The name “Yule” actually comes from the pre-Christian festivities of Germanic tribes, and is believed to have been handed down to us from the ancient Norse in particular.
The Goddess, who has been in her Crone aspect these past few months, is now once again in her Mother aspect, having just given birth to the God. She represents the Earth, remaining still and silent for awhile yet as she rests from her labor.
This is a celebration of the renewal of life, but compared to other Sabbats it is a relatively quiet, indoor holiday, as people gather within the warm shelters of their homes to be merry and give thanks. As a Yule ritual, many Wiccans decorate their altars with evergreen branches, such as cedar, pine, hemlock and spruce, as well as bright sprigs of holly, pinecones, and other festive winter flora.
In Norse tradition, the god Odin would wander the earth during Yuletide and visit people’s homes. He was described in some of these myths as being an old man with a long white beard. This would be the same depiction that Father Christmas would acquire during the 15th century. Father Christmas would then become known by a variety of other names including Saint Nicholas, St. Nick, Santa Claus, and Kris Kringle.
Another custom that comes from Yule is children leaving out sweets for some mythical creature. The only difference is who it was left out for. For Viking children, sugar and hay would be left out for Odin’s 8-legged horse Sleipnir, and for Christian children, cookies would be left out for Santa Claus.
Enjoy this time of year no matter what religion you follow. Regardless of the name it's a time for giving and loving and being with the ones we love. Eat lots, love lots, cuddle lots and enjoy.
In most traditions, Yule is the Sabbat that begins the Wiccan Year. This is the Winter Solstice—the shortest day and longest night we will experience in the Northern Hemisphere.
Special thanks to Wicca Living and Holidayscalendar.com