Perhaps the best Yuletide decoration is being wreathed in smiles.
Merry Meet my friends. I am very late to writing a Yule blog I’m afraid. Just like all of you, Life is a bit busy right now and time seems to escape me some days. Winter has settled in early here in Ohio. Right now, there is about 8-9 inches of snow on the ground and we will be in the single digits tonight with a negative wind chill factor!! But I LOVE Winter! I love the beauty of the snow, the quiet of the nights, the starry skies, the scent of woodsmoke, and seeing your breath on the Air. Despite this busy time of year, I find time most every evening to be quiet by the fire, light candles, rest and reflect on the dark months ahead.
Yule is on Dec. 21 this year and it’ll be a quiet celebration as always here at my house. A nice meal, some time outside, some time at my altar and some time by the fire. My greens have been brought in just today and adorn bowls and my mantle. Yule..the Winter Solstice…the longest night of the year. I find it a beautiful Sabbat…a time in all the hustle and bustle of the holiday celebrations..to focus on what Yule means to us Pagans and Witches. It marks going into Winter..into the dark time of the year. Mother Earth is at rest and I try to do the same for the Winter months. It’s a quieter time of year (after the holidays of course!). Time to read, relax, perhaps work on a project I’ve put off, crafts, organize my home, write etc. Whatever it is you like to do when you are forced to be inside more. Now I know that of course life is still going on…work, responsibilities, cooking and cleaning etc…yes…but there is more time at home, more hours of dark to spend nesting and finding time to rest. Even getting some extra sleep!
I am in search of the perfect Yule log from our woodpile. I’ll dress it with greens and herbs..bless it and burn it! One of my favorite things to do for Yule is to write down a list of my wishes, hopes, and dreams for the next year. Also, to write down those things I want to let go of…to get out of my life. After doing the list, I burn it with the Yule log..and know that my wishes go out with Air..by Fire and Earth.
This year, in our new home, we have a darling little spruce tree we planted over the summer. My husband put lights on it and it makes a magickal little Yule tree. This weekend, I’ll be making outdoor ornaments for the tree, I use yarn or raffia to string cereal and dried fruits. I use bagel halves, cover them in peanut butter and dip them in birdseed..and even apples and orange cups can be put out there. My grandkids love this project too! and of course the birds and squirrels love it too 🙂 Makes me feel good to help our feathered and furry friends over the cold Winter.
Thought I’d post a couple of favorite recipes of mine for this time of year!
Autumn’s Shortbread Cookies
1 lb butter, softened …salted or unsalted doesn’t really matter
1 cup sugar
4 cups all purpose flour
These are a huge hit at my house and so simple!
Cream butter and sugar until creamy. Add 2 cups at a time of the flour and blend. If the dough is a bit dry, add a tablespoon of water. Spread dough into a jelly roll pan with your hands ….spread it even. Prick the dough every so often with a fork.
Bake at 350* for about 25 minutes until golden brown. Remove from oven and cut immediately into squares….then let it cool in the pan. Enjoy!
*For Yule, I like to sprinkle with green or red sugar crystals before baking!
1 1/2 cups all purpose flour
1 tsp baking powder
1/4 tsp baking soda
1/4 tsp salt
1 tsp ground cinnamon
1/2 tsp ground ginger
1 1/4 cup milk
1/4 cup molasses
3 TB vegetable oil
Sift together first 6 ingredients in a medium bowl and set aside. In a large bowl, beat egg & milk until well blended. Stir in molasses and oil. Add flour mixture to egg mixture, stirring til moistened. Pour batter by 1/3 cupfuls onto a lightly greased hot griddle. Cook until bubby on top, flip and cook til golden brown.
Great with Lemon Sauce!!
1/2 cup sugar
1 TB cornstarch
1/8 tsp ground nutmeg
1 cup water
2 TB butter
1/2 tsp lemon zest
2 Tb lemon juice
Stir together sugar, cornstarch and nutmeg in a small saucepan. Add water and cook over medium heat until thick and bubbly.
Cook and stir an additional 2 mins
Remove from heat. Add remaining ingredients and stir until butter is melted
Serve warm over gingerbread pancakes or waffles, or cake!
Hope you enjoy these! For more recipes and Yule info and correspondence etc..be sure to type in Yule or Winter Solstice in the search box on the right side of this blog. There are many past years of postings!
For now I leave you all with the hopes that you are finding time to BREATHE, RELAX, and be QUIET now and then during this busy time of year. It’s so easy to get caught up in the hectic hustle and bustle….but pause now and then and remember what the Season is really all about. The Solstice..the longest night…..the passing of the Holly King and the Re-birth of the Oak King…and Mother Earth frozen and slumbering. But it means that already the days will grow longer and the Sun will strengthen and warm, and Earth will begin to stir! Blessed Be!
“So the shortest day came, and the year died,
And everywhere down the centuries of the snow-white world
Came people singing, dancing,
To drive the dark away.
They lighted candles in the winter trees;
They hung their homes with evergreen;
They burned beseeching fires all night long
To keep the year alive,
And when the new year’s sunshine blazed awake
They shouted, reveling.
Through all the frosty ages you can hear them
Echoing behind us – Listen!!
All the long echoes sing the same delight,
This shortest day,
As promise wakens in the sleeping land:
They carol, fest, give thanks,
And dearly love their friends,
And hope for peace.
And so do we, here, now,
This year and every year.
– Susan Cooper, The Shortest Day
Blessings and Love, Autumn
Wreath picture from the internet..unknown source. Other two pictures are my own.