Saturday, December 21, 2013

What is Yulemas? Opening up about my spiritual beliefs

Merry Yule!
(Our organic, local Yulemas Tree with ornaments that were handmade by my mother over 30 years ago!)

Today is "my" version of Christmas, and I have spent zero time reflecting on what that means. Which is unfortunately because this year my coworkers have discovered "Yulemas" through my "Happy Holidays" post and I found myself not at all ready to answer their questions.

What was absolutely lovely were the many "Happy Yulemas" and "Merry Yule" greetings I received as a result of my "Happy Holidays" post. I'm not sure they know just how meaningful these greetings were for me, as it was the first time non-best friends have sent their blessings personal to my own beliefs.

My reaction and sense of confirmation from these greetings also served to reinforce my thoughts on "Happy Holidays" instead of "Merry Christmas". For the first time in years I was less reminded of my feeling of spiritual isolation and feel blessed to have such thoughtful friends and colleagues.

From online discussions what I have come to realize is that most people who took offence, mocked my PC-self, or implied that I was overreacting, were those who don't actually have alternative to Christian spiritual beliefs. The "culturally Christmas" people. Which, I can understand why hearing "Merry Christmas" when you don't have an alternative, wouldn't be offensive. It was an interesting realization on my part. But it is a very narrow (and selfish) perspective.

Despite this, I did get lots of questions on "What is Yulemas?". Which I honestly should have expected, but strangely took me by surprise. I am mostly to blame for this, since I have been (understandably) cautious about sharing my spiritual beliefs, both in my online and analog life.

When my mother told me that her thirties were all about knowing herself and confidence, I'm also feeling ready to take ownership unapologetically for my beliefs. I can't expect others to respect my beliefs if I don't share what they are in the first place.

What is Yulemas?
Firstly, I should share my beliefs of Yule. As a eclectic pagan, I celebrate and believe in the Goddess and follow the pagan holidays, called "Sabbats" on the Wheel of the Year. This includes the winter solstice called Yule.

Yule is the darkest day, the day where the Goddess gives birth to the Sun King. It's a time of hope and introspection and I imagine it at the top of the wheel, teetering on the edge of dark and light.

Although I will be doing my own personal celebration today, the 21st of December is not a public holiday. I realized early on that having grown up Catholic, all of my cultural experiences around Christmas that have a decidedly pagan origin (tree, yule log, evergreens, Yule candle, gift giving), centre around the 25th of December. Also, I have a partner who respects my beliefs but is not pagan (nor Christian) himself. So, in order to be true to my own beliefs while recognizing the social constructs of a majority Christian society, we came up with a combination of Yule and Christmas= Yulemas.

Yulemas happens on the 25th of December. We celebrate all non-Jesus related activities, the tree, the stockings, exchanging gifts and lighting a Yule Candle. I have my time to reflect on the Goddess, the upcoming year, and Her influence in my life. We have friends over for Yulemas Eve (and important part of Christmas in my own family) for drinks, food and connection.

I am very happy that we were able to begin our lives together by carving out meaningful, spiritual traditions of Yulemas.

Do you have your own spiritual traditions around this time?


  1. i didn't write in at the time of your post about merry christmas but wanted to say it's a nonissue in NYC - everyone is already very acclimated to using Happy Holidays instead of Merry Christmas because NYC is such a melting pot with people of all cultures and religions.
    also you might be interested to know that my wedding will be on the summer solstice!
    happy yulemas!

  2. To answer your question I have a lot of spiritual practise around Christmas, but I suspect that would be expected. I am glad you are enjoying a blended holiday with your partner and family. Have a great Yulemas season.


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