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Question About Yule


Amanda George
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Me again!

 

I was doing a bit of reading about the Sabbats and the Wheel of the Year yesterday afternoon and on a couple of sites it said that the Yule Sabbat lasted for 12 days? I thought that Yule was just on the Winter equinox and only lasted for a day?

 

If Yule lasts for 12 days like the sites (I'm pretty sure they were linked to from here, but could be wrong) said, what dates does it go from and to please? What about the other Sabbats - do they last longer than a day too please?

 

Thank you!

 

Amanda

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I've not heard that before, I did read that Sabbats can be celebrated three days - day before, the day of, and the day after - but I don't do the Sabbats so much, sorry I couldn't be of more help!

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I was doing a bit of reading about the Sabbats and the Wheel of the Year yesterday afternoon and on a couple of sites it said that the Yule Sabbat lasted for 12 days? I thought that Yule was just on the Winter equinox and only lasted for a day?

 

If Yule lasts for 12 days like the sites (I'm pretty sure they were linked to from here, but could be wrong) said, what dates does it go from and to please? What about the other Sabbats - do they last longer than a day too please?

 

Ok, you need to differentiate between:

(1) the wiccan/OBOD druid "Wheel of the Year" Yule, and

(2) the Heathen Yule.

 

I can't tell you anything about (1) I'm afraid, as it's not my religion. I imagine it's just one day, like any celebration of the eight fesitivals of the Wheel. But others might be able to help about the wiccan/OBOD influenced celebrations.

 

OK, the Heathen one is one of only a couple of fesitvals for which we have evidence from pre-Christian times. Yule is mentioned by the Christian monk Bede. Bede was interested in how time was reckoned, and he wrote a book about it in the 8th century. It's an important book for a number of reasons - but for Heathens, it's the only source on the pre-Christian lunar calendar. However, that apart, it tells us when the first day of Yule was called "Mothers' Night" and was celebrated when the Christians celebrated Christmas. It was likely that was Christmas Eve, as Anglo Saxons were influenced by the old calendar, which began at dusk the day before. However, many will have moved over to the roman clanedar, when the day began at midnight. so "Mothers' Night" might have been celebrated on either Christmas Eve or Christmas Night. (I'll come back to why modern Heathens celebrate it on the winter solstice).

 

Now, why 12 days?

 

This is likely to be Christian, rather than pagan. King Alfred put them in his new laws, issued at the end of the ninth century, but they may have existed before then. Alfred basically said that all people would be given time off to celebrate the 12 days, whatever his or her station in life. The Christian festival began on Christmas Eve and ran until the eve of the Epiphany (6th January). There is a hangover in current customs of taking down Christmas decorations on 6th January, and of wassailing on that date. It marked a return to normal life on 7th January. However, it's sort of been rolled up as part of the thinking of the season of Yule in folklore, so it might be one of those occasions where pagans have 'paganised' a Christian festival and claimed it for our own. ;)

 

Now, back to the date of Mothers' Night. In Bede's day, the calendar in use was the Julian calendar, introduced by Caesar. In the 16th century, Pope Gregory revised the calendar, which, by then, was out of synch with the solar year. So one explantion you'll see on websites for the chage in date between Christmas Day back to the solstice is the change in calendar. But this won't work, because there was an 11 day difference between the two calendars when England converted to the Gregorian calendar. EWven had they converted when Gregory first proposed his calendar, there would have been a 10 day difference.

 

For more convincing is that the shift in dates comes from the Christianisation of Norway by King Haakon I. At that time, Yule was celebrated from the solstice over three days (not the 12 days used in England). Haakon basically swapped it from starting on the winter solstice to starting it at Christmas, to make it a christian festival. So it looks as though modern Heathens have reversed that, reclaimed the start date as the winter solstice, but adopted the Christian 12 days. :)

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There is a hangover in current customs of taking down Christmas decorations on 6th January, and of wassailing on that date. It marked a return to normal life on 7th January. However, it's sort of been rolled up as part of the thinking of the season of Yule in folklore, so it might be one of those occasions where pagans have 'paganised' a Christian festival and claimed it for our own. ;)

 

Well they Christianised the pagan festivals so hey let's paganise them back again :-) I'm ok with things not necessarily being historically accurate as to what people did before Christianity, after all things would have evolved and changed with time even without it. I like it how folk culture can start or take on things on in a pagan spirit. It's funny I read something on the internet that was saying Christians shouldn't celebrate Christmas because it's a pagan festival! Lol.

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To say Merry Christmas in Danish, Norwegian and Swedish you would say, God Jul, which translates literally as Good Yule.

 

The mediaeval form of the twelve days of Yule (aka Christmas) in England began on Christmas Eve and ended on Twelfth Night/Twelfth Day, which fell on the 5th/6th of January accordingly.

 

Simplistically speaking the twelve days were a holiday, a much needed break in the tedious humdrum of a hard working life. On the 7th of January women once more took up their spinning (an endless chore in those days) and that day came to be called St. Distaff's Day, which was sort of pun really since the distaff is a tool upon which fibre is wound for spinning, not the name of a saint. The Monday following Twelfth Night is known as Plough Monday, which is when the men traditionally went back to working the fields, etc.

 

I'd like to think that the Twelve Days existed prior to the arrival of Christianity in Britain since I enjoy celebrating them. Not only because it's fun but because, at the end of that time, I can see the amount of daylight has already started to increase. An affirmation, if you will, that the magic has worked! :P

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Yes there have been times, both Medaeval and Early Modern when Christmas [rather than Yule] was celebrated over twelve days. The answer isn't simple and it is regional. I'm pretty sure Partridges in Pear trees were not a major feature.

 

If you are really interested in this then you need Ron Hutton's "Stations of the Sun" and the very best of luck! I managed "Triumph of the Moon" and "Blood and Mistletoe" but I can only read one chapter of "Stations of the Sun" at a time as the season goes by. He debunks some of the idea that Pagan festivals were taken over by Christianity too.

 

HEALTH WARNING

While reading Hutton can be very rewarding it uses up a lot of life time and eytesight!

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Simplisctically, in Wicca, "Yule" is the name pagans attribute to the christians' "Christmas" and the important festival (one of the eight which make up the spokes of the Wiccan Wheel of the Year) is Winter Solstice on or about 21 December. However, with a healthy attraction to feasting and celebration, we tend to start on 20/21 December and continue throughout everyone else's days of celebration as long as we can and until we return to work :lol:

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with a healthy attraction to , we tend to start on 20/21 December and continue throughout everyone else's days of celebration as long as we can and until we return to work :lol:

 

Naomi - you are warming me to Wicca ideas...eat, drink and be merry for tomorrow we return to work.......works for me :o_rofl: :o_rofl:

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For more convincing is that the shift in dates comes from the Christianisation of Norway by King Haakon I. At that time, Yule was celebrated from the solstice over three days (not the 12 days used in England). Haakon basically swapped it from starting on the winter solstice to starting it at Christmas, to make it a christian festival. So it looks as though modern Heathens have reversed that, reclaimed the start date as the winter solstice, but adopted the Christian 12 days. :)

 

In other words we decided that if you're going to party, you might as well do it properly and make it last for twelve days! :o_drink: Hic!

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Thank you all so much!

 

Moonhunter - It's more likely to be the Heathen Yule as that's what I've been reading and researching since I was called to it :)

 

I'm with Freydis - let's party for 12 days instead of 3! lol

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Simplisctically, in Wicca, "Yule" is the name pagans attribute to the christians' "Christmas" and the important festival (one of the eight which make up the spokes of the Wiccan Wheel of the Year) is Winter Solstice on or about 21 December. However, with a healthy attraction to feasting and celebration, we tend to start on 20/21 December and continue throughout everyone else's days of celebration as long as we can and until we return to work :lol:

 

Yes, this is my take on this time of year too Naomi. Considering the time and expense that goes into it, I want my money's worth! :o_beer: :o_drink:

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So ... in the end, we Wiccans are not so far apart from Ye Heathens .... it's party time in December, whenever you start, for whatever reason and as long as you can .............. :lol:

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I think that is the best thing to do with December. The nights are long, its cold. The garden is out of bounds. Storms, arthritis, leaks, ice, bare trees. Stuff it. I think, if anything, we should extend the period from 12 to 31 days. And why not January too for that matter?

 

Mike

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