‘Tis the Season — once again! This time of year is one of my favorites and in our country, America, the tradition of celebrating Christmas and the birth of Jesus Christ with family and friends is still with us.
In the land of my ancestors, Scotland, this celebration has roots that go back to the Celts. The early Druids, the priestly class in ancient Celtic society, celebrated the festival of Alban Arthuan (the Arthur of legend), which was commonly known as Yule. This celebration occurred at the time of the Winter Solstice, when the sun is at its lowest point above the horizon, between December 20 and December 23.
On this day, the Druids would gather mistletoe from oak trees. It was their belief mistletoe had magical and health-giving properties. They would also burn the Yule Log as a way to counteract the darkness of mid-winter when they thought the sun stood still for twelve days. It was also believed to bring good luck.
The Yule Log was originally an entire tree that would be brought into their homes with a great deal of ceremony. The largest end of the log would be placed into the fire and the rest of the tree just stuck out into the room. The fire would have been started from the remains of the Yule Log from the previous year. Traditionally, the log would last through the Twelve Days of Christmas.
Holly, ivy and evergreens, which were treated with reverence, were used throughout their homes, often at doorways and windows. This was to keep evil spirits away. And in an effort to appease their Celtic gods and goddesses, they hung symbols of solar objects on trees close to their homes, or even out in the forest.
All sound familiar? But when you are standing under the mistletoe waiting for that special kiss, remember that it will be a magical kiss and keep you both healthy — unless one of you has a cold!
I hope your holidays will be filled with peace, love and joy, and that you spend them with those who are special to you.
And may God bless us, each and every one!