So, the longest night of the year is upon us. Put yourself in the place of ancient people who lived in the cold northern regions of Europe, who’s only source of light was fire on these short waning Autumn nights. In the coldest areas of the Northern Hemisphere, fire not only provided light by life-giving heat. On the longest night of the year, my ancestors would bring in the biggest log that they could manage, and it would burn the whole night through. Hopefully.
Along with the log, which came to be known as the Yule Log, they would also bring in an evergreen tree. In a world of cold white, layered in darkness at night, the tree had a psychological effect on these people. I like to dig into the primal “whys” and not just run with the dogma of the day.
Yule, a celebration of the “Great Hunt”, a superstitious belief that Gods and Spirits roam the earth during this time. Now, people hope for visits from a large man with a white beard, while people then kept a vigil against a visit from Odin who was of similar appearance. Yule lasts from from the Winter Solstice to the first of the new year.
Most of these things have been appropriated by other superstitions, and others have not. I, for one, am thankful that animal sacrifice isn’t part of our daily Winter lives. Light is no longer an issue of lacking, now we have too much. Greenery is present indoors year-round. Fire isn’t our only source of heat anymore. While we have come a long way, technologically speaking, we still need our psychological comfort traditions and ceremony.
So tonight when it’s cold, depending on where you reside, and the longest night begins, give a thought to those who held a vigil to keep the fires burning.
Happy Winter Solstice / Yule, everybody 🖖😸🌒🔥🌲
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