Celebrated on the 25th of December, Christians recognise Christmas as the day that the son of God was born. An evergreen is brought into the home as a symbol of eternal life and decorated. Items used on the top of the tree are normally an angel (representing the Angel Gabriel) or a star (which the three wise men followed to find the baby Jesus). Gift giving is believed to have originated with those that the three wise men brought with them. As one of the most important Christian celebrations, Christmas continues to be a national holiday in most of the countries of the western world.
This time of year also has great significance for witches (both light and dark) and they practice many of the same traditions, only with different meanings. December 21st is the shortest day of the year, and the beginning of the winter solstice. For Wiccan witches the winter solstice is known as yule lore, and signifies the dark half of the year relinquishing to the light. This celebration is also a representation of the rebirth of the Sun King or Giver of Life, and has always been a significant part of the Wiccan religion.
The community lights bonfires in the field, and crops and trees are showered with toasts of spiced cider. Children visit their neighbours’ homes with gifts of apples and oranges, which represent the sun. Homes are decorated with holly and ivy, inside and out, which are to invite the nature sprites to join the celebration. A Yule log, which has to be either harvested from the owner’s land or given as a gift, is decorated and then lit using a piece of the one from the past year (which has been kept specifically for this purpose). This part of the celebration is in order to pass on previous blessings, and a sign of more to come.
Black magic practitioners often worship the god Nimrod, and have a similar celebration during the winter solstice. Alcohol is indulged in large quantities, and the dark forces used in spells are invited to partake (this is the origin of referring to drinks with a high alcohol content as ‘spirits’). Black witches use pine trees as a representation of the human soul, with the trunk being the spine and the branches the pathways of witch power through the body. Trees are decorated with gold (to represent Nimrod) and silver (to represent Semeramis – the queen of the heavens).
They also hang fruits, nuts and round balls made of coloured glass on the branches. These witch balls have a wire or string inside of them that has been used to trap an evil spirit. Traditionally lighted candles were also placed in the tree, to encourage Nimrod to enter the home and bless those within. These have been replaced with coloured electrical lights, and the five pointed star that is placed on the top of the tree represents the rising of the dark force within.