The Twelve Days of Yule



Yule. For many of us, this word is most associated with the Winter Solstice on December 21. Many folks will stay up through the longest night to welcome the return of the Sun. Did you know that in various older European traditions, Yule was (and is!) celebrated for 12 nights? That's right! From December 21 to January 1, many of our ancestors honored this season. We've spent too long celebrating a Christianized and truncated version of winter. In this post, I'm going to share with you some traditions, and some ideas for creating your own "12 Days of Yule".



In Asatru and Norse Heathenry, the 12 Days begins on the evening of December 20th.

December 20: This is known as Mother's Night. It is sacred to Frigg, Freya, and the Desir. Celebrations center around the females of the family, particularly mothers, and the virtue of Industriousness.

December 21: The Wild Hunt- sacred to Odin and Ullr. This night focuses on hearth and home, and staying indoors to avoid the wild hunt. This was the night when Odin would ride and gather up lost souls. This celebrates the virtue of Perseverance.

December 22: The High Feast of Yule, and the beginning of the runic year. Sacred to Thor and Freyr.  Burning a Yule log, and jumping the flames for good luck in the new year, rekindling friendships, taking oaths, and setting goals are all done on this night. This celebrates the virtue of Courage.

December 23: The Fourth Night of Yule. Sacred to Aegir, Niord, and Freya. This is the day to remind one's self of the importance of friendship, and strengthen the bonds of kinship. Feasting is a big part of this day, and it celebrates the virtue of Community.

December 24: The Fifth Night of Yule. Sacred to Community. This is the day to celebrate and remember the virtue of Hospitality. It is prevalent in nearly every ancient culture.

December 25: The Sixth Night of Yule. Sacred to Eir and Healing. This is the day to honor the health of yourself and your loved ones. This celebrates the virtue of Discipline. Self-discipline, in particular.

December 26: The Seventh Night of Yule. Sacred to Thor. This is the day to remember our impact on our community. Sif is also honored on this day, as both Thor and Sif are protectors of children. This celebrates the virtue of Fidelity.

December 27: The Eighth Night of Yule: Sacred to Scathi and Ullr. This is the day to honor the hunters, and the virtue of Truth.

December 28: The Ninth Night of Yule: Sacred to Odin. Celebrates the virtue of Honor.

December 29: The Tenth Night of Yule: Sacred to Sunna and ancestors. Celebrates Justice. Offerings to Slepnir (Hay) and Alfar (apples) are done on this night.

December 30: The Eleventh Night of Yule: Sacred to the Valkyries. On this day, the virtue of Self-reliance is honored.

December 31: The Twelfth Night of Yule: Sacred to all the Gods and Goddesses. This is the culmination of the 12 nights, and is spent feasting (pork is the main dish), swearing oaths on Thor's hammer, acknowledging the passing year, and and the new one. Oaths and words spoken are said to carry heavy weight on this night. Time to make goals. Wisdom is celebrated.

Ideas for Your Own 12 Days of Yule


I'm going to share with you some of the ideas I have, as well as give you some starting points for creating your own. Mine are simple. You can get creative, and start your own traditions. Feel free to take and use any of these suggestions and ideas, and leave a comment to help others, if you've come up with one of your own to share!

Gift giving on each of the 12 nights, one gift for each month of the year, to bring luck and protection to the recipient for the year.
Some witches choose to do one "witchy" thing each night. Make Yule oil, candles, etc.
In ancient Europe, there was a tradition of creating images of the gods on small pieces of wood, and tying them to trees during Yule, to help the tree spirits return in spring.
If you like, you can choose to take each of the months, and celebrate their themes on each of the 12 days. I've highlighted the key theme for each. 

January (December 20th evening)

January is the first month of the year according to the modern Gregorian and Julian calendars and its first day marks the beginning of the year for those calendars. The name January comes from the Latin Ianuarius and is names after the Roman God, Janus- the god of doorways and passages.
A Saxon name for January is Wulf-monath (Wolf month). Virtue: Industriousness
January Correspondences
Birthstone: garnet
Flower: galanthus, cottage pink dianthus or carnation
Zodiac signs: Capricorn and Aquarius

Idea: Perhaps create a vision board with goals for the year on it, and create a doorway dedicated to Janus. If you're good at woodworking, you could create a small door to place on your altar or in your money corner, if you're into feng shui. In what way can you honor the virtue of Industriousness? Since this is the "wolf month," study up on the behavior of wolves. They are known for their community, industriousness, and loyalty. Donate to a wolf conservation group.


February: (December 21 evening)


February is the second month of the year according to the Julian Calendar and the Gregorian Calendar and it is the shortest month of the year, having only 28 days in common years and 29 days in leap years. Those born in the first part of February are born under the sign of Aquarius while those born in the latter part of the month are born under the sun sign Pisces.

The name February comes from the ancient Roman Februarius. According to the Ancient Roman Calendar, February was the last month of the year, except when it was occasionally followed by Intercalaris, a month of variable length periodically added to the end of the year to keep the seasons properly aligned. Virtue: Perseverance

The name Februarius comes from Februa, meaning "to cleanse".

February Correspondences
Flower: viola, primrose, snowdrop
Gemstone: amethyst
Gods and Goddesses: Sjofn, Mars, Juno, Brigid, Diana, Apollo
Zodiac signs: Aquarius and Pisces

Idea: Clean out closets, clean the house top to bottom. Perform cleansing rites upon yourself, your loved ones, and home. You could "smudge" using your favorite herbs and incenses. Give gently worn items to your favorite charity. Since this is High Yule, in what way can you honor hearth, home, and perseverance?



March: (December 22 evening)


The month of March is the 3rd month of the Julian and Gregorian Calendars but was originally the first month of the Roman calendar year, called Martius named for Mars, one of the most important Gods of the Roman state, second only to Jupiter. Mars is the god of war. Virtue: Courage

March Correspondences
Stone: Bloodstone
Flower: Jonquil or Narcissus, Shamrock
Animals: Hare or rabbit, Lamb, Lion
Zodiac: Pisces and Aries

Ideas:  Mars is the god of war, but you don't have to do what the Romans did, and dress up in war regalia, sacrificing a horse for his protection. March is also the time of the Spring Equinox, so you might want to gather seeds that you plan to plant in spring, and "bless" them. You could draw up a plan for your spring planting (make it colorful!), and hang it on your wall. Define what Courage means to you. In what ways can  you be more courageous?



April: (December 23 evening)

April is the fifth month of the year according to the modern Gregorian calendar. The name April comes from the Roman name Aprilis possibly derived from the Latin verb aperire, to open. Other theories suggest that the name was derived from the name Aphrodite, via the Etruscan equivalent Apru.

The month of April was sacred to Venus and kicked off with her festival the Veneralia. Venus Verticordia means "changer of hearts." Chastity, morality, beauty, and reputation were celebrated at this time. Virtue: Community

April Correspondences
Birthstone: diamond
Birthflower: Daisy or Sweet Pea
Zodiac signs: Aries and Taurus

Ideas: April 1 is also known as "Fool's Day." As we know from our study of Tarot, the Fool card represents new beginnings and new journeys. Since "openings" and "changing of hearts" is prevalent energy here, how can we make the most of that? Hospitality is today's virtue. What can we do to open up ourselves to these possibilities? Perhaps a Tarot reading or your favorite form of divination. What will be the theme for you this coming year? 

This is also Jolabokaflod (yo-la-bok-a-flod)- the Icelandic tradition of giving books to one another, and staying up all night reading them, while consuming copious amounts of chocolate :)


May: (December 24 evening)

May is the fifth month of the year according to both the Gregorian and the Julian Calendars. May was the third month in the early Roman calendar. The month of May was named after Maia, one of the Pleiades and the mother of the God Hermes. Maia has often been associated with Gaia, as “earth mother.” Virtue: Hospitality

May Correspondences
May's Birthstone: Emerald
May's Birthflower: Lily of the Valley, or Hawthorn
Zodiac signs: Taurus and Gemini

Ideas: Beltane takes pleace in May. Themes of fertility, the earth, and planting all suit the month of May. The virtue of Self-Discipline is honored. Floral themed crafts might be fun to do. Since hospitality is today's virtue, perhaps hosting a small gathering, or give small gifts to friends and neighbors.


June: (December 25th evening)

The month of June is named after the Roman Goddess of Marriage, Juno. It may also be derived from the Roman word iuniores, meaning "young ones". It is also possible that this month was dedicated to the junior branch of the legislature. Virtue: Self- Discipline.

June Correspondences
June's Birthstone: pearl or alexandrite or moonstone or perhaps even agate
June's Birthflower: Rose or honeysuckle
Zodiac signs: Gemini and Cancer

Ideas: The summer solstice is celebrated in June. Anything with a solar theme or with the “Fair Folk” might be fun to celebrate. You could create a sun dial, or put some cream and honey out for the fair ones who may be lurking outside. The return of the sun is taking place now, so it's a great time for commemorating it!


July (December 26 evening)

July is the seventh month in the Julian and Gregorian calendars. The ancient Romans called the month Quintilius and it was the 5th month of their calendar until the formation of the Julian calendar. The name was changed to July in honor of Julius Caesar who was born the 12th day of the month. The name Julius derives from Julus, which denotes a person of courage, honor, truthfulness, and creativity. Virtue: Fidelity (faithfulness, loyalty)

Other names for the month include the Anglo-Saxon names Haymonath and Maedmonath. The old Japanese calendar (before 1185) called July (approximately) minazuki,  the month of no water.

July Correspondences
The birthstone for the month of July is the Ruby
The birth flower for July is the Larkspur or the Water Lily
Zodiac signs: Cancer and Leo

Ideas: July, at least in the U.S., is the time when we celebrate Independence. The virtue of the day is Truth. In what was can you become more independent? What freedoms do you seek? Write down your thoughts, and your goals. Create a spell for them. Burn it in your cauldron and scatter the ashes. Design your own flag that represents your independence and freedom. July 1 is also known as “Build a Scarecrow day.” Scarecrows were meant to fend off corvid invaders, and are therefore, a symbol of protection. Pick up some hay from your local craft store, and make your own scarecrow! 


August (December 27 evening)

August is the eighth month of the Gregorian and Julian Calendars. It was originally called Sextilis, as it was the sixth month of the Roman Calendar year but it was renamed by the Roman Senate to honor Caesar Augustus in the year 8 BCE, because he had three great triumphs during this month, including his conquest of Egypt and had brought an end to a civil war. Virtue: Truth

August Correspondences
Birthstone for August: Peridot or Sardonyx
Birthflower for August: Gladiolus or Poppy
Zodiac signs: Leo and Virgo

Ideas: August is when we celebrate Tailtiu (Telsha)’s day, also known as Lughnassadh. It is a time for outdoor games, and celebration of the first harvest. In what ways can you protect your first harvest now? Perhaps a rune stave or sigil designed for this purpose? If the weather permits, you could go outside and play some games. What does "truth" mean to you? How can you honor that in your life?



September (December 28 evening)

The name September means "seventh month" as it was the seventh month of the year according to the old Roman Calendar which began in March. Today, September is the ninth month in the modern Gregorian calendar as it was in its predecessor, the Julian Calendar. The month of September has 30 Days. Virtue: Honor

September Correspondences
Birthstone sapphire
Birth flower Forget me not, Morning glory, aster
Deities Vulcan, Opis, Demeter
Zodiac signs: Virgo and Libra

Ideas: September brings the autumnal equinox in the northern hemisphere, and the second harvest. One European tradition associated with the season is that of the Corn Dolly. This was a decorative item woven of sheaves from the last of the season's harvest and kept safe through the winter for the spirit of the grain to rest in until the following planting season. You could create a corn dolly now, or design one for creation in September. Define honor. How do you live an honorable life? Who, in your life, displays this best? What traits can you emulate? 




October (December 29 evening)
October is the 10th month of the Julian and Gregorian calendars with a length of 31 days. The name October means 8th month in Latin as it was the 8th month of the year according to the old Roman Calendar which began in March. In the Northern Hemisphere, October is one of the most active months for the magical community. Virtue: Justice

October Correspondences
Birthstone: Pink tourmaline and opal
Birth Flower: Calendula
Zodiac signs: Libra and Scorpio

Ideas: One of our most sacred days is that of Samhain. It is also the third and final harvest. We honor our ancestors on Samhain, but in the Norse tradition, this day is also sacred to both Sunna and our ancestors. What inherited traits and gifts are you most grateful for? How can you honor your lineage today? Make candles or simply light some already made candles in honor of those who’ve come before you. Feast in their honor. 



November (December 30 evening)

The name November means "ninth month" as it was the Ninth month of the ancient Roman calendar. It is the 11th month of the Julian and Gregorian calendars. Virtue: Self-reliance

November Correspondences
November's Birth Stone: yellow topaz or citrine
November's Birth Flower: chrysanthemum
Zodiac signs: Scorpio and Sagittarius

Ideas: November is part of the “Time between the times,” in which we have ended one year, and are awaiting the next; representing the time between death and rebirth. It is a time of contemplation and giving thanks for a life well-lived. Take some time to envision your goals for the new year, and how you will implement them each month. Perhaps create a small, achievable monthly bucket list for 2019, and assign one to each month. Either create it on computer or design it onto a poster board, and place it in a prominent place where you will see it every day. Be sure to check off each one of your achievements, and celebrate them when you do! This is also a nice way to honor the virtue of self-reliance.


December (December 31 evening)

December is the 12th month of the Julian and Gregorian calendars. The name December means 10th month as it was the 10th month of the year according to the ancient Roman calendar that began in March.

December Correspondences
The birth flower for December is either the Holly or the Poinsettia
The birthstone for December is either blue topaz, turquoise, zircon or tanzanite
Zodiac Signs: Sagittarius and Capricorn

Ideas: this is the final day of celebration, so take time to review your 2018. Was it overly challenging? What can you celebrate, by way of accomplishments? What are you looking forward to in 2019? This is the time to feast, make oaths, relax and enjoy time with yourself, your family, and your friends.


I hope you found this useful. I tried not to go too far into depth, as I want to spark your own creativity. This is YOUR story, and only you can write it, properly. Please do share any ideas you have, photos, videos, etc. I will happily post them for others to be inspired. May your Yule celebrations be filled with joy, peace, happiness, and wonder.

Sláinte! (To your good health)

Wildly,
Witch

1 comment:

  1. What a wonderful explanation! As a witch early on her path, this information is invaluable to me. While it's a bit late for 2018, I will definitely be incorporating this into my Yule celebrations from now on, beginning next year! I'm already making lists of small gifts to give out each evening, that would be in keeping with the day, as well as ways to practice my Craft, on each day, in keeping with these traditions! Thank you! Brightest Blessings ♡

    ReplyDelete

I love kind and thoughtful comments. I look forward to reading yours!