The Christmas Traditions That We Recognize Today Are Found In Ancient Celtic Solstice Celebebrations
From the Transceltic by Alastair Kneale on December 23, 2017: The Winter solstice was seen by the ancient Celts as one of the most significant times of the year. Druids, the priestly class in ancient Celtic society, celebrated the festival of Alban Arthuan (also known as Yule.) The Yule log burnt by the Celts was to counter the darkness of mid-Winter when they thought the sun stood still for twelve days and to bring good luck. Many of the burial chambers and monuments scattered throughout the Celtic nations were constructed to capture the full impact of sun’s rays during the solstices. It was also a time when they ceremonially gathered mistletoe from oak trees for its magical and health-giving properties. (A practice described in the writings of Roman historian Pliny the Elder (Gaius Plinius Secundus AD 23 – August 25, AD 79)). The Holly and ivy were evergreens the Celts considered important to keep evil spirits at bay. A Tree decorated with symbols of solar objects was a gift to Celtic gods and goddesses.
From Newsletter Newsletter: THE PLANT OF PEACE For most of us, the mention of mistletoe probably brings kissing to mind. But that practice wasn’t the first involving mistletoe. Two thousand years before Christ, the ancient Celtic people living in Gaul considered mistletoe to be sacred and medicinal. Druids, the priests of the Celtic tribes, used it in religious ceremonies held in tree groves where mistletoe was found. In ancient Scandinavia, enemies, who met by chance beneath the mistletoe, laid down their weapons and held a truce until the next day. This practice eventually led to the tradition of kissing under the mistletoe, the “plant of peace.” The use of mistletoe has continued throughout the centuries during the Christmas season as a decoration and as a symbol of fun and joy. But its early religious roots and peacemaking qualities are even more significant.
So when celebrating Christmas the traditional trappings that go with this festive season have roots that go far back into Celtic history. The Mistletoe gathered by the Druids for its magical and health giving properties. The Yule log burnt by the Celts to counter the darkness of mid-Winter when they thought the sun stood still for twelve days and to bring good luck. The Holly and Ivy; evergreens that Celts saw as important to keep evil spirits at bay. The Tree decorated with symbols of solar objects and gifts to Celtic gods and goddesses.