Blessed Yuletide & My Gifts of the Season
We all sing about the Twelve Days of Christmas, but you might not have realized that the pagan celebration of Yule is twelve days long, starting (this year) with the eve of the winter solstice on December 20 and ending on December 31.
Back when people followed a lunar calendar there were twelve days “leftover” at the end of the year. These twelve nights thus became a special time where the veil between the worlds was thin and celebrations abounded. In ancient Rome, the Festival of Saturnalia (honoring Saturn—the god of agricultural bounty) lasted about a week at this time of year. (Christmastide is also twelve days long from December 25 through January 6th —Epiphany.)
What Does Yuletide Celebrate?
Beginning with the day before the Winter Solstice celebration, Yuletide kicks off with Mother’s Night, honoring the Mother Goddess (& the coming of spring) along with the protective female ancestors who watch over us. This is always a celebration of the lengthening amount of sunlight as the calendar moves forward away from the darkest day of the year. Indeed, nearly every celebration has origins invoking the rebirth of the sun or the sun god in some way. (You can learn more about the history of Yuletide in my previous post.)
Yuletide concludes with the celebration on the Twelfth Night, which often coincides with the modern New Year’s Eve celebration—full of revelry, food, and drink. The Twelfth Night is also associated with the burning of the greens for good luck. This is not directly attributable to pagan culture or Yuletide, but seems to be linked more to Christian Epiphany. (However, I liked the timing of this so much that I adopted it as part of the pagan culture’s Twelfth Night in my Circle of Nine series.) Modern pagans often have a Yule tree as part of their celebration, although it is noted that pre-Christian pagans would likely not have done so. Instead, they would have only cut boughs of evergreens for decoration within their homes. These may have been left up until Imbolc at the beginning of February when they would have been removed and possibly burnt.
Other traditions that were initially part of the pagan or pre-Christian festival of Yule have come to be part of the Christmas tradition, including the use of holly and ivy and mistletoe as decorations, the burning of the Yule log, and gift giving, which was an important part of the Roman Saturnalia festival.
And in the spirit of the season, each day of Yuletide I am going to give a gift of thanks to those that have made my writing and reading adventure a good one in 2017. First, I’m giving thanks for my family for all the help and support they give me as I try to forge my path in this crazy publishing business. They listen to my rants, help me with tech issues, remind me to eat better, and tell me not to give up when I feel like throwing in the towel. You are the best!
(This is nearly all of my extended family in the photo.)
To see the photos that accompany the gift of thanks for the remaining days of Yuletide, you'll need to click on the highlighted title text to reach the Facebook post for each day.
ON THE SECOND DAY OF YULETIDE . . . my gift of thankfulness is for long-time critique partners Silvia Acevedo and Keith Pitsch (who-really-needs-to-get-a-Facebook-account-but-we-love-him-anyway.) We've lost track of how many books we've critiqued for each other. I couldn't do this crazy writing business without them.
ON THE THIRD DAY OF YULETIDE . . . My gift of thankfulness goes to all of the bloggers and authors who have been guests on my blog, celebrating new releases and letting me interview them. I've had such fun this year getting to know you all better and getting a first look at your new books! You're a talented bunch!
ON THE FOURTH DAY OF YULETIDE . . . my gift of thankfulness goes to all of the wonderful librarians and libraries across the state! You make a difference every day! I'm particularly thankful for my home library (@ColPubLib) and the wonderful Cindy Fesemyer.
ON THE FIFTH DAY OF YULETIDE . . . my gift of thankfulness goes out to the incredibly fun school and library visits I made throughout the year. Smart students, asking smart questions. I'm certain that I've met some future bestselling authors!
ON THE SIXTH DAY OF YULETIDE . . . my gift of thankfulness is for all of the wonderful stories I've read this year. I've been transported to so many beautiful, enchangting, scary, and completely horrible places in such wonderful ways. I've fallen in love with characters who have made me so sad that I'd read the last page of their story. I couldn't possibly list everyone who has entertained me this year with their words, but thank goodness for every single one of you.
ON THE SEVENTH DAY OF YULETIDE . . . my gift of thankfulness goes to the readers and reviewers of my books. First, thank you for taking the time to read my stories and second, thank you for letting me know what you thought--even those of you who had critical things to say. I've learned something from every review I've ever gotten. (And here's a nudge to those of you who have received a wonderful book as a gift . . . pass on the love and write a review for that author. It truly means a lot!)
ON THE EIGHTH DAY OF YULETIDE . . . my thankfulness is for inspiration for new stories. I will never in my lifetime be able to write all the stories in my mind, but I'm grateful for the ideas nonetheless. And I'm grateful for the ability to share the ones that I manage to get down on paper. May you find inspiration for your creativity--whatever that may be throughout 2018!
ON THE NINTH DAY OF YULETIDE . . . my gift of thankfulness goes out to all the other writers who are part of my tribe. I've met you at conferences, book festivals, ethnic festivals, and through social media. We've commiserated together, we've learned together, we've presented sessions together, we've sold books together, we've drowned our sorrows together (at least once or twice!), and we've cheered each other's successes. I'm so grateful for you all!
ON THE TENTH DAY OF YULETIDE . . . my gift of thankfulness is the ability to travel and see so many new places that fuel my writing. Here are two images from Ireland and two from our most recent trip to Spain.
ON THE ELEVENTH DAY OF YULETIDE . . . my gift of thankfulness is for my agent, Kim McCollum of The Purcell Agency. It took quite a few years and an exponentially greater number of queries to find my agent. It's a blessing to have someone else on my team in this crazy publishing business.
ON THE TWELFTH DAY OF YULETIDE . . . my gift of thankfulness if for the "Never Done THIS Before" Challenge I started at the beginning of the year. I tried to do at least one, new challenging thing each month to help boost my creativity. I ended up boosting my confidence, too. I've witnessed many people all year with the courage to try new things and expand their horizons. So on this last night of Yuletide . . . and New Year's Eve, too. Here's a toast to COURAGE!