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Subscribe to this list via RSS Blog posts tagged in yuletide

Posted by on in Culture Blogs

 

Housefly - Wikipedia

 

Here's the odd thing this Yule: I've been experiencing a plague of flies.

What's odd is not the flies themselves, but the timing. Usually about a fortnight or so after I move the outdoor plants inside before Samhain, there's a hatching of flies. I presume that the eggs come in with the plants, and the warmth of the house hatches them out. Hence, flies. It always takes me a few days to hunt them all down. With flies, I've learned, you have to be pretty ruthless. If you don't get them before they breed, you'll be sorry.

This autumn there was no hatching of flies. At the time, I remarked the fact, but can't say that I missed them.

On the first day of Yule, though, I saw the first fly. The next day, there were a couple more. The next, a few more.

You know how it is with the Yuledays: things that happen then somehow take on added significance.

Well, the mistletoe is still hanging, and has been since Midwinter's Eve. Technically, this means that the house is under the bough, i.e. in a state of Yulefrith—the peace of Yule—and that nothing should be killed here for the duration.

I'll admit that this gave me pause, but only briefly. Call me impious, but in my house the Yulefrith extends to fellow humans and—if we're pushing it—to fellow mammals. Yes, flies are kin, too—We be of one blood, you and I—but when it comes to frith, I'm sorry: bugs don't count. As I've said before, sometimes you have to be ruthless.

So, I killed them as I saw them. Every day, through all the first Twelve Days of Yule, there were more flies for me to kill, like some sort of weird sacrificial holiday ritual.

Was this a seasonal anomaly, I wonder: the usual autumn hatching, come late? Did I maybe bring them in with the Yule tree, or with the holly from the yard that I cut and brought in a couple of days before Midwinter's Eve?

A buddy of mine once made the observation that omens imply the out-of-place. To know what's unusual, you first have to know what's usual. (He was dating a Druid at the time who, out walking one day, picked up an oak leaf from the ground and said: Oh, it's an omen of great good luck to find an oak leaf! as if this were some nugget of ancient Druidic wisdom.  My friend thought: Um, it's November, and we're in a stand of oak trees. Needless to say, that relationship didn't last long.) In Minnesota, flies in late December are out of place. So what does it mean that I've had an infestation of flies through all the days of Yule?

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  • Steven Posch
    Steven Posch says #
    Eek!
  • Anthony Gresham
    Anthony Gresham says #
    I think of flies as omens of tribulation. Each fly you dealt with per day would mean the number of tribulations you will face eac

assorted-color figurine collection bokeh photography

 

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Posted by on in Paths Blogs
Yule Ritual Plan

Planning a ritual in the time of Covid may require some adaptations. My kindred usually does winter holidays indoors, as illustrated by the picture above of last year's Yule, but this year we decided to do a bonfire outside in my back yard. Outdoor events are considered safer than indoor ones.

Ritual planning can require some forethought even if you've conducted a lot of rituals. Here are some ideas for an Asatru style Yule ritual, which other kinds of heathens, pagans, and polytheists might like to vik as well. (Asatruars sometimes semi-humorously say we are "viking" something, because that sounds so much cooler than "stealing.")

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Posted by on in Culture Blogs

 

 

My hands-down favorite Jewsploitation film (yes, gods help us, there really is such a genre), is the campy, satirical 2003 Hebrew Hammer. Here's the story.

Evil gay Santa (hey, a little gratuitous homophobia always makes everything funnier, right?) formulates a plot to destroy all the other winter holidays by absorbing them into one big, undifferentiated Christmas blob.

So the Hebrew Hammer, a nebbishy Jewish superhero—he's straight, of course—teams up with the guy from the Kwanzaa Liberation Front (also straight) to foil evil gay Santa's evil plot.

 

Satire aside, you have to appreciate the very real problem that the film addresses. Christmas as we know it has become a cannibalistic microorganism that just wants to engulf all the other holiday amoebas in its environment.

Part of this, of course, is nicey-nice Kumbaya feel-goodism. See, we're really all just alike: we all celebrate at this time of year.

In fact, of course, we don't. Muslims, for instance, don't have a festival of lights at this time of year (or at all, really). Diwali, in late October or early November, is nowhere near the Christmas orbit.

Things get a little more complicated with Yule. Pagans like to think of Yule as the mother and Christmas the daughter festival, but that's really a pretty disingenuous reading of the relationship between the two. In fact—like it or not—our modern Yule has been reborn from the womb of Christmas, and the two holidays still look a lot (some of us would say, too much) alike.

Yes, it would be nice to think that, for a while, we can all just set aside our differences and celebrate together. But reducing all the other winter holidays to mere satellites of Christmas is no way to go about it.

So in fact, no, Yule is not the pagan Christmas, and we're not all just the same.

So what?

 

On Midwinter's Eve, we sing the Sun down from the highest hill in town and kindle a fire as it sets. This fire we keep burning all night. In the morning, we sing the Sun back up out of the Mississippi Valley.

Every year, as crows call overhead, and light and color stream back into the world after the year's longest night, I always think: this is it. This is real Yule, in the nutshell.

Let me tell you, it doesn't look anything like Christmas.

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  • Anthony Gresham
    Anthony Gresham says #
    When I was very young the Christmas decorations didn't go up until after Thanksgiving even in the stores. I remember being shocke

Posted by on in Studies Blogs
Perchta, Winter Goddess of the Alps

The Yuletide is a season of wonderment, with warm food and drink, songs of joy and peace, the soft lighting of hearth fires, candles, and strings of electric light, gifts and blessings. But there's a darker aspect: the nocturnal Wild Hunt, when the fierce spirits of the wilderness roam.

 

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Posted by on in Culture Blogs
Last Tree Standing

If it were a contest, I'd win every year.

Last Yule tree on the block.

Call it the “Long Yule.”

Up here in the North, through our dark days and cold nights, we come yet again and again to drink from that fountain of living light.

Yule is a long farewell. At Thirteenth Night we begin; again, a thirtnight later, at Twenty-Sixth (3 x 13) Night, we continue. Last of all is Thirty-Ninth Night, what in Shetland they call Up-Helly-Aa: “Up-Holiday-All.”

By then, of course, we can see the fires of Imbolc burning on the horizon: our midwinter, halfway hope, by which time the greens will all have been burned and the geegaws laid by, with nothing over but ash, and the pure, pure Light.

The rest of Yule is all boxed up and put away. Only the tree remains: a worn familiarity, its glories somewhat dimmed as the Sun's light waxes.

But for now, for just this little while longer, I'll fondly sit and warm my hands at the embers of a dying fire.

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Posted by on in Culture Blogs
Born, Born Upon This Morn

Born, born

upon this morn:

a sacred day is dawning.

Rise, rise

and walk the skies

of this Midwinter's morning.

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