Yule is the winter solstice, the longest night and shortest day of the year. This is a turning point. A time of birth and renewal.
The days begin to lengthen at Yule, as this is the time when the Goddess gives birth to the new Sun God, bringing light back to the land. In some pagan traditions, this is the night when the Oak King, ruler of the light and the Holly King, ruler of darkness, battle for supremacy. At Yule, the Oak King is victorious, bringing light to the land until they battle once more at Litha, when the Holly King prevails.
Bells would be rung to drive away any malicious spirits that may be around as well as attract and invite the Goddess.
Candles were burned to help bring warmth to the cold of winter, and to encourage the light to return to the land.
Holly was also held sacred as a symbol of rebirth and eternal life due to it being an evergreen. As the white berries of the mistletoe were thought to symbolize the essence of the God, the red berries of the holly symbolized the blood of the Goddess.
The Norse god, Odin, along with his eight legged horse, Sleipnir, lead a party across the sky in a celebration called the Wild Hunt. Children would place boots full of treats for Odin and Sleipnir near the chimney, and would be rewarded with food, candy and gifts for their kindness.
St. Nicholas was a 4th century Greek bishop who had a reputation for giving gifts, and eventually became the patron saint of children.
Le Befana is a figure in 13th century Italian legend. She flies on a broomstick and enters homes through the chimney. She offers candy and gifts to children, but a naughty child may receive a lump of coal instead.
Make a Yule Log Candle Holder
You'll need these tools and materials to make your Yule log candle holder:
A wood chisel and hammer
A spade bit, Forstner bit or large drill bit – this depends on the candle size.
- Using a wood chisel and hammer, peel a strip of bark from one side of the log. Depending on the thickness of the bark, this will make a natural stop to keep the log in place.
- You can also use a table saw, planer, or a chisel and hammer to flatten one side of the log.
- Another option is to use wedges or a stand to keep the log from rolling.
You'll need a spade bit, Forstner bit or a large drill bit that is about the same size as the candles you've chosen. Drill the holes where you've marked them out.
Clean out the holes with the chisel as necessary. You can also use some sandpaper to clean it up.