Over the past year I’ve softened a lot on the blending of pagan Yule traditions and Christian/secular Christmas traditions. One of my personal favorite traditions growing up was an advent calendar; probably because I got a present every day. Regardless of my dubious childhood motivations, below are some ideas of how to adapt an advent calendar to a pagan tradition that I call a Yule Countdown Calendar. I hope your family enjoys it. (And yes, I know it’s November, I’m just excited about the upcoming holiday season.)
What’s a Yule Countdown Calendar?
The word “advent” is a play on the Latin word for “coming” because, I guess, Christmas is coming and everyone is excited. This Yule Countdown Calendar works the same way, Yule is coming to let’s get excited about it. Traditionally, an advent calendar has 24-25 days, depending on whether there’s an extra gift on Christmas. The Yule Countdown Calendar should have 19-23 days, depending on a number of factors. If you want a box on the day of Yule, that day will be included, if not, the last box should be the day before. If you celebrate Yule on December 21st, that’s either 21 boxes (day of Yule included), or 20 boxes (last box on Yule eve). If you celebrate Yule as the Winter Solstice, the date will change from year to year, and you can adapt the Yule Countdown Calendar accordingly.
How Does it Work?
Every morning up to and/or including Yule, one item on the Countdown Calendar is opened, but only one a day. On December 1st item #1 is opened, on December 2nd item #2 is opened, and so on. If your calendar stops on Yule Eve, that gift is usually a bit fancier. I suggest making the last day Yule Eve since the gifts will steal the show on Yule. However, if the Yule Countdown Calendar is the whole gift, then Yule day should be included, and it should be the ‘big’ gift. If you have multiple witchlings, you know they count gifts and compare; giving everyone a Yule Countdown Calendar shuts down the fairness-based whining pretty effectively.