Happy Yule!

Ritual and ceremony can bridge our past and our present elegantly, making it possible for folks like you and me to travel through life, honoring the good and bad times we’ve been through. They can help us become human “well-beings,” ready to take on more life and liberty and ready to pursue our happiness.” - Carl Jung

December 20 to 21 - a Quarter day, Solar festival

The Solstice marks the longest night of the year. Since the dawn of civilization December has been a month of celebration, for after this night, the dark nights begin to grow shorter as light once again returns to the world. Yule is a time for new beginnings. It is a time to gather together, to feast and renew relationships, to strengthen the bonds of friendship and family ties. This is also the time to forgive, a time to abandon the things that did not serve, to make peace with the troubles of the past and to look ahead with hope, each of us aspiring to be better, as we pay homage to the cycle of life. It is important that we each join the celebration, taking time to gather with family and friends and join the feast for it is at this time that relationships are renewed, that memories are made, that the bonds of friendship and family ties are strengthened and we find that joining the celebration holds a magic for us all. Participating in holiday celebrations helps us feel connected to our place in society. By recognizing and celebrating holidays and interacting with family, friends, and community we acknowledge the seasonal change, attune with the natural tides, and acknowledge the rhythms of life, death, and rebirth as we recognize that we are a part of the ever changing cycle.

The Symbols of the Season

For thousands of years Yule has been a time of feasting and merriment and many of its old customs are still practiced in our modern celebrations. Traditions such as the greening the home with pine, holly, and mistletoe, decorating a tree, wassailing, baking specialty cakes, cookies, and breads, and the baking of the Yule log all can be traced back to antiquated Solstice customs. Even Santa, the bearded jolly old soul, parallels stories of the god Oden and the Norse Yule Elf who leaves gifts on the Solstice to those who give him offerings, from England he is Father Christmas, from Germany Kris Kringle, from Holland St. Nick and from Russia Father Winter. Gathering together for the feast, the giving of gifts, putting up lights, and the hanging of wreaths are all symbols of the Yuletide and these symbols of the season have origins dating back thousands of years.

Holiday Foods

Through the ages, food has played an pivotal role in celebrations honoring the harvest and the changing seasons. We all seem to go overboard with holiday baking, whipping up our favorite breads, cookies, and cakes. I know I do. Joining the celebration holds a magick for us all.

Russian Tea Cakes

This recipe is an old holiday standard known by many names. These sweet and nutty treats are always on our holiday baking list.

You will need:

1 cup butter

1 teaspoon vanilla extract

6 Tablespoons confectioners' sugar

2 cups all-purpose flour

1 cup chopped walnuts

1/3 cup powdered sugar for decoration

Preheat oven to 350 degrees F (175 degrees C). In a medium bowl, cream butter and vanilla until smooth. Sift together the confectioners' sugar and flour. then stir into the butter mixture until just blended. Mix in the chopped walnuts. Roll dough into 1 inch balls, and place them 2 inches apart on an ungreased cookie sheet. Bake for 12 minutes in the preheated oven. When cool, roll in remaining powdered sugar. I also like to roll mine in the sugar a second time.

Cream Cheese Brownies

This is another easy family favorite I make every holiday. The boys love these!Chocolate holds energy for Gratitude, happiness, health, longevity, love, luxury, and riches. Cream cheese holds a loving nurturing energy. Put these together and you get an uplifting feel-good energy for happiness and love.

You will need:

1 cup butter, cut into pieces

15 ounces fine-quality bittersweet chocolate, chopped

4 large eggs

2 Tablespoons strong coffee
1 1/2 cups flour
1 1/2 cups packed brown sugar
1 teaspoon baking powder
1 teaspoon salt
(for a shortcut 1 package of brownie mix that does not include a syrup pouch can be substituted)
For Filling:

8 ounce package cream cheese, softened

1/3 cup sugar

1 egg

1/2 teaspoon vanilla

Preheat oven to 350 degrees F. Melt butter with chocolate with the butter in a saucepan, stirring until smooth. Remove pan from heat and let cool slightly. And spoon into a mixing bowl. Whisk in eggs, 1 at a time. Add the coffee and mix until smooth. In a small bowl, sift together flour, sugar, baking powder, and salt. Stir the flour mixture into the chocolate mixture until incorporated. Spread batter into a greased 13x9-inch baking pan.In another bowl mix together cream cheese, sugar, egg, and vanilla until smooth. Spread the cream cheese mixture over the brownie layer. Then take a knife and cut through batter several times to create a marbled effect.

Bake 35 to 40 minutes or until cream cheese mixture is lightly browned. Cool cut into squares.

Magick Bars

You will need:

1 1/2 cups graham cracker crumbs

1/2 cup butter, melted

1 (14 oz.) Sweetened Condensed Milk

2 cups (12 oz. pkg.) semi-sweet chocolate chips

1 1/3 cups flaked coconut

1 cup chopped nuts

Heat oven to 350°F. Coat 13 x 9-inch baking pan with no-stick cooking spray. Combine graham cracker crumbs and butter in small bowl. Press into bottom of prepared pan. Pour sweetened condensed milk evenly over crumb mixture. Layer evenly with chocolate chips, coconut and nuts. Press down firmly with fork. Bake 25 to 30 minutes or until lightly browned. Loosen from sides of pan while still warm cool on wire rack. Cut into bars.