The Twelve Days of Yuke begin with the day after Christmas Day and end on January 6, Twelfth Night. Supposedly each of the twelve days predicts what the weather will be like for the corresponding month of the year (that is, the first day foreshadows the weather in January, etc.).

Helen Farias suggests that the 12 days were originally 13 nights, celebrated from the dark moon nearest the solstice through the next full moon. Greek women celebrated a Dionysian ritual on the full moon nearest the Winter Solstice.

In medieval England, all work was suspended during the Christmas or Yule holidays. Women could begin spinning again on January 7th, the day after Twelfth Night, which was called St Distaff’s Day. According to Germanic tradition, the goddess Holle, dressed all in white, rides the wind in a wagon on the Twelve Days of Christmas. During this time, no wheels can turn: no spinning, no milling, no wagons (sleighs were used instead). Holle punished women who disobeyed the taboo. Women were also forbidden to work on the days of certain female saints whose holidays fall during the winter. Lacemakers and spinners take a holiday on Nov 25, St Catherine’s Day. And any woman who works on St Lucy’s Day (Dec 13) will find her work undone the next day.

It seems clear that this is a magical period, a time out of time, whatever dates you choose. It is a special time, existing outside of the usual rules, when work is forbidden and all routines should be turned upside down. If you compare the cycle of the year to other cycles, as Demetra George does in Mysteries of the Dark Moon, this time is equivalent to the dark moon in the lunar cycle, the time of bleeding in the menstrual cycle, the hours before dawn in the daily cycle and, in our life cycles, the period after death and before birth. It is the time right before your birthday in your personal year cycle, often a time to reassess what you've accomplished. All of these are powerful moments when new possibilities are seeded.-Waverly Fitzgerald

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