Nights was January 2; the Merry Monarch of Misrule (in her Steampunk crown) presided over one final debauch, and we sang the old Yule songs for the last time this season. Time to head on out, I guess.

But Yule itself has yet to come down. The tree and other appurtenances generally go up in mid-December and linger until mid-January or so: about a month, a twelving of the year. (By long-standing household tradition, our tree finally comes down on King Day: no work, no school.) Here in the Northlands, Yule ushers in the coldest, most housebound time of the year: “As the days grow longer, the cold grows stronger” goes the saying. (Variant: “As the day lengthens, the cold strengthens.”) On the couch the other night, I closed the novel I'd just finished reading, turned off the light, and laid back in quiet appreciation of the Yule Tree's ongoing beauty and magic: a fountain of light in the heart of darkest winter.

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Posted by on in Culture Blogs
Cowan Yule

The single best defense against Christmas is a good Yule.

I sometimes worry that I live too much in the pagan ghetto. Most of my friends are pagan; I live in a pagan home, immersed from day to day and from season to season in pagan culture. I know that there's a wide world of non-pagans out there. But after all these years, I also know who my people are, where my home is, and what my work is.

Midwinter's Eve our job is to bring the Sun up out of the Dark. We sing the Sun down, we light the fire; we dance, we sing, we keep the fire-watch through all the long night. 7:47 a. m. Midwinter's Day will find us out on the east pedestrian walkway of the Washington Avenue bridge, singing the Sun up out of the Mississippi Valley. December is on average the cloudiest month of our Minnesota year, when Earth and Sun hide themselves in their mysteries. But in those years when we actually see the Sun rise out of the river valley, with light and color flooding back into the world, well...that's Yule in little, and the joy of it continues for a full thirtnight of days, a year in miniature. Because we are who we are, we're part of something much larger than ourselves, something that would happen whether we were here to see it or not. It's something that we're privileged to take part in, and so long as we continue to do so, our people will continue to be. It's a joyous responsibility.

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Recent Comments - Show all comments
  • Steven Posch
    Steven Posch says #
    Thanks Cristina. Here in the US at least, Christmas is so massive that it can sometimes seem like a force of nature. I think it's
  • Cristina Potmesil
    Cristina Potmesil says #
    This comment, "Christmas is a human construct. If no one celebrated it, Christmas would cease to exist." is amazing. Thank you.
"Summer in Winter, Day in Night": Our Yule

The Yuletide is our greatest feasting of the year, comprehending (to various degrees) nearly two months of the year, and these are its parts: Fore-Yule, Yule, and Aer-Yule (which is to say, “After Yule”). As they did for the ancestors, the Thirteen Days (or Nights) themselves form the heart of the celebration, what poet Richard Crashaw called “Summer in Winter, Day in Night”; together they are said to constitute the entire year in microcosm.

Sunday after Thanksgiving

Mother Berhta Guerrilla Wassailers' Guild Rehearsal Supper

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