How to celebrate Yule always seems to be a huge topic of debate for many within the Pagan community. I’m in several Pagan groups on Facebook and all I’ve been seeing posted in them lately is how you should (and shouldn’t) celebrate Yule. Some people get into a tizzy if you celebrate Christmas, some people think Pagan’s shouldn’t do the ‘Santa thing’, and some just don’t celebrate at all (party poopers).
Personally, I like Yule. I also like Christmas. I think they’re both fun and a great way to spend quality time with family. Whether you celebrate either or not doesn’t bother me in the slightest. However, I do feel that you can celebrate BOTH Yule and Christmas without tossing aside your beliefs, without squashing other people’s beliefs, and all while having a great time.
Below I have listed what my family and I have planned to do this year for both Yule and Christmas. Some of these things we have done since Big A was born and others are new traditions we have added in.
I always try to incorporate some sort of community service projects for the family during the holiday season. I feel that teaching my kids about helping others and serving their community is one of the best gifts I can give them for the holidays (I do give them presents, too). As the kids get older, I plan on changing these up a bit, but for now, while they’re toddlers, this is what we do.
If nothing else, I hope this list can help some of you get ideas for fun things to do with your toddlers during the holidays. I hope you all have a Blessed Yule and a Happy Christmas!
December 20th – Eve of Yule
- Leave gift of homemade banana bread outside for the elves and fairies (Servicing: The Fairies and Elves, duh. Perhaps some bugs, too.)
- Put handmade gifts under one of several of our Yule/Christmas trees. (I can get rather obsessed with Yule decorating. Just look at my Yule Pinterest board and you’ll see what I mean.)
- Decorate the Yule Log and light candles before going to bed to welcome in the rebirth of the sun. (We place dried leaves, cranberries, and such around the log. We also leave behind some pomegranate juice in honor of Hades and Persephone.)
December 21st – Yule
- Wake up early to watch the sun’s rebirth
- Cook an orange-themed (the fruit) meal for breakfast. (Oranges are a fun way to represent the sun.)
- Open our handmade gifts.
- Go for a walk and pick up any trash found along the way. (Servicing: Mother Earth)
- Have a Yule dinner (Usually something Cuban, like what’s found on my Cuban Thanksgiving post.).
- Watch the sun set.
- Read Pagan tales about the sun.
- Make pine cone bird feeders and hang them up in the back yard. (Servicing: The neighborhood birds)
- Read stories about The Horned God.
- Donate used clothes and toys. (Servicing: Fellow humans)
- Read stories about The Goddess in relation to winter.
December 24th – Eve of Christmas
- Decorate a tree for Christmas
- Make cider and cookies.
- Deliver cookies to our neighbors (Servicing: Community).
- Read stories about Santa Claus (While some Pagans dislike talking about the big guy, I don’t mind him. In fact, I think he’s rather cool. I mean, the dude loves cookies, digs the color red, is totally not ashamed of his curves, he’s one of the founders of the ‘beards are hot’ movement, AND he gives out gifts. Hello? What’s not to like?).
December 25th – Christmas
- Spend Christmas with relatives.
- Give out homemade gifts to relatives.
Traditions We Don’t Do
- Elf on the Shelf… *shudders* That little guy freaks me out, that’s all I’m going to say.
- Nativity Scene… I have no qualms with the nativity scene, it just isn’t for me. As the kids get older, if they decide they want to do one, then we’ll do one.
- Advent Calendar… I think it’s a cool idea, it just takes far more time and planning than I have to give at the moment. Maybe it’s something I’ll incorporate in as the children get older.
- Listening to Christmas Music the Day After Thanksgiving Until New Years… No, just no.
Traditions I Plan on Incorporating Later
- Advent or ‘Solstice’ Calendar… I think these are really cool, but I just don’t think my kiddos would be that interested in it right now. I’ll probably wait until Big A is around Kindergarten aged to think about adding it into our holiday.
- Food Bank Service… Once the kids are older, I would love to have all of us volunteer at a local food bank. Right now, my kids are 3 years, 2 years, and 6 weeks old, so I just can’t manage it at the moment.
What are some of your family’s Yule/Christmas traditions? What are some traditions you don’t do/would like to do?