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The ancient peoples of northern Europe used to hang holly at their doors to shelter the woodland spirits from the chilly winds, and so insure good luck to their homes
In Rome, Saturnalia was celebrated in a week long ceremony to honor Saturn, God of Death. The carnival starts on the17th of December. Slaves were given freedom, everyone partied and gifts were exchanged.
In ancient times a girl was selected to represent the sun goddess. She would sit atop the Yule log as it was dragged in for the festivities. Everyone drank to the health of the girl.
Christmas bulbs that were hung on the tree, take their origins from garden ornaments called "witch balls". During the 18th century a pedestal supporting a glass ball was used as protection and was a form of mirror magic. (The evil eye would be reflected back to the one casting the spell.)
For abundance, hang fruit on the Christmas tree. Burn bayberry candles.
A child born on Yule, according to English tradition, has the ability to see ghosts.
Among Germanic people, the pine tree trimmed with ornaments and lit candles at Yule is called Tannenbaum, meaning "sacred tree", the word Yule means "wheel" and signifies resurrection and rebirth. On fool's day (Dec. 23) in ancient Europe the town fool was crowned and seated on the throne, and the real king went into seclusion signifying that even the powerful had to die in order to be reborn again.
Yuletide, like All Hallows, is a time for looking into the future. A simple method of Yuletide divination was to toss a shoe over your left shoulder. If it landed upright the coming year would bring many favours.
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