Midwinter, the longest night of the year. Light a candle in every window, beacon for the soon to be reborn Sun. Celebrate a bounty at this time when things are at their bleakest.
Common Yule Traditions
Many contemporary Christmas traditions have their roots in ancient Winter Solstice celebrations. Here are a few common Wiccan and Pagan ways to celebrate this Sabbat:
The Wheel of the Year refers to the eight Sabbats, or Holidays. These are days of power, when there is a definite switch in the energies of the Earth and Nature, a "changeover." For example, with the "first" of the Sabbats (there is no "true" first, for this is a cycle, forever spiraling on, without beginning or end,) the Winter Solstice, the switch is apparent in the amount of sunlight in the day. This is the shortest day of the year, the darkest day. But, after this long night, the amount of sunlight in the day will increase, until Summer Solstice, the longest day of the year, after which the night will begin to overtake the day.
Beginning at the Solar New Year, the eight Sabbats are: Winter Solstice (aka Yule, Midwinter;) Imbolc (aka Imbolg, Candlemas, Lady Day, Purification Day;) Vernal Equinox (aka Spring Equinox, Ostara, Eostara;) Beltain (aka May Day, Beltane;) Summer Solstice (aka Midsummer, Litha;) Lughnasadh (aka Lammas;) Autumnal Equinox (aka Fall Equinox, Mabon;) and Samhain (aka Halloween, All Hallows Eve.)
There is much that can be said about these days of power (and much has been,) but the best source of information as to what these Sabbats are truly about is to just be outside, to feel what's going on. If you're calm, if you're quiet, you'll notice the change. However, as the Wheel turns, we will go into each Sabbat, covering dates and times, common traditions, and general background for each of these Holidays.
Noticing these changes and living your life in tune with this cycle and the rhythm of the Earth and Nature is referred to as "Walking the Wheel." Most simply, because all cycles are depicted as circles, but more so for what a circle stands for: unity and continuity. This Wheel traces the course of the Sun through the Stars. This Wheel then symbolizes the unity of all things under the stars and, in accordance with one of the Laws of the Universe (also known as the Laws of Magick,) "As Above, So Below*," in all of the Universe, as well. This also implies a set order to things, hinting at the existence of the Laws of the Universe.
*The entire Law is "As Above, So Below; As Within, So Without," and originally comes to us from Alchemy.