The Wheel of the Year: Yule

Yule (also known as Winter Solstice) is celebrated on the shortest day and longest night of the year here in the Northern Hemisphere.

This is the balance of the Summer Solstice held around June 21st. Yule is an occasion of many celebrations and merrymaking, a time to put yourself in tune with the rebirth of light in the land. Our purpose is to welcome back the Sun, embrace new beginnings, and spread the message of peace and love.

Astrological Date: Sun at 0º Capricorn

Winter Solstice (approximately December 21st) marks the transition from enthusiastic and fiery Sagittarius into the family-minded nature of Capricorn. The last of the Earth signs, Capricorn keeps an eye on the prize, setting goals and taking the slow and steady climb to success. Sounds like traditional New Year’s resolution setting, right? Now the Waxing of the Solar Year begins and every day that follows will have a longer and longer day.

Seasonal Focus: Resting

It is here, in the depths of Winter, that we can once again look to nature for guidance. Trees are bare and digging their roots deeper into the earth. Perennial plants live off stored nutrients as they pause their growth for winter. The bees seal up their hives and animals hibernate, waiting for Spring. Without this resting period, Nature would quickly wear itself out. So, too, must we rest our souls in the warmth and security of our home. It is during the darkness of the sun’s cycle we call forth the light that has been awaiting rebirth and is ready to manifest.


  • Altar Decorations / Symbols: Bells, Candles, Elves, Evergreens, Goddess Figures, Lights, Holly, Mistletoe, Ornaments, Pine Cones, Reindeer, Snowflakes, Sun Symbols, Wreaths, Yule log
  • Animals: Bear, Boar, Deer, Eagle, Owl, Robin, Squirrel, Snow Goose, Sow, Tiger, Wren
  • Colors & Candles: red and green, white and silver, midnight blue and gold (a little sparkle on your candles is also in season!)
  • Crystals & Stones: Bloodstone, Clear Quartz, Diamond, Emerald, Garnet, Ruby
  • Incense & Oils: Cedar, Cinnamon, Clove, Frankincense, Juniper, Myrrh, Peppermint, Pine, Sweet Orange
  • Herbs & Flowers: Blessed Thistle, Chamomile, Ivy, Mistletoe, Peppermint Leaf, Rosemary, Sage
  • Trees: Apple, Birch, Cedar, Chestnut, Citrus, Fir, Holly, Juniper, Oak, Pine, Yew

Customs & Celebrations

Traditionally, this is a time of new beginnings both physically and spiritually as the Winter Solstices brings us out of the darkest night of the year and into the light. We celebrate this light with the season of giving and the loved ones we hold dear. It is also the moment to reflect up the lessons learned throughout the previous year and make plans on how to move forward.

  • Decorate a Yule tree with symbols of the season and reflect on the blessings of joy, renewal, and well-wishes as you do so.
  • Do something good for someone else: in the season of giving, look for meaningful ways to spread love and kindness. Ideas include baking cookies for teachers, friends or neighbors, adopting a family in need, volunteering at a soup kitchen, or visiting residents of your local senior center.
  • Hold a family celebration to welcome the return of the Sun. This can be as simple or elaborate as you like!
  • Listen to holiday music or go caroling with friends.
  • Meditate on the rising and/or setting of the Solstice Sun, reflecting on renewal and peace. Pay attention to the Sun’s position on the horizon at this time and observe the change in position as the days begin to lengthen again.
  • Reflect on the traditions of the Yule log or create your own. Burn a Yule log in the hearth, or, burn candles on, in, or near a log of Oak on an altar.
  • Start a storytelling tradition. There are a few ways to do this: hold a round-robin story-telling session with one person making up the beginning of the story and each person contributing as it goes around the room. Read a book aloud to the family or learn a traditional folktale to share on a cozy night.

Foods & Recipes

Celebrate in the kitchen with seasonal foods that include: apples, candies & sweets, dried fruits & nuts, eggnog, root vegetables, wassail, winter squash, and Yule log cake.


Recipes for a Pagan Soul has two versions of this traditional Yule drink (both alcoholic and non). Be sure to keep a crockpot of this tasty drink simmering throughout your celebrations!

Winter Bisque w/Crispy Sage & Shallots

This is a creamy and heartwarming vegan bisque filled with seasonal vegetables and herbs. You can find the recipe on Vegan Yack Attack! 

Vegan Buche De Noel w/Chocolate Mousse Filling & Mocha Buttercream Frosting

Get the recipe for this show-stopping dessert over at The Blooming Platter

What are some of your favorite traditions at this time of year? Be sure to let us know in the comments below!

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