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Monday, December 5, 2011

December 6th the other side of the Holidays

I have so many people to thank for getting me to this point in my life.
First off, my daughter Hannah. You have kept me going, been my strength, and have encouraged me to do all I can to be a good mother, good person, and a good writer.
To James, my writing buddy, thank you for your comments, criticism, and encouragement! May your book be published with LOTS of publicity!
To Jessica and Maria, thanks for not making me feel stupid for asking you questions, and answering them with honesty and giving us a chance to understand you and the way you think.

Today's blog is on Yuletide, and the pagan side of the holidays.
I interviewed two people who celebrate Yuletide, they are Jessica and Maria.
First I will do a small write up on Yuletide, where it came from, what it means for certain people.

Yuletide/Winter Festival
Not for sure exactly when Yuletide began, its been around for centuries. What is thought, it began with the Germanic people as a pagan religious festival. It was later absorbed into Christmas, to give the Christians that *its okay to celebrate, since its connected to the right religious aspects* feeling.

It was originally celebrated late December to early January determined by the Lunar Germanic calendar. The festival was placed on December 35th, when the Julian (Christian) calendar was adopted. Some scholars have even connected the celebration to the Wild Hunt (won't be discussed today).
There is the Yule Log, Yule Goat, Yule Boar, Yule Singing (Christmas Carols today) that all share with today's celebrations of Christmas.
Today many Neopagans have moved to their own type of rituals (another subject to be discussed at another time).

The word Yule comes from the Old English of Geol, Geohol, Geola, or Geoli, that is connected to the 12 Day Festival of Yule.
Gerra geola-period of time before Yule festival
Aeflera geola-period after Yule

It is also of Gothic and Old Norse roots.
in the 4th Century Gothic language it appears in the month name Fruma Jiuleis.
English historian Bede wrote that the Anglo-Saxon calendar included included months giola or gioli, corresponding with either modern December or late December early January. He gave December 25th as the first day of the heathen year, and said that the Anglo-Saxon's would celebrate all night to honor the Germanic Divine Mothers.

The Old Norse called them Yule-beings. King Haakon is credited with bringing Christianization into Norway and rescheduling the date of Yule to coincide with Christian holidays held at the same time.
At that time, Yule was celebrated on Midwinters Night for three nights (usually Dec 21-23, depending on the Solstice), they celebrate the return of the Sun in the northern sky.

This moves us to the Yule Log, which is even today used in Christmas celebrations.
The original had alot of different names.
North East England: Yule Clog
Midlands and West County: Yule Block
Lincolnshire: Gule Block
Cornwall: Stock of the Mock
British Isles:
Wales: Y Bloccy Gwylian (Festival Block)
Scotland: Yeel Carline (Christmas Old Wife)
Ireland: Bloc na Nollaig (Christmas Block)
Yule log was originally an entire tree that was brought into the home, and the largest end was put into the fire hearth, with the rest of the tree hanging out into the room. This may be where the 12 Days of Christmas came from. Beginning in the 20th century, especially in Europe and North America, it moved to where it was the largest log found that was burned over the 12 days.

Today people do the Yule Logs as a big rolled pastry.
Please don't ask me what this looks like!! lol

YULE LOG CAKE (from Cooks.com)
CAKE:

3/4 c. sifted cake flour
1/4 c. unsweetened cocoa
1 tsp. baking powder
1 tsp. vanilla extract
3 eggs
3/4 c. sugar
3 tbsp. water

FILLING;
2 egg yolks
2 tbsp. sugar
1 tsp. cornstarch
1/2 c. light cream
3/4 c. unsalted butter
1 c. confectioners' sugar
1 tsp. instant coffee
1 tsp. vanilla
1 c. finely chopped nuts

FROSTING:

3/4 c. semi-sweet chocolate pieces
3 tbsp. unsalted butter
1 tbsp. cream

Grease a 15"x10"x1" jelly roll pan; line bottom with wax paper, which has been greased. Sift flour, cocoa and baking powder into small bowl. In medium sized mixing bowl, beat eggs with electric mixer until thick and creamy. Add sugar gradually, beating until very thick. Add vanilla and water; fold in flour mixture.

Spread batter in pan. Bake in 375 degree oven for 12 minutes or until center springs back lightly when touched. Loosen cake around edges with small spatula; invert pan onto a clean towel which has been dusted with confectioners' sugar. Peel off wax paper. Roll up cake in towel. Place on wire rack, seam side down; cool. Prepare the filling and spread on cake as directed. Chill cake overnight then frost as directed.

FILLING: Mix egg yolks, sugar and cornstarch in small saucepan; blend in cream. Cook over medium heat, stirring constantly until mixture comes to a boil. Cool and chill. In mixing bowl, beat butter with electric mixer until soft and smooth. Beat in confectioners' sugar until smooth. Mix instant coffee with vanilla and add to sugar mixture. Add custard a spoonful at a time, beating constantly until light and fluffy; add nuts.

Unroll cake, spread with 2/3 of filling. Roll up cake. Place seam side down on cookie sheet. Spread with rest of filling mixture; chill overnight then frost.

FROSTING: Melt chocolate pieces, butter and cream over hot water, stirring until smooth. Let stand 5 minutes; quickly spread over roll. Score lightly with fork tines for textured effect. Chill cake overnight; keep chilled until serving time.

Okay, onto the reason as to why I started this, Jessica, and Maria's interviews, these are two very good friends (and YAY I get to meet Maria when I go to California in two weeks! She is meeting me in Phoenix!)

Jessica:
Me: Do you celebrate Christmas, or something else?
JI:We celebrate Christmas with our family because it doesn't hurt any to do so. Privately, we celebrate Yuletide.
Me: What is Yuletide?
JI: It is the celebration of the Winter Solstice for some.
Me: What is it for you?
JI: It is a celebration of Winter Solstice and The Wild Hunt for us. We are Eclectic pagan, not NeoPagans. We don't follow any set Path, we practice rites that are older with less flair than the trenders.....LOL
Me: What is the Wild Hunt?
JI: LOL......complicated! There are many versions of it. Our beliefs run towards the Welsh history....Arawn is the Leader of the Hunt....it involved Fairies & Lost Souls.....a depiction of chasing the "Darkness" away
Me: Okay, that sounds very cool, I will have to look that up!
JI: Most of what we practice personally is very much related to nature. Most of our "Holidays" are celebrations of the entrance or exit of each Season.
Me: What is your favorite season? What is your favorite way to celebrate it?
JI: Samhain (pronounced Sow-when) is a favorite for both of us. It is the end of the longer days of Autumn, the onset of the longer nights and the day when the veil between the worlds is at it's thinnest for most people. It is NOT a Hollywood version for us. Our favorite way to celebrate it is with a small incantation, lighting candles to light the way for the ones who are beyond the veil to find their way to us so that we can feel their presence once again if they are still close.
Me: If you could say anything to someone who either doesnt understand or feels you are wrong, what would you say?
JI: I would say that I respect their beliefs and only ask for the courtesy of the return of that respect. I would never try to tell someone that their beliefs are wrong. Religion is a very personal choice.......who am I to judge anyone elses??
Me: Very well said, thats exactly how I feel, sometimes people have to feel superior when they want to be right, and it isnt about us being superior, its about us living together in harmony.
JI: Exactly!
Me: Jessica, thank you so much for explaining this, and giving us all a chance to understand you.
JI: Thank You.....and anytime.

Another friend who is Pagan:
Maria:
Me: I know you are ummm Pagan (in some ways) I know you celebrate christmas, but do you do anything else?
MH: I celebrate Yule in my way as well as Christmas...cover all my bases
Me: Ah, cool, what is your way?
MH: Well you have the solstice..so a ceremony for that...light some candles, make some treats...since i don't anyone else here who celebrates...I keep it on the down low...
ME: Ah, perfectly understandable
MH: Each day you can celebrate with your alter and offer up thanks and acknowledge gods or goddesses; We did Celebrate Freya's birthday one year
Me: What is that?
MH: chanting..candles...wassial... Freya is a norse Goddess
Me: I have heard the name, what is she Goddess of?
MH: Norse goddess of Love
Me: What does celebrating her birthday involve? or how did you do it?
MH: We hung apples on a tree branch..she is the norse goddess of love...put love into your baking..just love who you are with at the time. Gingerbread sharing
Me: Sounds like a cross between Christmas and Valentines
MH: There was some prayers, offers...she is also assoicated with Valkeryes, I have participated in a group Yule ritual...mainly for the solstice and walked around in a circle welcoming all to the light.



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