Llewellyn’s Holidays Series was published in the late 90s and was eventually replaced by the Sabbat Essentials Series. The Holidays Series was what I had as a baby witch, and I decided to start collecting them a while back. This was partially out of nostalgia and partially in the hopes of supplementing some of the weaker Sabbat Essentials books. “Yule: A Celebration of Light and Warmth” by Dorothy Morrison is the second book that I read in the Holiday Series, and it’s excellent. This book’s Sabbat Essentials counterpart is “Yule” by Susan Pesznecker, which is also great.
While the information in many of the Holiday books is outdated, there is still a lot of good information in them. In fact, some of the Holiday books are better than their more contemporary Essentials Series counterparts. One of the quirks of the Holiday series is that some books are titled the Christian or secular name of the holiday, which is a little odd. I think it was done so that you could read the books in public and/or give them to muggles, but it’s not consistent throughout the series. Thankfully “Yule: A Celebration of Light and Warmth” by Dorothy Morrison is not one of those.
Morrison’s “Yule” was first published in 2000 and I have a first edition, 11th printing from 2011. I absolutely love the cover, it’s so festive and pretty. A few more notable differences between the Holiday Series and the Sabbat Essentials Series are that the Holidays Series does not have consistent covers/spines (though they are all the same size), or a uniform chapter structure, and that the Holiday Series books are much larger in size than the Essentials Series books.
“Yule: A Celebration of Light and Warmth” is divided into four sections with a whopping twenty total chapters; in the interest of economy I will be review each of the four sections, rather than each sub-section, which would be tedious.
Part I: “Yule and Its Place in our Hearts” contains Chapters 1-6 and covers history, holiday customs, traditions, and superstitions that surround Yule. The history section is brief, but was quite interesting since it goes into history of the holiday in a very serious way. There was a lot that I learned from this section, and it definitely deserves a yearly read. There is also a section that takes major “Christmas” traditions and explains the historical (pagan) origins of them. I was so happy to see this section, since it’s easy to lose the pagan roots of many of the winter holiday customs in a sea of Christmas Tree Frappuccinos. Part 1 also has fun lists of global holiday traditions and superstitions.
Part II: “Preparing for the Yuletide Season” contains Chapters 7-11 and extensively covers spells, charms, trees, and decorations. This section does use “Christmas” interchangeably with Yule, which I didn’t like, but the book is quite old, so I’ll give it a pass on that. The yearly “Success Charm” (pg. 47) is my favorite, so much so that we added it to our annual traditions, and I also really liked the “Cleaning Ritual” (pg. 44-7). There are a lot of simple craft ideas in this section, many of which are probably basic by today’s standards, but it’s still full of good ideas. There’s an entire section dedicated to the Yule tree, including a blessing (pg. 74-5) and a great selection of decoration craft ideas.
Part III: “Gifting, Feasting, and Festing” (yes, “festing,” not a typo) contains Chapters 12-16 and has ideas for handmade gifts, party crafts, and recipes. I love giving people handmade gifts, and I flagged quite a few of these ideas for later. Most of the gifts work for magickal folks and muggles alike, though there are a few that are for enchanted people only, like spell kits (pg. 95) for example. There are also ideas for party decorations and games, along with quite a few recipes, only a handful of which use meat.
Part IV: “Creating Personal Traditions” contains Chapters 17-20 and discusses the author’s personal traditions, daily event ideas, and has smaller sections on staying positive, and what to do after Yule has ended. The daily event calendar is the vast majority of this section and its quite extensive. There are daily ideas – so inspiring – and this is not fluffy, it’s super-detailed. Some connect with holidays around the world, while others have spells, charms, or small rituals. These are real, substantial ideas for every single day in December, and all of them are for different god/desses and paths.
Not until the end when I read the author blurb did I learn that Morrison is a Wiccan, and I really appreciate that she made this Yule book so general. This book doesn’t contain a full ritual for a coven, but since Pesznecker’s Yule book provides that beautifully, there’s really no need.
I absolutely recommend “Yule: A Celebration of Light and Warmth” to any pagan or pagan witch that doesn’t already have it on their shelf. It’s only the slightest bit outdated, because of the simplicity of the crafts and recipes alone, but the features it provides more than makes up for it. The spells and charms in Part II as well as the December ideas section in Part IV are resources that I refer to again and again. I give this book my highest recommendation.