Yule (circa December 21) is the shortest day of the year and the time of greatest darkness. As Yule is the shortest day of the year it marks the Suns low ebb, and after this the Sun will begin to grow stronger.The Goddess gives birth to the God and the peoples await the return of the light (the Sun). Yule is the remnant of ancient rituals meant to end the harsh Winter and hurry Spring when the peoples could grow their food. The Goddess takes a well-deserved rest after her long labor until Spring.
Nowadays, Wiccans are well aware the sun will rise the next dawn and we usually don’t have to worry about food running out, since we can just run to our nearest grocery store and restock. Wiccans see it as a reminder that with death comes rebirth. Wiccans light fires or candles to welcome the return of the sun and the coming warmth of Spring.
The word Yule comes from the Germanic “Iul” and means “Wheel.” Yule is a Solar Sabbat and is sacred to the Old God, the Lord of Winter. This ancient God has many names including Cernunnos, Odin, Harlequin, Santa Claus, and the Holly King. This God is portrayed as an old man, majestic and often jolly. Sometimes He is shown as a King in ermine trimmed robes, other times He is shown as a Jester and called the King of Fools. As the Crone is the Goddess of Death, the Old God is the Lord of Death and of the Spirit World and magic. He is the God of the forest, of animals, and of the hunt. Often He is shown with antlers or horns. In this form He is the subject of one of the oldest paintings known to exist, “Le Sorciere” a cave painting from Cro Magnon times.
Yule is also known as Midwinter, and as Alban Arthan (pro; “AL-bahn AR-than”).