Going along with the Yule blog party, I want to bring you into what Yule is like at my house. Especially coming from two people who were raised flexible-Christian (the only times we regularly went to church were Xmas Eve and Easter).
We celebrate 12 Days of Yule. I read earlier on my journey that the “12 Days of Christmas” song was taken from the Pagans because many winter festivals surrounding the Solstice or Saturnalia lasted 12 days. Hubby and I really liked the idea of celebrating with a special meal and most days some kind of activity each day to bring back the Spirit of the 12 day festivals. Typically, Yule falls on the 21st of December, making Yuletide last from 12/21-1/1.
Yule begins sundown on the night of the Solstice. Hubby and I make a “feast”, typically some form of red meat in the crock pot. We light the fire, read the tale of Balder’s death by the hand of Hod and the mind of Loki, and finish off the night with cheesey secular TV specials.
Depending on when the Solstice falls (this year it’s a Friday night so we lucked out!) we wake up the next morning to find that Ragnarok has not happened and we open gifts to celebrate another year we have been gifted. Another year of Thor, Odin, Tyr, and company defending us from the baddies of the Nine Worlds. (If Solstice falls on a night Sunday-Thursday, we hold gifts until dinner time the following day).
The third day of Yule is a day of rest and enjoying each other and a day off. It is also a day to mentally prepare for what’s to come with family celebrations. The fourth day of Yule (typically Xmas Eve) is a night out at a restaurant, to again enjoy and celebrate each other. It’s also fun, where we live, to see all the kids lined up around the local Santa Claus. And for the older kids to look at him and begin to wonder how he can be before them and flying around the world to deliver gifts at the same time.
The fifth day of Yule is Xmas day, which is spent with family. For now, we go over my mom’s house around lunch time, open gifts, spend some time visiting together (which sounds strange because she lives 10 minutes away!), and then enjoying a big meal.
The sixth day of Yule is time for friends. My best friends (who married each other) come into down for New Years every year (we go up north for some time in the summer, they come down in the winter). We have a few days together rebonding and sharing.
The seventh-tenth days of Yule are spent enjoying the time with Kith and Kin, rather than with the never-ending, ever-growing work loads we all face. Each day, we pick something to do. One day, we will stay home and play board games all day (a tradition since the four of us were in high school together). Another day, we will go to a local museum. Another day we’ll explore downtown Raleigh, and another downtown Durham. If not one of those, then something else that strikes our fancy. Last year, instead of going to downtown Durham, we went to a Hurricanes game.
The eleventh day of Yule is New Year’s Eve, where we again celebrate the additional year with which the Universe has blessed us. It’s a day of preparation followed by a night of celebration. The four of us don’t drink when we are together (Hubby and I enjoy a social gathering with a fermented beverage), but my friends don’t drink (J will depending on who she’s with, R won’t ever). Instead of drinking the night away, we have a “bad-for-you” fest filled with greasy finger food: potato skins, chicken wings, mozzarella sticks, poppers, and the like. When dinner’s ready, J and I make a box of Ghiradelli brownie. After dinner, we cut the brownie 4 ways (yes, 1 box by four people!) and top it with a heaping scoop of vanilla ice cream. At midnight, we of course ring in the new year with the local broadcast countdown and then hang out until we are all ready to pass out.
The twelfth day is full on recovery mode. After the food coma we all endured the night before, coupled with the fact that we all rise before/at dawn with work and stayed awake until at least 2am the night before, the four of us stay hunkered down on the couches and just relax. Maybe we’ll do an outing before dinner, to see a movie or to stroll through a park. But most of the day is just relaxation and recovery.