the wassail

Yule, it's that time of year

Yule falls this year on December 21st. This is the official beginning to the celebration which should last as long as you can manage (typically 12 days). Out of ease on my family we’re celebrating the twelve days before and culminating at Yule.

So, what can we do for Yule?
- give small presents on each of the twelve days
- drink cider, wine, or mead and go wassailing
- throw a party for your friends on the 21st and introduce them to Yule
- offer in a ritual
- have a bonfire shaped like a goat
- have a Yule log or a tree for inside
- enjoy your friends and family
- sing, be merry, eat, offer, pray, fill your day and night with joy

If you have kids, leave boots filled with hay outside for Woden to feed his steed and fill them up afterwards with doodads. This is an old equivalent to stockings but more pagan. It’s also a wonderful time for story telling about the gods and goddesses, your children should hear stories about them.

In all honesty, Yule is so intermingled with the western idea of Christmas that if you celebrate Yule it will be very similar to anyone you might invite over. Yule was appropriated by Christianity ages ago and they do a pretty good job of celebrating it. This means it’s obvious how to celebrate for the most part.

One thing of note worth elaborating on though: the night of the 20th is Mother’s Night (Modraniht). This night is sacred and should be devoted to the honoring of your female ancestors and motherly goddesses. I will be honoring my mother, grandmother, and great-grandmother as well as Eorthe and Frige that night. I will bake bread and leave a large and very safe candle burning on an altar through the night. As much time as I can devote to it will be spent in reflection and prayer that night. I will also be weaving some that night to link into that whole magickal process and activity. The Norns would be of great importance in the night’s feeling and thoughts so spinning and weaving will get you right in the feeling. It is a subdued night, not boisterous like Yule, but instead reverent and contemplative.

The ritual I am preparing for each of these nights will be forthcoming.

As a side note, what better time of year than this is there to give others a better image of us as heathens? Heathenry has an image problem that will only be solved by awareness. So invite people to your Yule party, go all out and wow them with the true spirit of the season.


Randomly getting this song stuck in my head is the best Christmas present of all

My dear Papa & dear Mamma

I take this opportunity of writing to you to inform you that I shall go on board the Sabrina the first opportunity that offers itself Mamma, I assure you that I did not not forget the Promise that I made for I eat some Christmas Pye and Drunk all your healths and wished you all a long, happy and merry life this letter besides Contains my best love and a kiss to all well fare you all well a thousand times and good bye

I remain

Your very dutiful Son

George James Perceval

The effect of wassail upon an impressionable midshipman is here graphically portrayed in this letter from twelve-year-old George James Perceval (later Admiral) to his parents, dated Christmas, 1806. I’m sure Mr Perceval’s mama could not fail to discern that the young gentleman had indeed drunk his family’s health - possibly quite a few times! (My personal favourite is that spectacularly half-arsed “Merry Christmas” at the bottom that only just manages to keep on the page. ;) )

I sing of Brooks, of Blossomes, Birds, and Bowers:
Of April, May, of June, and July-Flowers.
I sing of May-poles, Hock-carts, Wassails, Wakes,
of Bride-grooms, Brides, and of their Bridall-cakes.
I write of Youth, of Love, and have Accesse
By these, to sing of cleanly-Wantonnesse.
I sing of Dewes, of Raines, and piece by piece
Of Balme, of Oyle, of Spice, and Amber-Greece.
I sing of Times trans-shifting; and I write
How Roses first came Red, and Lillies White.
I write of Groves, of Twilights, and I sing
The Court of Mab, and of the Fairie-King.
I write of Hell; I sing (and ever shall)
Of Heaven, and hope to have it after all.
—  Robert Herrick, “The Argument of his Book,” from Hesperides (1648)
Ten Things The Pagans Gave Christmas

Christianity has a long history of assimilating aspects of other faiths and cultures. Here are ten traditions closely associated with Christmas, but which date from ancient pre-Christian beliefs from all over Europe…

1. The twelve days of Christmas. The twelve-day solstice festival of Yule celebrated the rebirth of the Sun, and coincides with the twelve days of Christmas.

2: Chocolate logs: These are the descendants of the Yule log, which was brought into the house at the start of Yule, and burnt in the hearth as part of the festivities.

3: The Christmas tree: The evergreen fir was seen as a symbol of life throughout Europe. Its branches were often used to decorate homes during Yuletide, and the trees were used by the Romans during the winter feast of Saturnalia.

4: Kissing under the mistletoe: Part of an ancient Druidic tradition linking the mistletoe plant to fertility and rebirth.

5: Christmas carolling: The tradition of wassailing - singing and drinking outdoors at Yule, especially in orchards, to ensure a good harvest in spring.

6: Santa’s gifts: From the Icelandic Yule Boys, or Jólasveinarnir; a pair of tricksters who traditionally left gifts in the shoes of children (some naughty, some nice) at Yuletide.

7: Christmas holly. Bringing holly into the house in the form of wreaths and decorations is an ancient tradition, based on the yearly conflict between the Oak King and the Holly King (Summer and Winter)

8: Santa’s sleigh: This is associated with the Wild Hunt, a supernatural procession during which the god Odin rode (in his Hunter Aspect) across the sky.

9: The Virgin birth: Many, many world religions have this tradition, but both the Egyptian god Horus and the solar god Mithra (also found as “Mitra” in the Indian Vedic religion, which is over 3,500 years old), were widely believed to have been born of virgin mothers - and both of them on December 25th.

10: Fairy lights and Christmas candles: A lingering reminder of the solstice as a festival of light and fire.

Sartorial Elegance

Fifteen minute festive fluff in honour of National Christmas Jumper day here in the UK. I don’t own the charcters but I do own the sweaters.

Also on

“Swan, no.”

“Swan, yes.

Killian was eyeing the bundle of fabric with an expression better suited to a man being offered Granny’s mystery lunchmeat special, or maybe one of Neal’s dirty diapers. Emma thrust it closer towards him and it jingled gently. Killian’s eyebrow, already high, made a break for his hairline.

“Come on,” she wheedled, “it’s traditional!”

“Traditional like the dwarves absconding with the Queen’s apple tree was traditional? Because I seem to recall you had a few choice words for such traditions then yourself, Swan.”

Emma winced. Not having Christmas as such in their own land, the Storybrooke residents had latched on to whatever aspects of a land-without-magic festive season most appealed to them. This had led to the dwarves discovering Wassailing, which had in turn led to Regina’s prize apple tree being dug up, strung with toast, and held hostage until Regina had come barrelling into the Sheriff’s station demanding a recipe for ‘figgy pudding’. Emma had spent very little time carousing and several hours on paperwork that night.

“Please? For me?” She wasn’t above batting her eyelashes.

Killian huffed and rolled his eyes skyward, and she knew she had him.

“Give up Killian, she’s going to win. She always does,” Henry groused, coming down the stairs with his hands thrust deeply in his pockets and an enormous woollen Santa Claus emblazoned on his chest.

“Hey!” cried Emma in semi-mock offence, “You loved your sweaters in New York!”

“Those memories were fake, mom. This… this is very real. As was my dignity, which I will never see again.”

“Come , lad,” Killian looked from Emma’s pout to Henry’s heinous sweater, clearly torn between cheering up his love and acknowledging the truth of Henry’s statement, “it’s not so bad.”

Henry quirked his own eyebrow in reply, before poking himself solidly in the stomach.

“HO, HO, HO,” said the sweater.

“Ho, ho, ho,” echoed Henry morosely.

Killian span back to face Emma, “My love, that’s cruelty.”

“That’s Christmas,” Emma countered, “now take your ugly sweater and suffer with the rest of us.”

He took it from her and allowed it to unfurl. From the back it was a sensible forest green knit, if a little conservative for Killian’s taste, but the front was decorated with a foot high stylized pine tree, complete with tiny bells and baubles stitched in place of decorations. He opened his mouth, but seemed at a loss for words.

“I think yours is actually worse!” crowed Henry, with rather more relief than sympathy.

Emma beamed.

“It’s perfect, put it on!”

“I would rather die. Again.”

“That’s a low blow and you know it,” Emma scowled, “Everyone else will be wearing one too, you should see what mom’s picked out for dad.”

“Is it worse than this?”

“Oh, considerably,” nodded Henry, whose opinion was the only one Killian was really interested in.

Killian took the sweater and tromped off to the bathroom to change with the expression of a man headed to the scaffold.

“Grandpa is never going to let him live this down, you know that right?” accused Henry.

“Your grandpa has antlers and a light up nose, he won’t be calling anybody out tonight I promise you,” Emma brushed her hands down her own sweater, the robin’s huge googly eyes determinedly pointing in entirely different directions, “and anyway, this is only the start of it.”

“What do you mean?” Henry side-eyed the bathroom door, from behind which was coming the sound of thumping and muffled curses, followed by a tinny electronic rendition of ‘Oh Christmas Tree’. The cursing grew louder.

Emma winked at Henry.

“Wait till you see the hat.”


Marcus Mumford of Mumford & Sons and Emeli Sandé join the London African Gospel Choir to perform at the War Child Winter Wassail in London on November 27, 2014. This is a backstage express rehearsal prior to the fundraiser later that night.


I never thought id be so down with a cider bar in my entire life. Wassail, billed as a cider bar, may be one of the best restaurants I’ve been to. TOTAL sleeper, like hi we serve apple juice, oh wait our food it LITTTTT🌋🌋🌋 Tho cider always reminded me of going upstate to pick apples with the fam which was sort of fun. It was mainly depressing bc I cant really leave the city for even a day of the simple life without diving into a mass depression. I was born in nyc; blessing and a curse, blessing and a curse. The mega highlight at this orchard was always the cider donuts they made which were insane. The sleeper was the pizza tho. This apple farm had the best damn pizza anywhere. One year I got a bag of doughnuts and a pizza then climbed an apple tree. I got stuck in the tree but it was cool bc I was stocked with fresh pizza and donuts in a tree full of apples. I was definitely the only one in the family opting out of the unlimited apples and instead going full in on pizza and donuts.

Tip: Few times am I ever speechless when leaving a restaurant. This was one of those times.
Tip: Most dishes can be split as a sort of snack with a cider pairing. Epic date.
Tip: You wont want to split anything bc every dish is FIRE.
Tip: Get adventurous here, you wont be let down.

When to come here: On a date, cool business one on one, dinner with a cool fam, when you want cider, for a drink and an app.

Where: 162 Orchard St, New York


5:00 PM – 1:00 AM
5:00 PM – 2:00 AM
11:00 AM – 2:00 AM
11:00 AM – 1:00 AM
5:00 PM – 1:00 AM
5:00 PM – 1:00 AM
5:00 PM – 1:00 AM

Daily Monster 105: Mari Lwyd

Region of origin: Wales

A local wassailing tradition in southern Wales, the Mari Lwyd (represented by a hobby horse made from a horse’s skull or crafted simulacrum) is led in a procession of revelers around a town at dusk during Christmastime festivities, knocking on doors and engaging the residents in a musical debate to be allowed inside and cause a ruckus. The exact etymology of the tradition is unclear but the Christmas connection may have developed as a combination of “mari” being homophonous with the Virgin Mary, and “Mari Lwyd” literally translating as “grey mare.”

Edit to add: Found this video on the Mari Lwyd tradition as it’s performed today.