Modern Yule Traditions for Pagan Families
If you read my previous post you know there are three variants of Yule, and Yuletide will change depending on which holiday you are observing. For the purpose of this post I will be generalizing Yule activities for the family based on today's Scandinavian Heathen Yule. Feel free to apply this to the date you are observing.
Modern Yule for the Pagan Family
Hunt for your Tree
This is one of my favourite ways to kick off the season. First you need to find a tree farm that serves hot chocolate by a fire. Once you have found one, get everyone bundled up in their cosiest winter gear and hit the road. After you cut down your Yuletide tree it is time to warm the soul by enjoying hot chocolate by a crackling fire.
Craft your Decorations
Having kids craft decorations for the home has to be one of the best ways to get them into the holiday spirit. Pick up some straw, grab some ribbon, and forage for other crafting supplies to create animals and shapes for your tree. To try your luck on the ultimate crafting project try creating a Yule Goat out of straw and ribbon (Julbokken)!
Bake Yuletide Goodies
Growing up Swedish, Yule wasn't Yule without pepparkakor and kanelbullar (thin Swedish gingersnaps and cinnamon rolls)! My mom literally baked batches of these every week until Yule.
To nurture my husband's German heritage he bakes German pancakes for breakfast and braided stollen for dessert on the day after Frau Holle leaves her gifts at the front door.
Read Yuletide Stories
One of the best ways to incorporate the spirit of Yule into the lives of children is through stories encompassing the tone of the holiday. If you're looking for Scandinavian folklore I highly suggest The Tomten by Astrid Lundgren; but if you're looking for something encompassing the Old Norse lore of Yuletide, Old Mother Frost will provide your family with the magical and cosy messages everyone wants for the season.
Watch Olaf's Frozen Adventure
You would never imagine how much research went into Disney's 22-minute short story. Every time I watch Olaf's Frozen Adventure I pick up on more subtle displays of Yule. Some of the obvious are: The Yule bell, julbokken, special folk wear and special goodies.
The story conveys the message that being together over unique family traditions is what makes holidays special.
Do Yule Shoes
This is one of my favourite parts of Yule. As far as gift giving goes it is pretty humble. Shoes placed outside are filled with candy, oranges and a small toy. Some families chose to nestle a small wrapped gift among the shoes. In our family this is how Frau Holle leaves her gifts for children the night of Yule. It is our way to include a little touch of magic to the festivities while honouring ancient German legend.
Spice Up Your Life
Glögg is a traditional Scandinavian mulled wine that warms the home and soul. Not only do wine drinkers love it, but it fills the home with smells of the holidays. It involves warming a mix of wine and spices, including: cinnamon sticks, vanilla, oranges, cloves and cardamom. Vodka or brandy can also be added, and there are non-alcoholic variants too. If you want to save time you can find non-alcoholic Glögg mix at the IKEA market.
Honor Your Ancestors and Feast
Historical Heathen Yule is a three day celebration where gods and ancestors are honoured over a meaty sacrifice. It would be prepared, cooked and shared among all in attendance. Today we can translate this to holding a feast and toasting in honor of loved ones. Remember this is a day to celebrate with merriment, memory and cheer. Your ancestors wouldn't want you grieving.
I hope you enjoy trying out some or all of these traditions, and that they help warm your home and soul for the holidays. If you have any traditions you would like to share please include them in the comment section below. From my family to yours,
God Jul & Fröhliche Weihnachten