Yuletide (also known simply as Yule) is a widely observed three-week period of reflection, celebration, and thanksgiving beginning December 1st, and concluding with the Winter Solstice on December 21st. As tradition holds, the festivities are formally opened and closed via two rituals conducted by The Council of Five: The Ritual to the Past, and the Ritual to the Future. While aspects of each remain deeply guarded secrets, both rituals include public ceremonies that draw from the collective power of the Magimundi, uniting all wizards in a common cause, if only for a moment.
During the Ritual to the Past, a moment occurs when the Council of Five invites all mages and wizards to join them in honoring the contributions of former magical figures and creatures. Participation can either be verbal or contained to the privacy of one's own thoughts. There is no observable effect of this action, though many have reported feeling energetic surges and moments of what is described as a “shift.” Although rare, the concerted pooling of this magical energy has produced certain aberrations across the Five Provinces.
The Ritual to the Future contains a similar public component, but here, the resulting effect is clear. At the conclusion of the ceremony, The Council of Five encourages members of the Magimundi to focus on their respective goals and desires for the upcoming year. The subsequent outpouring of hope and ambition is channeled into an observable orb of magical energy, which the Council of Five releases at the end of the ceremony. As the energy disseminates throughout the provinces, it takes root in the cells of all plants and creatures, helping to nourish them throughout the winter. The Ritual to the Future concludes with a public reaffirmation of the Council’s commitment to serve all provinces equally over the next year; after the final council member takes the oath, Yuletide is officially closed.
The rituals and sentiments surrounding Yuletide have spawned a number of traditions widely practiced throughout the Magimundi. While this is not a comprehensive list, here a few of the most predominant:
Formal Yule Traditions
- The Tradition of the Squirrel
- This tradition involves burying something to grow to fruition later, or to be forgotten. Squirrels work furiously in the weeks leading to winter, storing away food to sustain them. Then they rest.
- The Tradition of the Beaver
- During Yule, Wizards and mages gather in lodges for warmth and cheer, shelter and safety. Beavers do not leave their lodges at all during the winter months. While wizards and mages must venture out, they are reminded of the safety and solidarity of the lodge.
- The Tradition of the Ptarmigan
- During the Yuletide season, many take to wearing of white to signify renewal, embracing challenge, and welcoming a new season. The Ptarmigan changes its feathers from brown to white in the winter. Even though that reduces its ability to fly, it improves its ability to remain unseen, thus improving its chances of survival.
- The Tradition of the Raccoon
- The Tradition of the Raccoon is tied to seizing opportunity. The raccoon survives the winter by adapting and eating whatever it can find. The Magimundi honor the raccoon by preparing unusual combinations of food and vowing to be thankful for what presents itself for sustenance.
- The Tradition of Gratitude
- At most Yule Balls, lengths of white, pale blue, or silver ribbon are cut into about 12” portions. The mage imbues gratitude, appreciations, support, and friendship into them with breath and incantation, each ribbon intended for a specific person. The ribbon is gifted to someone else in this manner: approach them, make eye contact, hold out the ribbon. The recipient offers their right wrist. The person giving the ribbon states what they are thankful for or appreciate about the person: “I give you this ribbon for/because …” or “I am grateful for you because/for ...” and ties the length on the person’s wrist, who responds with thank you, while keeping eye contact.
- The decorating of trees with ornaments and ribbon: a common tradition across the provinces, wizards often pay homage to the Ritual to the Future by placing decorative orbs (representing the collective energy of the Magimundi) on trees. The ornaments reflect the Magimundi’s commitment to being good stewards to the environment, and the ribbon is meant to be a physical representation of the magic that pulses through all living things.
- White lights: wizards have always been fascinated with the celestial bodies that guard them in the night and provide guidance to the future. Hanging white lights illustrates the connection wizards have to the stars and appreciation for their influence over the lives of so many.
- Colored lights: folklore holds that ancient wizards used to bind Duwenden equal to the number of people within their family to a rope and place the rope within their home as a representation of the energetic bond that unites them. While there is still debate over whether Duwenden call feel pain (and thus, whether this tradition is cruel) most wizards have opted to continue the practice with other material means. The colored lights celebrate the diversity of all mages and wizards in the Magimundi, and the connecting strands represent the fundamental bond that unites them.
- Yule log: a physical representation of the power and energy within all things, and a reminder to respect the environment and use its resources effectively, with a focus on moderation.
- Wendigo hunt: Although controversial in some provinces, Mishipeshu officials strongly argue that the annual Wendigo Hunt conducted during Yule is meant to honor the wizarding community’s commitment to being good stewards of the environment.
- Gift giving: a physical representation of the thanks giving and reflection done during the Yuletide period. This is a time to celebrate and reward each other, and a gift is a great way to illustrate these sentiments. Gifts do not have to be expensive, and the holiday is not about lavish spending or accumulation. Many members of the Magimundi make thoughtful handmade gifts or give a gift of their time.
- Feasting and general cheer: Yuletide is a party, live it up!
- Dancing: many Yuletide celebrations culminate in a dance, complete with decorations that capture the themes of the season. Dances include traditional steps and music to honor the past, and innovative current music to nod to the future. Fancy regalia, honor, tradition and revelry abound.
- Wand inspection, cleaning, and care: As a part of the season, all wizards and mages care for their wands, their extensions of their magic and personal magical artifacts. This is the time for polishing, repair, and incantations of cleansing and bonding.