Dorothy Morrison,
Yule: A Celebration
of Light and Warmth

(Llewellyn, 2000)

Yule is a book for those who love the holiday season in any form. Filled with history and lore of the season, this book truly is a "celebration of light and warmth," as the subtitle so aptly states. Though the primary audience focus is for those who follow Earth-centered religions, it has plenty of information for anyone interested in holiday traditions.

Part one is titled "Yule and Its Place in Our Hearts," and the chapters are chock full of data on the history, traditions and mythology surrounding the holiday. A brief first chapter describes the history of the season from its beginnings in ancient Egypt. Chapter two discusses the symbols and traditions that surround the holiday, including the heritage of mistletoe and holly, and the origins of the candy cane. The specific major religious festivals are considered next, those being Christmas, Hanukkah, Kwanzaa and, of course, the Winter Solstice, the original Yule.

Next, Morrison explains holiday customs from various countries, including Denmark, Pakistan and Venezuela. Omens and superstitions surround the season, especially about gifts, food and weather, among others, and are fascinating reading. She finishes the section with some enjoyable trivia and interesting facts about the celebration.

Preparations make up a large part of this season, and an entire section is devoted to the work done before the holiday. Before one can decorate, one cleans, and Morrison includes a personal cleaning ritual as well as hints and charms for success. Directions for easy and entertaining decorations for the house, tree and cards are all here, along with crafts to get the children involved in the decorating.

Part three is titled "Gifting, Feasting and Festing," and has crafty ideas for homemade gifts for everyone, including the family pets! Also included are party decorations and ideas, and many recipes from all over the globe. The recipes range from (of course) desserts to something for breakfast to dinner and snacks -- enough to feed visiting relatives.

The final section is titled "Creating Personal Traditions," and includes the author's own family traditions as examples. She also includes a calendar of special days for the entire month of December. It seems as if every day has some sort of celebration associated with it! This section includes a Yule ritual for the pagan readers looking for inspiration. Her final chapters offer tips on staying happy through the holidays and not letting the holiday blues get through, and also what to do after the holidays are over. Most of her suggestions either involve the entire family or are easy to modify to work with children.

Her appendices contain names of goddesses and gods associated with Yule, greetings in different languages and holiday-related websites for further information. I enjoyed reading this book, and it gave me many ideas for celebrating with friends and family. As they say in France -- Joyeux Noel!

[ by Beth Derochea ]



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