Another slightly late post as it’s been an exciting week! Here in the Sylvan Household we don’t really do Christmas. Mr B is a big Scrooge anyway so he’s not a fan and, since we both have an affinity with nature we choose to celebrate Yule, the Winter Solstice instead. Up until recently Yule has always been a smaller celebration with Santa and Christmas still taking the main stage, but since T has realised the truth about Father Christmas we have shifted our main celebration to Yule. We still celebrate Christmas but we mostly just open the gifts that other people have given us, eat junk food (and mince pies) and kick back and relax. So I’m still looking forward to the 25th.
Thursday was the Winter Solstice. It is the day of the year that we, in the Northern Hemisphere, are the furthest away from the sun which results in the hours of daylight being at their shortest. The idea is that if you can survive the longest night then every day from here on in is a little bit longer, a little warmer and one step closer to the renewed spring.
Traditionally people would decorate their homes with evergreens, holly, ivy and mistletoe, and lit candles to stave off the darkness. Also, there are so many jobs to be done in the Winter time – tools need repairing, clothes need mending – but not enough daylight hours to get it all done. It would make sense for a community to exchange skills with each other to ensure that everyone survived the cold and were fit to start work again come the Spring.
Neo-pagan’s believe that Yule marks the death and rebirth of the God. When the sun sets on the Solstice it marks His weakest point in the year and then when it rises again the following day we know that it is a little stronger. This marks His transition from old Wise Man to young Hunter again. The God as The Hunter looks after us over the coming cold weeks and slowly gains in strength. This is an idea that reflects across many religions. In ancient Egypt this time of year marked the birth of Horus, the Greeks celebrated the birth of Apollo and the Romans, Mithras. These are all Sun Gods. Christians obviously also celebrate the birth of Jesus Christ, the son of God who’s birth was marked by a bright star in the sky and is a lord of light in his own right.
To celebrate Yule we decorate our home with greenery, we tend to have a modern Christmas tree, but we also enjoy collecting plants to make a wreath. This year we went to Haldon Forest to collect some Holly, Ivy and Pine. I’m quite pleased with my efforts this year. I prefer my wreaths to have an organic asymmetric look and am not afraid of making them 3-dimensional. Last year I allowed T to choose the colours of the Christmas tree and she went for a particularly festive pink and black theme. I scrambled to find some pink decorations and found these rather cute sparkly pink birds. This year’s tree is a more traditional red and white/silver so the birds were redundant. I think they look rather effective sitting on my wreath. There was enough greenery left over for Tess to create a table centre-piece as well.
We also give gifts. Previously we had a strict ‘useful or handmade gifts only’ rule to replicate the idea of an exchange of skills but as Yule has become our main celebration we have made an exception. At Christmas we only open the gifts given to us by friends as they are often given with the intention of being opened on the 25th and it would be disrespectful of us to open them early. This year I was given a gorgeous Lush ‘Jelly Bomb’ by T and Mr B and I treated ourselves to the Blood Bowl board game.
In knitting news I have been working my way through my Christmas orders. The flat-packed Staffie has been completed and second dog was made to send to customers. The pink fluffy gloves have been finished and posted. I was kind of jealous of those gloves. I always love my fluffy gloves, but I always end up giving them away.
I have finished one dice bag and have two more as WIP. I’ve had a couple of last minute orders from Americans who were so pleased to have found the perfect gift they were willing to put up with the fact they were guaranteed to be late. I actually feel pretty honoured by this.
Unfortunately this has resulted in my personal projects being put on hold again. I finished one present (but accidentally gifted it without taking a photo) but the others will have to be given in the New Year.
I hope you are all enjoying your own festive periods, however you choose to celebrate (and even if you choose not to celebrate at all). I wish you all love, light and good fortune for the coming months.