Yule is part of a heathens life. It is one of the most important holidays that we have. It honors our dead in the fact that we believe that Odin takes part in what is known as the Wild Hunt, basically, he rides across the sky with a bunch of goddesses, one of whom is dead, “The hunt was said to pass through the forests in the coldest, stormiest time of the year. Anyone found outdoors at the time would be swept up into the hunting party involuntarily and dropped miles from their original location.” Many of us have modernized this practice to see it as more than they pick up the wandering dead and perhaps those ancestors that may have just passed. Each family celebrates Yule very differently, so I can only speak for what I do on my own. For me, Yule begins with Mother’s Night. December 20th.
We make this very special bread. It’s just a normal bread recipe but you cut your dough into thirds and braid the dough into a ring, you then lay onto the dough a few whole pieces of coarse salt, I say this represents a reminder of things we have lost, a connection to the bitter things in life. We bake the bread and serve it next to very dark chocolate and either Honeycrisp or dark apple cider. A plate is brought forward. We place in front of the plate photos of each of our mothers present and past, we hand out pennies to each of the members of the family. We hand the bread around and say, “This bread is made by the hands of the mother of this household, to feed the family to which they care for, it represents the wheat and grain grown and provided, it represents the food that is provided by our table, by the hands of the farmers that grow it, but the laborers that pick it, it is the source of sustenance and holds us fast together” we each rip a piece off and place a piece on the plate and eat some bread.
You will need along with the bread, and you can use a good strong store-bought loaf if you wish, you do not have to make your own, but if you do, it is very easy to do so, and you can choose to just bake it off or braid it and bake it.
- Honeycrisp or Regular Cider
- Dark Chocolate (Can substitute for any chocolate that you like)
- 3 pennies per person
- A plate
We then take the cider, and pass some around in our cups, and say, “This drink represents the apples of the goddess Idunna, to whom keeps the gods young, may it serve to likewise keep your youthful spirit and delight your days” we pour a little on the plate with the bread and then drink some. We then take a piece of salt, and say, “This is to remind you of the bitterness of life, that there are those that are not at our table this year, and those we are missing greatly, we eat this salt to remind us of how much we miss them” You eat the salt and have a bit of juice to wash it down because it is salty! We then take the cider, and pass some around in our cups, and say, “This drink represents the apples of the goddess Idunna, to whom keeps the gods young, may it serve to likewise keep your youthful spirit and delight your days” we pour a little on the plate with the bread and then drink some. We then take some of the dark chocolate and say: “This is to remind you that there are sweet things in life, that nothing stays bitter for long, and that there are good things to look forward to”. We take a piece of each on the plate and eat some
Take the pennies and hand them around, then say:
“Take the penny, and make a wish, from the mothers of the past”
Take the second penny, pass it, and say:
“Make a wish for the mother of your present”
Take the third penny, pass it, and say:
“Make a wish for the mothers of the future, that you wish for them to be”
Place all pennies on the plate with the food, the offering plate with the food and pennies should then be taken outside to a tree and place there for three nights, on the third night come out and dump the plate, pick up the pennies, and bury them in the earth near the tree, the bread will likely be taken to the gods by little birds and squirrels with gratitude. Mothers Night is an important pivotal point for me because it honors women. I think we sometimes overlook the importance of our female line, but it’s important to do. Mothers Night is a kind of second Mother’s Day in a way, but this time, we get to tell stories of the past, to honor the legacy of the women that made us. For me, it’s a sad time, because I lost my mother, and my ‘extra mother’, we also honor my husband’s grandmothers and great aunt who passed for in these things we are connected. Loss is something that touches us all, and losing a mother is a sting that leaves a scar. It is a time to remember them, and I think this wraps back to what we have been talking about when we discuss the importance of storytelling. To relate the stories of our past, to share those with our present is a true remembrance. As has been noted we are losing the traditions because we are so scared of losing our grandmothers and mothers we are afraid to ask how do you make that, tell me about grandfather, tell me about you, and to know them…perhaps if we do, if we see inside the hidden kiss that they hid in that corner of their lip, we like Wendy rub away a piece of us that still clings to this idolized they are indestructible thought that is something we hold fast to as children. Mothers Night reminds us that our time is short, and we must honor the time we have, by paying memory to them, by telling our stories, but not holding back, so that our children can sit in front of the plate, where our picture someday will rest, and on that night, the words of our lives will ring out, and we shall live on in them.