A great deal of the decorations that we have come to think of as traditional for "Christmas" are in actuality remnants from ancient Pagan customs. They were used to celebrate the Winter Solstice, which is "Today" December 21st. The Holly and Laurel were believed to bring protection and luck into the home all winter long. Evergreens and pine were symbols of the god of the woods or nature. Tradition held that at the end of Winter all these items must be burned in order to welcome in Spring.
In today's world, we see see trees and wreaths being javelined out front doors, or dumped in the street the day after Christmas. The ancient Pagans kept these branches on the hearth all winter long. The stem of the tree, or Yule log, was even saved a "whole year" and burned on the following Winter Solstice for continuity of the gods' blessings.
Bright and colorful candles or lights were lit to welcome the birth of the Sun God. Use these traditional Yuletide decorations with the added knowledge that they are bringing protection, luck, life and light into your home.
Wassail is a special drink served on the Winter Solstice. Originally the word was as a drinking salute meaning "Be Whole." A traditional recipe is to mull wine, ale or beer with cinnamon sticks, cloves, allspice and nutmeg. This brew is said to bestow health and blessings on all who drink it. If Wassail is made with beer or ale it adds extra protection. If made with wine, it enhances your powers of divination.
The ancient Pagans believed the energy of the dying god, was represented in the slaughtered pig or boar. The eating of this meat would summon the rebirth of the god in each individual. Roast pork or ham should be prepared by glazing the meat with honey, then either stuffing or garnishing the meat with pineapple and apples.
Mistletoe was believed to bring luck to the hunter. During winter months, when vegetation was sparse, the successful hunting of meat meant survival. Mistletoe is also used for another type of hunt. If you want to pierce someone with Cupid's arrow, kiss him or her under the Mistletoe. But be careful as it is also a "fertility" symbol.
Lastly roast chestnuts over an open fire (or in an oven if no fireplace). They are said to increase your luck in love.
May you have Good Luck, Good Love and Good Magic on Your Winter Solstice!