As the holiday season is upon us, I thought I would share how Clio, heroine of SORCERESS RISING, would observe traditional celebrations this time of year. On the Wiccan calendar, this season is known as Yule. It is also called the Winter Solstice and is one of the eight Sabbats, or major Sabbaths, of Wicca.
Because Yule is associated with a period of great darkness, primarily due to it being the shortest day of the year, the celebration is frequently begun just before dawn, with sunrise marking the end of the actual ceremony. There is often talk of a Yule log at this time of year. This is primarily a custom of Germanic Wiccans, and, as a result, not something Clio would observe. However, as a true Wiccan being both tolerant and accepting of other religious beliefs, she would certainly participate in the use of one, were it available. Many Wiccans also include a Yule tree (sound familiar?) in their celebrations.
The Wiccan Yule is also reflective e of new birth, for it was at Yule that the Goddess gave birth to a son, the God. It is interesting to see the parallels of this holiday with the Christian holiday of Christmas and the birth of Christ. Christianity, in fact, adopted the holiday of Yule some 300 years after the birth of Christ as their faith expanded into regions with large Pagan, Druid and Wiccan populations.
Wiccans consider the birth of the God as the rebirth of the sun. As a result, they use candles and fire to welcome the return of the sun. Remember, it is after the Winter Solstice that our daylight begins to get longer. Interestingly a simple synopsis of the holiday of Yule is that to Wiccans, it is an affirmation of return or resurrection from the dead.
During this holiday Clio, like most Wiccans, would participate in many feasts to celebrate this rebirth. During these feasts, a good deal of drinking is done. A very common drink is wassail, a hot mulled cider, which lends itself to the toast “All Hail” and the response “Wassail.” Wiccans enjoy food like any other group and a great many Yule recipes exist to help make this festival a wonderful event.
Wassail is usually an alcoholic drink. The following recipe is non-alcoholic and you can always add, if you wish, your own spirits. I generally add a good brandy, to taste. This is a very simple recipe and while more traditional recipes include raw eggs, whole apples and, of course, alcohol, this recipe works well for multi-age groups. It is easily doubled, too.
Simple Non-Alcoholic Wassail
6 cups of apple juice
4 1/2 cups of orange juice
1 cup of lemon juice
¾ cup of sugar
2-3 cinnamon sticks
1 TBS whole cloves
Put all of these ingredients in a large saucepan and bring to a boil. Cover and reduce to a simmer for around 20 – 30 minutes. Uncover and simmer for another 20-30 minutes. Strain out cinnamon sticks and cloves. Serve this hot.
Yuletide greetings to you and yours!