Yule decorations

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Yule decorations

Postby MPoppins » Tue Nov 18, 2008 7:21 am

I am determined this year to decorate the flat in the most traditional way possible, no tinsel or coloured lights. I have done some research and just wondered if anyone has any experience of decorating in this way and therefore has some tips?

I'm sure a lot of you know these things already but for those who don't this may be interesting. St Nicholas comes from Nick, another name for Woden, a Holly King figure. Therefore no Father Christmas for me but instead the traditional image of Woden or the Green man on the back of a white horse. (The book also mentions the interesting correlation of this and Old Nick, the Chrsitian name for the Devil).

Of course the solstice is the celebration of the death of the Holly King and the rebirth of the Oak King. The idea that decorations are unlucky after a certain amount of time probably comes from the idea that Holly representations of the waning year were considered unlucky after the solstice. Instead there should be representations of the waxing year eg the Robin. The Wren would have been a symbol of the waning year and so images of the Wren and Robin fighting and the Robin winning would be relevant. There was a popular superstition that a woodlouse escaping the Yule log would be Robin escaping on his steed and Robin would have disappeared up the chimney. - was this the original Robin Hood?

The Yule log was the Sabbat fire brought inside and would have been made from Oak. I am also going to use Yew on the 22nd to represent the death of the Goddess, the silver fir on the 23rd to represent the rebirth of the Goddess and on the 24th the Birch which is the "tree of inception".

Yule "comes from the Norse Iul, meaning wheel" marking the death and rebirth of the sun God. Circular wreathes are then an obvious choice.

So as well as Yule logs, wreathes, Holly, Fir, Birch, Wrens and Robins and the Green man are there any other thoughts? has anyone ever made a traditional Yule log? or a wreath? Any tips on the best way to go about things? So far I have a collection of oak leaves and pine cones too. Ooh any thoughts about food as well?

My info all comes from "The Witches Bible" by Janet and Stewart Farrar
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Postby Daffodil » Tue Nov 18, 2008 8:17 am

Wow, that is great that you are choosing to decorate this way. I don't follow any particular customs like you mentioned, but I do insist on making most of our decorations out of twigs, cones, leaves and anything we might find while out and about.

For me it is mainly about getting the kids involved with making things and not filling my house full of tacky plastic.

I am sure other people on the forum will know of more traditional ways to do it. I am looking forward to reading more of them.

Good thread :)
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Postby kit » Tue Nov 18, 2008 9:28 am

I know Greymalkin and others had some wonderful tips and "recipes" for natural decorations. I think they may have been posted on the Stonewylde Gathering thread but can't really remember - it could have been somewhere else (one of the problems when we all start wandering off topic of course!). I'm sure he also talked about Yule logs too. Can anyone remember where these are? :roll:
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Postby sea sprite » Tue Nov 18, 2008 11:08 am

Here's the link, Kit:

http://stonewyldeforum.com/forum/viewtopic.php?t=476 :D

That's all really interesting, MPoppins :D

Like Daffodil, I'm planning on making decorations out of natural materials (I'll be trying out Greymalkin's dried orange slices!) I expect we will still have lights and things though too :lol:
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Postby Sorcha » Tue Nov 18, 2008 11:18 am

I always re-use decorations. Some of them are very old, they were of Wouter's parents and my grandparents and some even from their parents. Every decoration has a story attached to it! No plastic, but wood, glass and thin metal. And tartan ribbons! Next to that I also have things we made and somehow these things all fit together! Sometimes I hear at work people talking about which colours they will have the tree this year! They buy a totally new tree decoration set every year :roll: :roll: :roll: :roll: Unbelievable!!
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Postby Daffodil » Tue Nov 18, 2008 11:21 am

I did the dried orange slices after they were mentioned last time and they look lovely. I haven't done anything with them yet, but I was thinking of threading them on thin wire and using as an alternative to tinsel. They also made my house smell so sweet for days. Better than dog smell, which I find really hard to get rid of at this time of year.
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Postby Beantighe » Tue Nov 18, 2008 11:43 am

Another lovely, useful and very inspiring thread!

Just to add, there's a pub in Dorset (the name escapes me, Kit might know) where it's traditional to burn the ashen faggot every Yule. This is a faggot of ash sticks (not so large as logs, but much larger than twigs) bound (I think) with hazel withies. It's set alight in the fireplace at Yule, and every time one of the hazel bonds is burned through, someone has to buy a round of drinks! :D I bet they make sure that as many hazel bonds as possible are tied round it! :lol:

I've sometimes done a similar thing to the orange slices, but with a whole orange. I stud it with cloves in a pattern, then tie it up with a red ribbon and hang it up until it's dry. This makes a lovely pomander, and afterwards you can hang it up in your wardrobe or airing cupboard to make your clothes and linens smell nice and keep any moths away.
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Postby MPoppins » Tue Nov 18, 2008 11:47 am

Brilliant, thanks for the link. I love the idea of the oranges and cinnamon. I've often made pomanders from oranges and cloves as a present at Yule. I wonder if there is a history of why oranges are popular?

Mulled wine will certainly have to be done. My partner's brother brews his own mead which is a bit special. We have had a go at some ale, maybe we'll have to get organised and brew our own mead for next year.

Anyone got tips on wreaths or yule logs?
Dance as though no-one is watching,
Love as though you've never been hurt,
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Postby Beantighe » Tue Nov 18, 2008 11:48 am

Another thing you could do (especially if you've got children) is to make shortbread cookies in the shape of stars and moons, for example). Make sure to make a hole in them before you bake them, and then hang them on the tree. You could also wrap them in kitchen foil if they're going to be there for any length of time. Although on second thoughts, perhaps it might be better to hang them up on Yule eve, or they'll get eaten too soon! :wink:
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Postby MPoppins » Tue Nov 18, 2008 11:51 am

We haven't got children yet but I reckon we'd enjoy shortbread. That's great, maybe I'll dip them in chocolate too yum yum :wink:
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Postby Beantighe » Tue Nov 18, 2008 12:00 pm

One thing I know about Yule logs, is that a piece should be saved every year to kindle the following year's.

How about making a Yule log table decoration? That's something we always did when I was a child, and it made a lovely table centrepiece, decorated with holly and fir cones, some glitter and some red candles.

Also use fir cones to hang on the tree. They could look lovely with white paint or glitter to represent snow.

By the way, has anybody wondered why we always associate snow with Yule, but hardly ever have any that early? (at least we don't down South) It all goes back to the calendar change of 1752, when England switched from the Julian to the Gregorian calendar. The Julian was inaccurate, and so over time it became about 11 days out with the rest of Europe, which had changed over some years earlier. (So nothing new there, then!) The Gregorian calendar was introduced in England around the 2nd September 1752, and the next day was the 13th! People at the time were outraged, because they thought they'd been robbed of 11 days of their lives! This calendar change meant that all the festivals were now 2 weeks earlier than they had been, which explains why we are more likely to get snow in January rather than December.

And to think we feel out of kilter when the clocks get altered by just one hour! :D
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Postby MPoppins » Tue Nov 18, 2008 1:16 pm

Does that mean that the 22nd is not actually the shortest day of the year?
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Postby Daffodil » Tue Nov 18, 2008 4:20 pm

MPoppins wrote:
Anyone got tips on wreaths or yule logs?


I think we are doing wreaths at my floristry class in a couple of weeks. I will post some info and pics once I have done it.
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Postby Greymalkin » Tue Nov 18, 2008 4:48 pm

MPoppins wrote: I wonder if there is a history of why oranges are popular?


Back in days of old 'Scurvy' was sometimes known as 'Spring's Disease' because many people had gone through the Winter without much fruit.

Scurvy is caused by lack of Vitamin C so oranges played an important part in Yule celebrations and it's why kids had them put in their christmas stockings, to help prevent Scurvy.
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Postby Sujee » Tue Nov 18, 2008 7:08 pm

Ooh, this is a lovely thread - thanks GM! Your ideas sound wonderful and I hope they come to fruition.

I collect holly and ivy from the locality - but never take too much. Ususally off a telegraph pole is good as the electric company will only chop it back in the spring.

I will try the orange slices and a pomander.

I have a real tree every year from a renewable source and then it is graunched in January to make mulch for charity. I use felt decorations and also glass baubles and icicles. I collect a hand painted bauble each year from The Pier which is my only concession to new decorations! I do not use tinsel any more, not since Claire was small really.

I have used brown paper to wrap gifts and I use a seasonal stamp to decorate and use parcel tags for tags instead of printed ones. I used to make small Christmas Puds for gifts each year which were yummy but I have left it too late this year... :oops:

Will start getting excited now!! :lol:
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