Midwinter or Yule (21st & 22nd June)
Yule falls at the Midwinter Solstice, when the nights are longer and the days shorter than at any other time of the year. Yule corresponds in many ways with the Northern Hemisphere Christian Christmas festival, and is associated with the Alban Arthan (Scottish). The history behind this is that the early Christian Church sought to gain converts by placing its festivals on or near the existing Pagan festivals.
At this time, Yule logs are burned. The Yule log must traditionally be the root of a hardwood tree, and in Australia mallee roots are ideal for this purpose, as are Tasmanian oaks and all types of Eucalyptus. The Yule log is burned down until nothing but a small piece remains, which is saved and kept to be used as a lighter for the following year’s Yule fire. A Yule tree is placed within the traditional Wiccan home, with a pentagram (five pointed star) at the top, symbolizing the five elements.
At Midwinter, homes are decorated with evergreen, non-deciduous trees, and gifts are given to all family members and all who pass the threshold. It is traditional to give to charities at this time, and to care, even more than usual, for the sick and poverty-stricken members of the community. Midwinter is also a special time to care for animals. As an antithesis to the traditional (but necessary) slaughter that used to occur at this time of year, modern Australian Witches may choose to donate time and / or money to animal charities such as the RSPCA. By doing so, we honour and acknowledge the importance of all Her creatures in this world.
Midwinter is a traditional time of feasting, and the seasonal colours are green and red. Yule was the traditional time of birth of Dionysus, Mithras and Baal, and the birth of the Norse Goddess Freya was also celebrated at this time.
Midwinter represents the rebirth of light in the midst of greatest darkness. At midwinter, the Goddess gives birth to the Sun God, springing forth new hope for the year to come.
In the Southern hemisphere, Yule is celebrated on June 21st and June 22nd, and in the Northern hemisphere it falls on the 21st and 22nd of December.