Yule / Winter Solstice

Yuletide, Winter Solstice, Midwinter, Winter Rite, Festival of Sol Invictus/Mithras, Saturnalia (Roman), Cuidle, Alban Arthan, Gŵyl Galan Gaeaf, Meán Geimhridh (Welsh)
December 21, 2013 (Northern Hemisphere)
Quarter Festival, Solstice, Lesser Sabbat

The winter solstice, or Yule, marks the shortest day of the year.  From this point on, days continue to grow longer until Midsummer (Litha), therefore Yule celebrates the return of the sun, and light’s triumph over dark.  Yule is also thought of as the time when the Goddess gives birth to her son, the God of Light, and the Oak King defeats the Holly King in the battle of the seasons.

Other Yuletide festivals include Saturnalia (Roman), Mummurs Day (Celtic), Meán Geimhridh, Alban Arthan (Welsh), and Hogmanay (Scotland).  It is thought that Christmas takes its origins from these ancient pagan festivals.  Even the date of December 25 coincides with the festival days of the ancient Persian God Mithras and the Roman God Sol Invictus.

Yule is a time for celebrations, feasting, lighting bonfires and candles (to celebrate the return of the sun’s light), evergreens, wreaths, holly, mistletoe, Yule trees, Yule Logs, and cups of wassail for good cheer.  It is a good time to work on introspection, balance, peace, love and harmony.  Yule represents new beginnings, rebirth and renewal, and hope for the future.

A gorgeous wreath and a horseshoe for good luck - perfect. #yule

© A Year And A Day (2013)


February – Quickening Moon

Pagan: Quickening Moon, Snow Moon, Storm Moon, Ice Moon, Big Winter Moon, Horning Moon, Hunger Moon, Wild Moon
Native American / Farmers’ Almanac:  Snow Moon

In the Pacific Northwest, February’s Full Moon arrives on February 25 at 12:26 pm (PST).

Nature Spirits: house faeries, both of the home itself and of house plants
Herbs: balm of Gilead, hyssop, myrrh, sage, spikenard
Colors: light blue, violet
Flowers: primrose
Scents: wisteria, heliotrope
Stones: amethyst, jasper
Trees: rowan, laurel, cedar
Animals: otter, unicorn
Birds: eagle, chickadee
Deities: Brigid, Juno, Kuan Yin, Diana, Demeter, Persephone, Aphrodite

Energy: Purification, growth, healing, loving the self, accepting responsibility for past errors, forgiving yourself, and making future plans. This is a good time to focus your magick on home, hearth and family.

  • Since the heaviest snow usually falls during this month, some native tribes often called February’s full moon the Snow Moon.
  • The tribes that used Snow Moon for the January moon called this moon the Hunger Moon, as the food supply was often low and harsh winter conditions made hunting difficult this time of year.

Pagan’s Path
Angel Fire
Willow Grove Magick
Farmers’ Almanac

© A Year And A Day (2013)


Candlemas, Brigid’s Day, Brigantia (Caledonni), Lupercalia (Roman), Feast of Nut (Egyptian), Feast of Pan, Snowdrop Festival, Gŵyl Fair y Canhwyllau (Welsh), Disablot (Norse)

February 2

Imbolc is a festival of fire and light, and in many Neopagan traditions, celebrates the goddess Brigid.  It falls around the midpoint between the winter solstice and the spring equinox, and marks the successful passing of winter and the beginning of the agricultural spring. The light continues to grow stronger following the winter solstice, and the days grow warmer.

Anthony Meadows - Llewellyn - ImbolcB

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January – Cold Moon

Pagan: Cold Moon, Wolf Moon, Chaste Moon, Quiet Moon, Snow Moon, Ice Moon, Storm Moon
Native American / Farmers’ Almanac:  Wolf Moon, Hunger Moon, Snow Moon, Old Moon

In the Pacific Northwest, the first Full Moon of 2013 arrives on January 26th at 8:38pm (PST).

Nature Spirits: gnomes, brownies
Herbs: marjoram, holy thistle, nuts, cones
Colors: white, blue-violet, black
Flowers: snowdrop, crocus
Scents: musk, mimosa
Stones: garnet, onyx, jet, chrysoprase
Trees: birch
Animals: fox, coyote
Birds: pheasant, blue jay
Deities: Freyja, Inanna, Hera

Energy: Sluggish, beginning and conceiving, protection, good for reversing spells. Conserve energy by working on personal problems that involve no one else.  This is a good time for planning your year from a spiritual perspective. Set some goals and plan how to achieve them.

  • In cold and temperate climates of the Northern Hemisphere, it was difficult to find food during January.
  • This was the time when snow covered the earth and the howling of wolves could be heard echoing through the cold winter air.
  • Sometimes it was also referred to as the Moon After Yule.

Pagan’s Path
Angel Fire
Willow Grove Magick
Farmers’ Almanac

© A Year And A Day (2013)


‘Hogmanay’ is celebrated in Scotland on the last day of the year, with festivities often extending until the first or second day of the New Year.  Also known as Ne’erday (Netherday, New Year’s Day), Hogmanay is thought to be related to pagan celebrations such as the Winter Solstice and Yule.  The origin of the term ‘Hogmanay’ is debated, but the festival has been an integral part of Scotland for centuries.


Hogmanay took centre stage in Scotland after Christmas was banned by Protestant reformists in the 17th century for being ‘too Catholic’.  Even after laws were changed in the 1960s, Hogmanay remains an important Scottish celebration.

Local customs include ‘first-footing’ (trying to get your foot first in a doorway of friends/neighbours houses after midnight), ‘redding’ (spring cleaning), torchlight processions, fireball swinging, and singing Auld Lang Syne to harken in a good new year.

David Gifford

A variation on Hogmanay is ‘Up Helly Aa’, which is held in the remote Shetland Islands of Scotland around New Year’s Eve.  Celebrating their Norse background, local revellers hold great festivals of fire, where they dress up like Vikings and burn replica Viking longships.

Wiki – Hogmanay, Up Helly Aa

© A Year And A Day (2012)

December – Long Nights Moon

Pagan: Oak Moon, Long Nights Moon, Cold Moon, Wolf Moon
Native American / Farmers’ Almanac: Long Nights Moon, Cold Moon

In the Pacific Northwest, December’s Full Moon arrives on December 28 at 2:21 am (PST).

Nature Spirits: snow faeries, storm faeries, winter tree faeries
Herbs: holly, English ivy, fir, mistletoe
Colors: red, white and black
Flowers: holly, poinsettia, Christmas cactus
Scents: violet, patchouli, rose geranium, frankincense, myrrh, lilac
Stones: serpentine, jacinth, peridot
Trees: pine, fir, holly
Animals: mouse, deer, horse, bear
Birds: rook, robin, snowy owl
Deities: Hathor, Hecate, Neith, Athene, Minerva, Ixchel, Osiris, Norns, Fates, Cerridwyn

Energy: To endure, die, be reborn. Earth tides turning, darkness, personal alchemy, spiritual paths. Reach out to friends and family, the lonely and needy. A moon for turning your attention to home, especially ritual space.

  • During this month the winter cold begins to fastens its grip, and nights are at their longest and darkest.
  • The term Long Night Moon is a doubly appropriate name because the Midwinter night is indeed long, and because the moon is above the horizon for a long time.
  • It is also sometimes called the Moon before Yule.

Pagan’s Path
Angel Fire
Willow Grove Magick
Farmers’ Almanac

© A Year And A Day (2012)

Pagan Origins of Christmas

Christmas as we know it today has developed from a variety of origins, including pagan ones!  Things like the evergreen tree, mistletoe, gift giving, and even the birth date of Jesus have come from pagan sources.

The Winter Solstice is celebrated around December 20-23 (northern hemisphere), the shortest day of the year.  Yule celebrates the return of the light as it is the point from which the days grow longer until the Summer Solstice (Midsummer/Litha).


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