Yule or Yuletide (“Yule time”) is a festival historically observed by Germanic peoples. It went through some remixes and later was, as many other pagan holidays, Christianised as Christmastide.
Much earlier references to Yule are made in the Germanic month names Ærra Jéola (Before Yule) or Jiuli and Æftera Jéola (After Yule).
We also associate this time with the celebration to the Wild Hunt, the god Odin and the pagan Anglo-Saxon Mōdraniht.
Yuletide was a 12-day celebration (as with the more modern Twelve Days of Christmas) that originally started with the Winter Solstice. The most common present day custom is probably the Yule log, but there are also a Yule goat, Yule boar, Yule singing and other pagan Yule symbols.
If you want to mark the Yuletide and season outside your home, you can do things like leave out birdseed ornaments and halved oranges as offerings. When that first snow falls, some people collect some of it for snow water – a kind of Pagan “holy” water.
If you make some wassail, you can gather friends and go wassailing and after the sun has gone down, burn a yule log in a bonfire.
Inside, you can make stovetop potpourri as an alternative to incense. As the winter solstice comes upon us, get out the tarot cards and do a spread for you and your friends and see what is to come.
Hang mistletoe for protection (and also for consensual kisses).
I would be quite happy if someone decided to make me some Swedish Lussekatter rolls or a loaf of cardamom-scented and studded with raisins and candied citron Norwegian Julekake bread. The smell of any baking in the house in winter always warms me and feels like the holiday season.
You can have a ritual bath with fresh orange slices and winter spices, such as frankincense and myrrh, or essential oils for future prosperity.
On a Winter Solstice or Yule altar you might find colors like reds, greens, whites, and metallic colors, but some holly, pine, ivy, mistletoe, juniper, or cedar greenery. The harvest can be represented by oranges, pears, nuts and berries. Snowflake obsidian, clear quartz, or bloodstone may be found there too.
Neopaganism – and holiday rituals – can vary widely and also share similarities, having come from similar origins. Some may try to celebrate in a way as close as possible to how they believe Ancient Germanic pagans observed the tradition.
Neopagan sects may celebrate Yule with a special meal and gift giving. The Asatru Folk Assembly in the U.S. recognizes the celebration as lasting 12 days, beginning on the date of the winter solstice.
No matter how you treat this time of year, there are probably some roots back to the original Yuletide.