The end of a long week

Birthdays! We’ve had the week of birthdays, including both my guys, a dear friend’s baby’s birth, and several wonderful friends. It’s been good, but exhausting. Not so exhausting that I can’t enjoy the feeling of winter creeping into my home–the ticking rumble of the wall heater, the feeling of curling up on the sofa near my sweetie, drinking hot tea with honey and chewing rustic, slightly stale walnut-raisin bread. I’m almost ready for Yule to begin. Almost. Give me a couple of days of respite from the frantic pace of birthdays and I’ll be ready on the 15th to give all of my breath to belting out Jingle Bells until my tongue leaves my mouth in protest.

In our house Yule doesn’t begin until December 15. Too much is going on early in the month and we never wanted anyone’s birthday to be overshadowed. We don’t like drawing out the holiday celebrations for an entire month, because we feel stretched thin, the gaiety slowing to a trickle. This way, we have the pleasure of building anticipation… hearing the odd snatch of a carol here and there… buying a tree and having it delivered a few days before… cleaning house. Making ready.

In reading John Matthews’ book The Winter Solstice, I’ve found ready inspiration for us to develop our own solstice traditions, in order to form a cohesive Yule celebration. We celebrate for 12 days, Matthews’ intercalary days, days out of time. Liminal time. We set up an altar. Invite Mother Holle to visit our nature table. Decorate our tree, make decorations out of salt dough, or origami paper, or fabric. This year I’m hoping to make a sun-star for the top of our tree to welcome the sun back, and maybe a tree skirt, perhaps with the beasts associated with the solstice, such as in this Yule song from the Middle Ages called “Jolly Old Hawk”:

Jolly old hawk and his wings were grey;
Now let us sing.
Who’s going to win the girl but me?
Jolly old hawk and his wings were grey
Sent to my love on the twelfth-most day.

Twelve old bears and they was a-roaring,
Eleven old mares and they was a-brawling,
Ten old cocks crawl out in the morning,
Nine old boars and they was a-quarreling.

Jolly old hawk and his wings were grey
Sent to my love on the twelfth most day.

Eight old bulls and they was a-blaring
Seven old calves and they ran before ’em
Six old cows and they was a-bellowing,
Five for fif and a fairy.

Jolly old hawk and his wings were grey
Sent to my love on the twelfth most day.

A four feeted pig and a three-fistle cock,
And two little birds and a jolly old hawk.

Jolly old hawk and his wings were grey;
Now let us sing.
Who’s going to win the girl but me?

–found in The Winter Solstice, and online here.

Pigs, roosters, mares, other birds of all kinds, appliqued on a circle skirt with twelve wedges… could be fun, I think.

I’ll gather materials together, and decide next week. After Yule begins.

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