5 Ways to Celebrate Yule Without Spending a Dime

Yule is one of my favorite times of year. The weather finally cools down here in the desert. There's holiday music and movies. I feel no regrets about spending an evening cozied up on the couch with my husband and a mug of spiced tea. Um, fuzzy socks, anyone?! I adore fuzzy socks! The only thing better than fuzzy socks is Yuletide fuzzy socks! Ahhhh!

But I also love the intent of Yule. Now is the time for us to reflect on our lives. As Pagans, we have several Sabbats to honor this, but this is the most poignant of the self-reflection periods. 

Yule is the Winter Solstice, the shortest day of the year. After today, the daylight hours grow by about one minute a day. Spiritually, Yule is representative of the return of the sun. The God, who died on Samhain, is now reborn. It's a reminder that while death is part of life (as seen in nature as winter), birth is also a part of life.

Much in the way we take time to rest and restore in the cold winter months, death is a respite for the soul, a time for that spirit to reflect on lessons learned in life. Ultimately, Yule is about transformation and rebirth, both physically and spiritually. This can also mean transformation of yourself. If the path you're on is uncomfortable, now is the time to make changes towards the life you desire.

As we all know, red and green (God and Goddess respectively) are the colors of Yule, as are gold and silver (God/Goddess). Hot foods representing the return of the sun are very much appropriate, like ginger (yay gingerbread!), cinnamon, cloves, and—out here in the Southwest—hot peppers! Of course pine, cedar, and evergreens are an important incorporation of the Sabbat, representing the eternal soul. 

If you're looking for ways to celebrate Yule that don't include elbowing angry shoppers for the newest iPhone, you've come to the right place! Let's get started!

Watch the sunrise
When my husband and I were living in Phoenix, we'd get up early, bundle up in sweatshirts and mittens, and hike into the mountains to watch the sunrise from a precipice. It was amazing and magickal. Watching the sun breech the horizon is truly like watching a birth. It's innate and raw and deeply spiritual. Since we no longer live so close to hiking trails, we now watch the sunrise crest the mountains from our backyard (what a blessing to have a mountain view from our yard!). 

Wherever you choose to watch the sunrise, you won't be disappointed! Make some hot cocoa, slip into your favorite sweatshirt, stumble sleepily into the cold December air, and watch the Yule sunrise. It's truly spiritual. 

Light a Yule candle
Nothing says Yule like a Yule log. Traditionally, carving wishes and spells into a Yule log and then burning it is a meaningful and simple way to cast and celebrate Yule. But I also understand that some parts of the country (and world) don't have 60* Decembers. 

Just so we're clear, that's not me bragging. You're talking to someone who adores the cold and snow. If anything, that's whining.  

*Do you wanna build a snowmaaaan?*

Yes, Anna, I'd love to build a snowman. But since I only have sand and some &#$%ing desert brush, and I don't have a sister who can whip up ice rinks and shit, I guess I'll just leave that to you. 

Where was I before I made a fictional child cry? Oh, right. Too cold outside for a Yule log....Use a candle! 

Of course you can treat yourself to a new Yule candle (I love these!). But generally us Pagans have a spare candle or two laying around. Carve in your wishes for the New Year and light that bad boy up! If you're super in-tuned with fire, you may even try your hand at divination! =D

Bake gingerbread
We all know gingerbread men are a huge part of Christmas. And without getting into a big debate, that tradition stems from Yule. The reason they're gingerbread men is because they are representing the God. Makes sense, right?

So whether you bake some men or get creative and make gingerbread suns, anything incorporating ginger and cinnamon is most definitely a Yuletide-appropriate treat! Make your home smell amazing, make your belly happy, and treat yourself to some holiday music while you bake! 

Listen to the silence
Winter is a pretty quiet time in nature. Most animals have migrated or are hibernating. Even people seem to stay inside after dark. One of the ways I love to relish the winter solitude is to simply go outside and listen to the silence, especially at night. There's a magickal quality to the quiet, a certain hum of energy that can't be felt any other time of year. Maybe it's the impending renewal. Maybe it's the promise of possibility. Whatever it is, it's tranquil and serene.

Bundle up, bring some tea, and sit outside for a few minutes in the silence. Star gaze. Watch the snow fall. Take the cool night air deep into your lungs. Enjoy the quiet whisper of the wind cutting through the trees. Breathe in the season. Winter, after all, is a magickal one!

Enjoy the holiday lights
Being that Yule is about the return of the sun, clearly light plays a vital role. My husband and I love to bundle up and spend a couple of hours in the evening just walking through the neighborhood and enjoying the light displays. Exercise and celebration—win,win!

Your community may also have a luminarias celebration, which is extremely popular in the Southwest. Again, there are blurred lines here with Christianity, but I'm not here to mud sling. There's enough aggravation in life without me looking for it. 

New Mexico takes their luminarias seriously, and it's inspiring to watch the community come together to decorate the town in glowing paper lanterns. Watching the warm light as it dances and flickers across the sidewalk on a cold December evening is spiritual and breathtaking. I look forward to it every year! As I weave through those candlelit paths, I'm celebrating the return of the sun. It doesn't matter what the other people are there for. It's not really any of my business.  Not my pizza, not my pepperoni. Know what I mean?

....great. Now I'm hungry.

Remember to take some time to unwind this Yule! Try not to let yourself get too frazzled by all the hustle and bustle. And if all else fails, put on some fuzzy socks. Fuzzy socks are the answer to everything!

What's your favorite Yule tradition?

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  1. Watching the sunrise...I need to get my ass up in the morning. Ha! Lovely list as always!

    1. Haha! Yeah, I understand the dilemma when you're all snuggled in your warm bed! Coffee as a bribe? Chai? A chai latte is my motivation for so much in life. =P

      Happy Yule!

  2. My favorite Yule activity is having a fire in our wood stove fireplace. I have lived in New Mexico and saw luminaries along the sidewalk in Las Cruces. Now I live in Florida :-( My partner and I visit the lights in our neighborhood. Happy Yule-I enjoyed reading your article!

    1. Thank you. Glad you enjoyed it! A wood stove fire and a warm cup of tea sounds like a little piece of heaven! Blessed Yule! =D

  3. I love these ideas! I've sporadically kept up with your blog for a while now, and I'm hoping to become more consistent because I feel that a lot of what you talk about is in line with my own practice.
    I'm actually new to the North West New Mexico area, so if you hear of any events (like the luminaries) I'd love to hear about them!

    1. I'm glad you're finding the site helpful! =D I'm not in your neck of the state, but I know NM takes their luminarias (That's not a typo. That's how they spell it) very seriously! So, I'm sure you can find something in your neighborhood. Definitely check it out if you get a chance. Gorgeous! Annnnd score yourself a green chile (that's also how the spell it) burger. The pride of the state! =P Happy Yule!

  4. I think this year I will have the kids try their hand at carving wishes into candles. Way better than blowing out a birthday candle, this will last all night and I am sure they will keep checking on them.

    1. That sounds like fun! That will really brighten the magic of the Solstice for them. =D Happy New Year!

  5. Wow. I had no idea about the symbolism of the gingerbread men. But now that I do, making them will feel so much more special :) The luminarias celebration sounds lovely; I need to add it to my to-see list. I'm a big fan of listening to the stillness of winter nights and of watching the Yule sunset. I wish I had an East-facing window with a view; I'd watch sunrises from there. Crawling out of bed at dawn just isn't something I'm capable of.
    One of my favorite Yule traditions is burning the wishes. We write down our resolutions/wishes on small pieces of paper and light them up on the Yule candle. While they burn, we will them to come true. We also make dry fruit/nut offering garlands and hang them on trees outside for woodland creatures. It's nice coming back the next day and seeing the snacks gone or half gone.
    Thanks for another cozy, fuzzy (pun intended) and informative blog.
    Have a blessed, happy Yule, Michaela!

    1. Totally feel you on the early morning excursion! I only do it because I'm in the desert where it's not as cold (though this year has been pretty chilly so far with lows in the 20s). Once we're back on the east coast, I'll probably be watching from a window! =P

      I love the fruit garland! THAT will have to be something we do once we're back on the east coast. Thanks for the suggestion! =D You truly make the sabbats so special for your family! ♥

      Blessings to you and yours, my dear! Health and happiness in 2018! ♥

  6. Love going round town and looking at the lights!! A good night with fuzzy socks and a good "warming" drink in front of the tree and TV watching great movies!!

    1. The lights are my favorite as well! Hope you're getting your fill of glittering lights this Yule! =D 🎄


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