Monday, November 26, 2012

Our Favorite Holiday


 Here in Ungerland, we start thinking about Yuletide weeks before the season arrives.  We plan our special menus and the various ways that we want to celebrate.  For us, Yule is the most important holiday of the year, and at the heart of Yule, is the Winter Solstice. 

The Winter Solstice is the longest night of the year and can fall on the 20th, 21st, or the 22nd of December, depending on the predilections of the Gregorian calendar cycle.  Like many moderns, my wife and I peg Yule to run from 12/20 to 12/31, with Mother’s Night, or Modraniht held the evening before the solstice.  In many ways, Modraniht introduces Yuletide. 

On this special night, we honor our Germanic Matrons, all mothers, grandmothers, our female ancestors, and the goddesses.  We fondly remember them with our words, and as we eat some of their special desserts that we humbly try to replicate.  And of course while doing this, we lift a mug or two of beer in their honor.  Modraniht cannot pass without remembrance of how these mothers protected and taught us many valuable things in our youth that we use today. 

As was previously written, Winter Solstice is at the heart of Yule.  As this Longest Night passes, it represents the re-birth of the Sun in the heavens, the beginning of new life, and the hopes of a prosperous new year.  It is on this night that we burn the Yule Log, with all its symbolism, and start it with a piece of the previous year’s log (if an actual log is not possible, green candles will do).  This night is great to begin laying out your plans for the new year, looking back on past plans to see what went wrong or what worked well, the swearing of oaths and renewing old ones, if desired.  In our home, we also honor the gods and our ancestors with our heartfelt thanks and offerings of food and drink.  For us Winter Solstice is the most important of the Tide. 

Our feast starts with a variety of nuts, especially walnuts and hazelnuts, accompanied with a tray of fresh scallions.  We have a nice piece of boneless, center cut pork, heavily seasoned and covered with bacon, then roasted to perfection.  Along with the pork we cut up red potatoes, carrots, and turnips, toss them in an oil and herb bath and roast them with the pork.  I am not done.  We pan fry bratwurst until its golden brown and toss in with some wine kraut.  Dessert is usually baked apples stuffed with raisins and covered in a heavy crème and whiskey sauce.  Are you hungry yet? This is just the start of the holiday. 

There are many days left in Yuletide and to think that the holiday is over with the passing of the solstice does not pay the proper respect that this holiday deserves (remember, Yule was happening long before Christmas was even a gleam or a glimmer).  It is wise to continue your introspection of the passing year and to meditate on the Havamal, and the Voluspa.  It’s a great idea to improve on your plans for the new year.  And by all means, gather with friends of like mind and celebrate life. 

Author's Note:  I will not debate the history of Yule, the Feast of Saturnalia, or the Feast of Sol Invictus.  Scholarship has proven that these festivals existed long before Christmas.  

                                               Copyright @2012/2016 Terry Unger       

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