Yule symbols represent the Yuletide celebration. The words “Yule” and “Christmas” are often used interchangeably in modern-day times, but there was a time when they were separate holidays.

Yule Symbols

What is the Meaning of Yule?

Yule is a celebration that began with Pagan Germanic and Celtic people. The word “yule” comes from the Old English word geol or the Norse word jol. They both refer to the Winter Solstice, which is the date that Yule takes place.

The 12 Days of Christmas originates with Yule, as the celebration sometimes lasts 12 days. The festivity is for the sun coming back again after the longest night of the year.

The traditions of Yule became popular in the 5th and 10th centuries. During this time, German, Celtic, and Norse people celebrated the season with festivals, feasts, and gifts.

15 Yule Symbols To Celebrate

1. Yule Log

The Yule Log is meant to protect the home. It burns for 12 days in the hearth during Yule. The tradition of bringing in the log is similar to the tradition of cutting down a Christmas tree together.

2. Caroling

Caroling is a modern tradition that began with the Celts. People would spread cheer and prosperity by going door to door singing. The houses they visited would grant them small gifts as thanks.

3. Gingerbread

Since Ancient Greece, gingerbread has been a Yule tradition. One could only make the bread during Yule, partly because ginger was a rare delicacy saved for special occasions.

4. Crystals

From ruby to black obsidian, crystals are a signature of ancient Yule celebrations. Each crystal offers a different benefit to Yule rituals.

5. Green Man

Green Man is a motif used during Yule. The Yule symbol represents the cycle of life and death and celebrates the return of the sun.

6. Saturn

The celebration of Saturnalia often intertwines with Yule for Ancient Romans. They celebrate the god Saturn who brings good fortune and harvest.

7. Winter Solstice

The Winter Solstice and Yule coincide. Winter Solstice is the shortest day and longest night of the year. Yule is a rebirth associated with the Winter Solstice. It is the celebration of the sun rising again.

8. Bells

Pagan Germans used bells to scare away evil spirits. They brought them out during the Winter Solstice to chase away the darkness and ensure the light returned at sunrise.

9. Wreath

Wreaths represent the wheel of the 12-month year. In German Yule celebrations, the wreaths were often made with evergreen branches and decorated with berries and pinecones to be given as gifts.

10. Elves

Elves have symbolized Yule for thousands of years. They were seen as beings that the sun gods sent to earth. According to Norse culture, the elves wake up the sun every year during the darkest days.

11. Sunrise

Sunrise is a celebration during the Winter Solstice and Yule. Rituals were performed in many cultures, such as the Norse. It was a way to honor nature and the natural cycle of seasons throughout the year.

12. Candle

Candles became popular during the Middle Ages during Yule. They also chased away demons and brought the sun indoors.

13. Holly King

Holly King was one of the first symbols that resembled Santa Claus. But it was a pagan being who symbolizes the battle between light and dark and the suspense over who might win during the Winter Solstice.

14. Wassail

Wassail is an Old Engish word that means “be well.”  Typically made of apples, oranges, and spices, Wassail is the alcohol to celebrate Yule.

15. Wine

Wine is a common Yule drink all over the world. The English popularized it with the addition of cinnamon, citrus, and more to create mulled wine.

Plants That Symbolize Yule

  • Holly – the number one plant of Yule – representative of masculinity and the Holly King that wards off evil during Yule
  • Mistletoe – a Druidic plant that began the tradition of kissing loved ones during the holidays for good luck and fertility
  • Pine – one of the primary trees chosen for yule celebrations due to its healthy winter life
  • Cedar – similar to the pine tree but chosen in areas with fewer pines

Animal Yule Symbols

  • Reindeer – represents Odin’s Yule hunting party and Beavvi’s sled made of antlers.
  • Boar –  the animal of Germanic Yule with sacred bristles
  • Goat a playful animal used in celebrations for pranks and games

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