That Time of the Year

Yule tidings! 

     Hello everyone! Long time, no post. The weather in my area has become cooler. The air is crisp, seasoned with the smell of dried leaves and fir trees. Winter is coming.....I'm sorry. I couldn't help myself. I digress. Normal life has been very demanding of me as of late. Though I'm sure many can find that relatable. With my nine to five (more appropriately, seven to whenever), back-to-back holidays for the last three months, and my youngest sister turning sixteen, I have had a full plate, so to speak. To be completely honest though, I don't mind having a full plate. I came to eat right? 

     As the seasons begin to turn, many holidays are upon us. Hanukkah, Christmas, Xmas, Yule, the Winter Solstice (Northern Hemisphere), Kwanza, Festivus, lol. Whatever your tradition, it seems as though this is considered a time of reflection, renewal, regeneration, and rebirth. Wow, that was a lot of R's. Yule is my tradition as an adult in my own home. A little background. I was raised Southern Baptist growing up, celebrating a traditional North American Christian Christmas. Things change. But that's a story for another time.  

     First and foremost, the Winter Solstice is a celebration of the rebirth of life. It marks the shortest day and the longest night. Even though it's celebrated in the midst of winter it is truly a sun festival. The people of times past were completely dependent on nature to provide for them, so there were lots of fire and fertility rites performed in order for the sun to regain its energy in hopes of restoring abundance to the land, sea, everything, pretty much. After all, what's a cold winter night without a nice fire? A lot of the holidays centered around this time share several subtle nuances. For instance, the tree. The celebratory tree. Where did the idea originate? Who decided that we bedazzle the pines and gather 'round singing songs?  

     Originating many many centuries ago, for folks of early Paganism this tree was a representation of the Tree of Life. Traditionally it was adorned in pine cones, berries, and fruit to represent the hope for abundance and prosperity in the new year to come. Sometimes the trees were decorated with bones and candles to symbolize death and rebirth. However, it's said that it is Queen Victoria that we can thank for popularizing the modern Christmas tree as we know it. In the 1840’s the Queen Victoria came back from a trip to Germany where she had spotted the decorated trees and decided she wanted to have one. She made it a trend. And thus, the tradition of the Christmas tree. From then on, the Yule tree has seemed to stray further and further from what it once represented. 

     So enough with the history lesson. This home has been all about decorating and baking deliciousness for the last two weeks. I wanted to try having a traditional Yule this year (with respect to my Norse ancestry). Beginning with the tree, I have chosen to decorate with pinecones and bones. I thought it best to skip the candles on the tree. I'm still trying to figure out how that was a good idea. Ever. Anyway, I used deer bones that I had left over from last year. I collect bones so that is nothing to be surprised over. There are vertebrae, teeth, young antlers and pinecones all around. And of course the tree top is adorned with a young buck skull. My eldest child chose red lights since they would 'contrast best with the green pine needles'. And I chose a white strand to illuminate the base as if it were snow. I positioned the lights so the eyes of the skull glow red as well. My youngest really likes that feature. Also, there had to be a buck skull on the wreath that is hanging on the front door. I'm all about aesthetic consistency in the decor. Or maybe I just have OCD. Who knows. The wreath represents the wheel of the year. Traditionally made with evergreens and decorated with pinecones and berries, they were often given as gifts to loved ones as a symbol of friendship and happiness. 

     We will be decorating a yule log this week as well as baking crescent moon cookies and brewing some wassail. Look out for that project blog and those recipes coming up. When it came to wrapping gifts, I chose plain recycled brown packaging paper. Never mind that for the last week my toddler has repeatedly wanted to use last years wrapping paper to wrap himself up as a gift for his older sibling to open and I have no decorative wrap left. I thought it would go with the natural mood I'm creating to use recycled paper and twine. For real though, it's a good idea considering giftwrap is just a vessel, torn away and tossed.  

     I'm not sure what the coming year will bring but if I were it would take all of the excitement out of it. As for this year, I'm going out peaceful, grounded, and with those I hold closest. What more could I ask for? Goodnight everyone.

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