Before there were clocks or calendars, ancient man observed the sun and moon, and many cultures held rituals or events to mark the day with the shortest amount of sunlit hours. This day came to be called Yule, also known as the Winter Solstice. Traditionally, the holiday is marked on December 21st, although physically the astronomical event can fall between December 20th and 23rd for the Northern Hemisphere. In the Southern Hemisphere, this holiday falls on the corresponding dates in June. In Wiccan beliefs, the Sun King is reborn as a new baby on this day, emerging from the fallow period that began with Samhain at the end of October. Gathering around hearth or bonfires all night was one of the most common rituals on this holiday and is the root of the Yule Log tradition known today. Most modern pagans acknowledge Yule as the rebirth of the light half of the year; some traditions perform the play of the Oak King and the Holly King, just as it is done at Midsummer, to mark the change of the seasons as one of them reigns over the other. It is also generally accepted that the date of Christmas is an arbitrary one; that it was chosen to coincide with the pagan solstice celebration, as a way of "converting" the "heathens" (or country folk, heath-dwellers) to the Christian way of life. The first written record of the reason for this holiday's occurrence on December 25th was in 354 AD, in Rome, when one scholar wrote: "It was customary for pagans to celebrate the birth of the sun...when the doctors of the Church perceived that the Christians had a leaning to this festival, they took counsel and resolved that the true Nativity should be solemnized on that day." . NOTE: If you would tap onto the links below, you might get a better understanding and more detail than I can provide in this answer. :) . http://www.witchvox.com/va/dt_va.html?a=usma&c=holidays&id=2079 . http://relache.hubpages.com/hub/Yule
Isn't it just some pagan feast to be enjoyed during the winter solstice? I believe the Christians made a holiday of it too, so now I think "Yule tide" means Christmas time. Correct me if I'm wrong, my Christian and pagan skills are a little rusty
For people of nearly any religious background, the time of the winter solstice is a time when we gather with family and loved ones. For Pagans and Wiccans, it's often celebrated as Yule, but there are literally dozens of ways you can enjoy the season.