She set the candle down on the old wooden table. She placed the piece of wood she had saved from last year’s Yule log down and with kindling and coals watched it spark and come to life, bringing the fire of hope into the hearth. The embers burst blue and orange and red, and light entered the dusky room a little brighter. She opened the lid of the big cast iron pot of stew on the hook above the fire to stir its contents. Its savory aromas filled the room. The fire and candle lights danced across shadows on the wooden walls as William entered the room.
William was just a wee lad and curious at that. “Why is it dark already this afternoon, Mother?” he asked innocently with a touch of fear in his voice. “Has the sun gone away for good?” He pushed the red hair out of his face as his mother gathered him in for a hug.
“Nay, she said, ’tis the first night of Yule, my boy. Tonight we celebrate the rebirth of the sun. It is dark now, but he returns and the promise of life continues. In a few months time, we shall have crops and fresh milk again. The warmth will return too and you shall be out running amuck with your friends again!”
She laughed and straightened her apron and went back to her work, gathering up loaves of bread she had baked that morn into cloth to keep warm by the fire. The family would be arriving soon. The uncles would be bringing their fiddles and Grandmother and Grandfather promised to bring popcorn to pop over the fire. The children loved that.
Each night of the twelve days of Yule, each family took turns hosting the others. The village would make sure no one was hungry or cold. Even trees would be decorated with seeds for wild birds, and remnants of green and red fabric on the branches would look merry. It was all very festive and fun.
William stood outside under the dark moon sky and looked at the masses of brilliant stars as they hung from the night, so close he could nearly touch them. Just then he heard singing, and along the road came his family and friends, full of joy, coming towards him. For the sun is born and in the dark of the darkest night, there is hope and joy and love.
Tonight is the first night of Yule. May yours be blessed with fire in the hearth, good food, music, family and friends, love, and most of all…hope.