What is Yule?

Learning the cultural background of Yule and its striking similarities to Christmas


Brooke Knight

Yule is a Pagan holiday that is usually celebrated by Neopagans, Pagans, Germanic peoples, Norse Pagans and Celtic witches.

Story by Margaret Mutoke, staff writer

As Christmas is right around the corner, we must remember the origins of this holiday. Yule is a Pagan holiday that is usually celebrated by Neopagans, Pagans, Germanic peoples, Norse Pagans and Celtic witches. Scholars have also connected it to the Jul festival from Norse cultures because of their similarities.

What is Yule?

Yule is a festival to celebrate the promise of the return of the sun. An amazing thing happens during this time of the year. Earth’s axis tilts away from the sun in the northern hemisphere and reaches its greatest distance from the sun. The sun sets and rises in the same place. The sun eventually starts north again and comes back. It is a celebration of the light emerging from the darkness and ushering positivity into people. 

In Celtic mythology, it is believed that the Oak King and his wife, The Goddess,

surrendered their energies for the birth of the Sun God. This holiday has been celebrated for thousands of years and even predates the birth of Jesus.

Yule symbols 

Evergreen trees:

Evergreens symbolizes immortality and resurrection, growing in a spiral and reminding us of reincarnation and rebirth. This plant is special to Osiris, where His death and resurrection was a staple in Egyptian religion. This is also special to Dionysys, God of Vegetation, blossoming and the Return of Spring.


Mistletoe Represents fertility. It is special to Druids because it has healing and banishing properties.

The wreath: 

The wreath represents the Wheel of Life, similar to Evergreens, and eternal life.


The festival of light out of darkness and the tradition of lighting candles is extremely popular. Red, green and the gold of the returning sun are the colors of Yule. 

Yule traditions 

You can incorporate Yule into your Christmas routine by:

  • Building a Yule altar out of candles, pinecones and pine needles
  • Making a wreath out of pine, fir, juniper and cedar and placing it by dorway for good fortune in your house
  • Burning a Yule log for 12 days
  • Exchanging gifts that reflect nature
  • Giving back to nature

Yuletide charm

You need:

  • One wooden spoon
  • Thin red and green or gold ribbon

Take the spoon in your right hand and say, “Brightest blessings on this Yuletide Fare, give love and peace in equal share.” Tie the ribbon in a bow around the neck of the spoon and say, “With Yuletide warmth my heart be blessed, that lifts the heart of kin and guests’.” This charm is a great gift for family friends and can also grant good luck on challenging days.