Grains and seeds, and the feeding of creatures have been associated with Yuletide holidays for hundred of years in Europe. To continue this tradition why not feed our feathered friends as a family project? We are popping popcorn, and stringing them with needle and thread, then decorating our balcony. (Picture to right of popcorn garland stringing.) Hmmm... I have some cranberries leftover, so maybe we'll add a few of them to the popcorn strand.
Also... we have some unshelled peanuts, so we'll do the same stringing thing for a nearby batch of bushes. Maybe next year, we'll have pinecones from our own property, and we'll fill with peanut butter that we've mixed with bird seed.
This is also the time of year to slaughter a goat, called the Yule Goat, and if you don't eat goat, make one out of straw. Originally the Yule goat was invisible and snuck into people's homes to make sure they had done Yule preparations correctly. Later, after Christianity, it became the bearer of gifts, which was later turned over to Santa Claus.
The Yule Log is another good project! We use the maypole that we erected and danced around on May Day. We cut it down, and decorate, using Winter's abundant greenery, and berries (like on the yew). The burning of the log is accompanied by prayers so that the coming year may bring much happiness, love, luck, riches, and food. Since we don't have a fireplace this year, it will be a missed tradition that we are eager to resume next year.
(Picture to the right: wassailing the apple trees) Then there's a-wassailing (nowadays called Christmas caroling). Wassail = wæs þu hæl, "be thou hale" — i.e., "be in good health". It is rumored, or believed, that wassailing was basically singing to the orchards of apple trees to bring good harvests in the year to come. Here's a bit of a lyric: Here's to thee, old apple tree, That blooms well, bears well. Hats full, caps full, Three bushel bags full, An' all under one tree. Hurrah! Hurrah!
Serve punch, mulled wine, spicy ale, or, our favorite, mulled apple cider!
Have a special Yule, dear friends and family.