Monday, December 22, 2008

Happy Solstice, Happy Family

After an anxious few days of restless sleep, waiting out weather storms in airports and daunting road conditions - we're all together again.

Robin spent two nights in Salt Lake after the winter storm in northeastern Washington practically shut down the Spokane airport. The very same storm headed southeast after it dumped it's load of snow in WA and threatened Utah with much of the same. We worried that he might not get out of Salt Lake City even. But Saturday the skies cleared, the sun came out and I drove tentatively on icy roads down to Spokane to pick him up while Auntie Kie thankfully watched the kids so I didn't have to take them with me.

Both Isla and Roscoe were thrilled to wake up yesterday morning and crawl into bed with their daddy after a seemingly long separation. We celebrated being all together again at a Winter Solstice Party out in the valley with friends, a feast and a yule log.

Traditionally, the burning of the Yule log marks the beginning of Christmas celebrations. Burning a Yule log is probably the oldest Christmas tradition there is. It started even before the first Christmas as a celebration of the winter solstice. Celebrating Yule means no work as long as the special log burns and requires gathering family, friends and neighbors for songs and stories, dances and romances, feasts and fun.

After a little research I found out that the Yule log gets its name from the Scandinavian tradition, but the ritual burning of a special log during winter solstice took place as far west as Ireland, as far south as Greece, and as far north as Siberia. It was in the fourth century AD when Pope Julius I decided to celebrate Christmas around the Winter Solstice, the Yule log tradition continued, but the fire came to represent the light of Christ instead of the light of the Sun.

The traditional ritual goes something like this, on or about Christmas eve a big log was brought into a home or large hall. Songs were sung and stories told. Children danced. Offerings of food and wine and decorations were placed upon it. Personal faults, mistakes and bad choices were burned in the flame so everyone's new year would start with a clean slate. The log was never allowed to burn completely, a bit was kept in the house to start next years log. The log brought good luck. Any pieces that were kept protected a house from fire, or lightning, or hail. Ashes of the log would be placed in wells to keep the water good. Ashes were also placed at the roots of fruit trees and vines to help them bear a good harvest.

Wishing you a happy solstice and holiday season and that your new year brings you luck and begins with a clean slate!

1 comment:

The Unknown Potter said...

Best wishes at solstice time here-thanks for the yule log tradition info,I knew some of it.keep safe