Make a Viking Toast for the Winter Solstice

There will be about 9 hours and 20 minutes of daylight today in Paradelle. It’s partly sunny but below freezing outside. Some people mark the Winter Solstice with celebration. Optimists, like the ancients, didn’t think of today as the longest night of the year as much as it was the turning point after which nights would become increasingly shorter. Those in the northernmost parts of the Northern Hemisphere were really looking forward to more daylight and shorter nights.

From what I have read, a Viking toast includes a boast – something you are proud of from the past year – a toast – to someone you want to honor – and an oath for the year ahead.  If you’re gathering with a group to do some solstice celebrating, you work your way around the room and each person makes a toast/boast/oath and takes a sip (or whatever amount is appropriate to the celebrants and the number in the room).


Keep in mind that in Norway, the sun on the Winter Solstice may only be up only a few hours. That must have been quite frightening to the ancients who had no idea that Earth was on a tilted axis and that’s why this happens. They believed that a wolf of Hel, the goddess of death, was eating the sun who was a maiden and the beloved of all gods.

What should we drink with our Viking toast? Here are 5 options:

The Germanic wassail which is a mulled cifer (or mulled beer or mead) has nutmeg, cinnamon, and sugar. I like this choice because it is warmed and served with toast.

Go Nordic with some glogg which you can make with red wine and spices like cinnamon, ginger, cloves, cardamom, and orange. It is sometimes boosted a bit with some vodka or brandy.

Eggnog isn’t authentic Viking fare but very Yuletide in tradition.  If you drink it from a horn it will look more Viking. Brandy is the traditional alcoholic component.

If you can find some mead, that’s appropriate. Don’t overdo it but I’ve been known to add some cinnamon, cloves, nutmeg, and vanilla. Heat it up till it’s like a cup of warm tea.

I have no objection to some nice hot toddies tonight. My late Aunt Millie would approve – but those ancient Vikings would probably beat me up if I served it to them.

The Norse holiday season doesn’t end until Jólablót , or Yule Sacrifice, in January – but that’s a post for another day.

MORE Drinks for a Cold Holiday

Concerning the Yuletide


I see that the Yule Log at Douglass College celebrates its 100th anniversary tomorrow.  This is a non-sectarian event, but this marking of the advent of winter falls on the first Sunday of the Christian Advent and the first night of Hanukkah. The Douglass College event embraces the diversity of seasonal celebrations with candles, which play a role in many observations during this time.

I attended the Yule Log celebration there my freshman year at neighboring Rutgers College and sang songs, and listened to students reading passages about the winter season.

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.

As a child, my family incorporated some of our the Austro-Hungarian traditions of our ancestors. We considered Yuletide to be a 12-day celebration (as with the more modern Twelve Days of Christmas).

“Officially” Yule 2018 will begin on the Winter Solstice on December 21 (at 5:23 PM ET for the Northern Hemisphere if you want to be Druid precise) and it will end on January 1, 2019. So, today’s post is early, but it gives you lots of time to prepare.

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.

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. But you can mark the Yuletide and the winter season inside and outside your home with a variety of traditions.

I forgot this year when the first snow fell, to collect some of it for snow water – a kind of Pagan “holy” water.

I know that some people leave out birdseed ornaments and halved oranges as winter offerings to attract and aid the birds who remain for winter.


If you make some wassail, you can gather friends and go wassailing and after the sun has gone down, Sure, go ahead and burn a yule log in a bonfire, if you can.

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. In the Christian era, mistletoe in the Western world became associated with Christmas as a decoration under which lovers are expected to kiss. It had also been considered protection from witches and demons. Mistletoe continued to be associated with fertility and vitality through the Middle Ages, and by the 18th century it had also become incorporated into Christmas celebrations around the world.


In a cultural sense, I would be quite happy if someone decided to make me some Swedish Lussekatter rolls, or a loaf of cardamom-scented, 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 which is supposed to ensure 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.

No matter how you treat this time of year, there are probably some roots back to the original Yuletide.


Here we come a wassailing


Seeing that today is Twelfth Night, I thought for those of you wanting to  do some “wassailing of the trees.” (or just indoor wassailing), I would provide a wassail recipe.

Wassail means “Good Health” in Old English. The tradition in most of England (especially in the South) of wassailing) in order to ensure a bountiful harvest of apples.

It’s easier to get guests to sing the traditional verse if you add  the sherry, rum or brandy to your hot cider mix.

Here we come a wassailing among the leaves so green,
here we come a wassailing so fair to be seen.
Love and joy come to you and to you your wassail too.
And God bless you and send you a Happy New Year
and God send you a Happy New Year.


1 qt brown ale
8 oz dry sherry
1/2 c brown sugar
3 apples
finely grated peel of 1/2 lemon or orange
1/2 t each of nutmeg, cinnamon and ginger

  1. Preheat the oven to 350F. Peel and core two apples and cut in thick slices. Place in a baking dish and sprinkle with brown sugar.
  2. Drizzle with 2 oz of brown ale.
  3. Bake until apples are tender (about 45 minutes).
  4. Chop the apples and their cooking juices in a food processor until smooth.
  5. Place in a saucepan over medium low heat and add remaining ale, sherry, lemon peel, nutmeg, cinnamon and ginger. Simmer gently for a few minutes. (If you’re not in a hurry and you want to keep it warm longer, use a crock pot/slow cooker.)
  6. For extra warmth, add sherry, rum or brandy.
  7. Peel and core remaining apple and slice. Add slices to the bowl and some cloves and serve warm.