Welcome to this special, celebratory time as we look forward to some revelry in the shop. More on that later.
But first Yule and the Winter Solstice, and greenery, lights and lots of kissing under the mistletoe!
What should we all be doing at Yule?
Oh, how I love this festive time of year! Yule is when we celebrate the rebirth of the Sun with the shortest day and longest night. December is the time you think of cold weather, long dark nights, mood lighting and candlelight in the lounge and a real fire crackling away – well, in my house you do, hence why my grandson calls me ‘Nanny Crackle’ haha…! This is the time to spend having fun with family and friends, having saved for the season, so you can have the best you can afford, especially for the festive get-togethers, spending quality time eating the best food and drinking the finest wine your budget allows. It shouldn’t mean you have to spend a fortune on ‘stuff’ you can’t afford, but learn to celebrate in simpler ways than over-extending your credit card limit!!! The house should be warm and cosy with fairy lights and candles everywhere to illuminate this dark time, the fresh mistletoe hung with red ribbon over the doorway on this night, to bring a year of luck, protection and happiness for the household (and of course left in place all year), and the greenery hung everywhere, decorated with symbols of luck & abundance (i.e. fruit, nuts, seeds, acorns, berries etc). To finish it all, in pride of place, the Goddess on the top of the tree, overseeing your fun and celebrations.
We put the seasonal greenery around the home to symbolise that although the Earth is asleep and all seems to be dead, she will soon be springing back into action. We honour this with the pine tree, the holly wreath and the strings of Ivy over the mantlepiece or going up the stairs if you have any. The house should be full of woodland aromas with all this greenery, or burn oils of pine, cedarwood or cypress to complete the ambience.
The act of gift-giving began back in the days of Saturnalia in Rome, and is supposed to be a small hand-made gift that you have spent time and love creating, like a knitted, crocheted or wooden gift, or something baked for the table, as a simple memento of the season. My mum made plum bread every year for family, friends and neighbours, as a contribution for the season, and drinks were offered over the festive time too. Even us kids got some homemade presents! Only recently has the festive holidays become a headache, with the cost of the gifts and spending like there is no tomorrow. This is encouraged by being completely hounded by U.S. ads on Black Friday, Cyber Monday and the likes…it doesmyhead in and I’m a retailer!! Time to go back to the old ways, rather than spending willy-nilly and taking all year trying to pay the debt back!
Yule is all about looking forward, as the solar wheel begins to turn once more. This time of the year is always filled with hope, especially if the year has not been a good or successful one, and in the past, things done at Yule to begin again and start afresh, are now done at Hogmanay, the turn of the calendar now used to bring new hope with the New Year rather than Yule. Witches use Yule as the time to make plans for the next year – what do you want to accomplish next and what things are you needing to change…time to set the next goals. The turn of the Solar year is another turn of our life wheel (Yule is Norse for wheel) so make it count!
TheYule log is one of the most important items of the season, and we have covered this in previous yule editions, and can be found on my website, but get your Yule log prepared, so it is ready to be lit at dusk on the 21st. My Yule log was made quite a few years ago now, by my oldest son as a gift, and I keep the same one for sentimental reasons, as I cannot bear to think about burning something that he made with such care, especially as the younger one forgot one year to put the candles out, causing it to be been partly burned too. So every year, I scrape away the old wax, smile at the scorched bit, redecorate the log with holly from my tree and place 3 new red candles in the holes, to symbolise the young sun-god, and we re-light for another year. It is simple, effective, and a little bit of family tradition thrown into our annual festivities. The log then stays on our kitchen table, until New Year when the candles have burned right down.
A Yule-time wish
The rebirth of the Sun today gives a feeling of hope and warmth, and we can harness that in a wish. You will need a red Yule candle and a depiction of a reindeer to represent the horned God – picture, xmas stamp, table confetti or similar, a gold pen, some fairy dust, a piece of writing paper and a small envelope.
When you have your Yule candles ready, turn off all the lights and sit and feel the darkness. Now light your candles, one by one, fill the room steadily with candlelight and sit and think of what you would like to attract during the next year. Once you have decided on your wish, write it on the paper in gold pen and fold, placing it in the envelope. Add a sprinkle fairy dust, seal your wish inside with your stag and then hide the envelope away where no-one will find it, until the longest day and hopefully, as the light grows in strength, your wish will come into being!
Saturnalia and the Romans…
No-one throws a party like the people of Ancient Rome, their revelry and debauchery being well known through the ages. In ancient Italy planting of crops took place between October and January and their God of Agriculture was Saturn. Saturn was depicted as a working God, who is also now known as Old Father Time. Today, we think of Saturn as a planet in our Solar System rather than a God of old, who, astrologically enters your horoscope to teach you the lessons of life to ensure Karmic balance! Portrayed as an elderly, bearded man, he carries the scythe, sometimes a time-piece, and is always draped in robes. He is the giver of plenty from the Earth, so around 17thDecember, the party began until well after Yule to encourage a great harvest.
The Roman parties were awesome, and slaves became free of work, worries and rules for the week. They would eat with their master and wore a red freedom hat, called a pileus and everyone had a good time honouring Saturn.
Saturn was the Roman God of seed and time, and I have visited the remains of Saturn’s temple in the Forum in Rome, where the state treasury was also held. Here also took place fertility rites, to ensure the seeds grew to give an abundant harvest the next year. Food and wine would be in plenty, businesses, courts and schools were closed and the peasants ran the City. Feasts and banquets were held everywhere people gathered, and simple gifts were exchanged, including such things as a writing implement, tool, cups and spoons, clothing and food. Also given were tapered candles, the giver of light and these were burned in plenty to ensure the return of the sun to warm the ground and help the seeds grow. There would be naked partygoers in the streets singing like the drunks of today, and the halls of their homes were decked with boughs of laurel (no holly or pine in Rome!) This ended up a sort of drunken Roman Mardi Gras that went on for days, & would be the highlight of their year, before the hardness of a slave’s life resumed.
Saturnalia was a Roman Holy day, regardless of the partying, to honour their God. Saturn statues were traditionally bound with woollen ties all year round to stop him leaving Roman territory, but were cut at this time to allow Saturn to join in their fun. The final day of celebrations was known as Sigillaria (day of little figurines). Simple figures were made of wood, wax or clay to celebrate the New Year, and symbolise the letting go of things they needed to change to move forward. They may have begun with a sacrificial meaning but ended up as toys for the little ones. Saturn’s hands and feet would then be bound once more as the celebrations came to an end.
Saturnalia comes to Aberdour…
Saturnalia is 7 days of fun and frivolities, literally kicking off your shoes, dancing and having a laugh. Head of celebrations would have been a peasant King, but here in Aberdour, make way for the Saturnalian Witch Queen!! Oh yes…let the party commence as I celebrate my big ‘0’ birthday on Saturnalia, whilst 5 days before, Helen, my trusty assistant, also celebrates an ‘0’ birthday, jointly making us 100!! I think this should be marked in style as we both still have to work the busiest 10 days in the shop, so we are hoping our fabulous customers will come and help us celebrate and toast in our next decades with a little firelight and fizz, and wishes by candlelight…
Lighting the way…
My festive beeswax candles are back this Yule. In seasonal colours of yellow, red, and green, filled with festive oils, you can make Yule a little more magickal by making your wish by the light of one of my special candles, whilst hanging the festive Mistletoe, which will be on sale instore by the 15th, when we launch the Saturnalia celebrations with a festive shopping Saturday in Aberdour. All the shops are open, and there will be singers (but not naked but maybe tipsy), chestnuts roasting, wine mulling, a festive raffle and much more so come to Aberdour on 15th.
It is apt that we are celebrating Saturnalia, as it shows no matter who you are or what you do, time still moves on: we can do nothing to stop Father Time…we can’t turn back the clock, stop time ticking or reclaim our youth back, no matter how many spells we cast, so the lesson of the season is that time is precious, and we should make the most of every day, no matter what, with those we hold near and dear!!
Shop closure during the Festive period…
This year, the shop will be open Sundays but we will remain closed Mondays, as my birthday falls on a Monday!! Two of our children are away in Australia at their friend’s wedding, so the big family birthday party is having to wait until after they return on 24th. I will also be going away with my husband before New Year as usual, so I will notbe opening the shop between Christmas and Hogmanay this year! Please note we will be:
Open Tue-Sat 10.-5 (ish) and Sundays on 9th, 16th& 23rdDec from 12-5.00, but we will then be…
Closed Tue 25thDecember and remain closed until the re-opening on Friday 4thJanuary
Helen and I can then celebrate our birthdays with our families, both near and far. Life is about balance and as I am no longer able to retire, I think I am certainly allowed to have an extra-long festive holiday this year for a change…so stock up in advance!! If you cannot pop along for the fun, have a great festive break and we will look forward to seeing you next year. Yuletide wishes and a lucky 2019 to you all from Chris (alias the Green Witch)
Christine Macdonald, Mystique Moments, 59-61 High Street, ABERDOUR, Fife, KY3 0SJ