ADF Dedicant Path: Fourth High Day Essay (Winter Solstice)

The Winter Solstice, most commonly known as Yule among Neopagans, marks the shortest day and longest night of the year. Symbolically, this is when the Sun is reborn and hope is returned to the world.

Although ADF recognizes the Winter Solstice as a single High Day, Germanic Neopagans usually celebrate it over the course of twelve days, beginning on Mother’s Night and ending on or around New Year’s eve. Mother’s Night, or Mōdraniht (night of the mothers), is supposed to take place the night before the solstice, but many Neopagans, myself included, choose to celebrate it on December 20th every year so that the 12 nights of Yule line up with the end of the modern new year.

The particulars of the original Anglo-Saxon Mōdraniht and Yule rituals are unknown. According to Swain Wodening, the only explicit mention of Mōdraniht comes from Bede and the exact length of the Anglo-Saxon yuletide holidays is unknown (“Path to the Gods” 89, 96). What we do know is that Yule heralds the start of the Anglo-Saxon year.

Modern Yuletide customs are adapted from what evidence we have of ancient rites performed during this time of year. Such customs involve honoring the Disir (on Mother’s night), decorating an outdoor Yule tree for the nature spirits, and burning a Yule log.

Works Cited
Wodening, Swain. Path to the Gods: Anglo-Saxon Paganism for Beginners. Huntsville, MO: Wednesbury Shire, 2012. Print.
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Posted on January 2, 2016, in ADF Dedicant Path and tagged , , , , , , , , , . Bookmark the permalink. 2 Comments.

  1. For Anglo-Saxon references pertaining to Mother’s Night Bede is it, but there’s some clues as to what type of activities may have been part of the celebration if you look at the broader Northern Tradition umbrella. 🙂

    If your curious, I touched on some of the other items here: http://bit.ly/1PFA5GU

    🙂

    Like

    • I sorta tried to sum that up in the “what evidence we do have” section, though I realize it’s kinda vague. I try to keep these essays short per the ADF word limits so I don’t have to edit them too much before submitting, but I could probably be more clear about the Winter Nights connection. :p

      Liked by 1 person

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