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Yule is also known as the winter solstice in the northern hemisphere and the summer solstice in the southern hemisphere due to the seasonal differences.

Yule, (pronounced EWE-elle) is when the dark half of the year relinquishes to the light half. Starting the next morning at sunrise, the sun climbs just a little higher and stays a little longer in the sky each day. Known as Solstice Night, or the longest night of the year, the sun's "rebirth" was celebrated with much joy. On this night, our ancestors celebrated the rebirth of the Oak King, the Sun King, the Giver of Life that warmed the frozen Earth. From this day forward, the days would become longer.

Deities of Yule: All Newborn Gods, Sun Gods, Mother Goddesses, and Triple Goddesses,Forest Gods
Brighid, Isis, Demeter, Gaea, Diana, The Great Mother.
Apollo, Ra, Odin, Lugh, The Oak King, The Horned One, The Green Man, The Divine Child, Mabon.

The Holly King and The Oak King

In some Pagan traditions, the story of the Oak King and the Holly King are seen as dual aspects of Horned God. Each one ruling half the year,both battles for the favor of the Goddess and once the battle is over, the one who lost would return to his home to nurse his wounds and prepare to win the next battle.
The Holly King rules from the Summer Solstice to the Winter Solstice. On the Winter Solstice, He is slain by His enemy—and twin—the Oak King, who rules until the Summer Solstice, when He is slain in turn by the returning Holly King. The Holly King is the god of the waning half of the year, of “darkness, decay and destruction, and is often seen as the Lord of the Underworld.
The Oak King is the god of the waxing half of the year, of light and life. A fertility god, occasionally appearing as the Green Man or the lord of the forest.
All life needs both light and darkness, both fertility and decay, both birth and death.
The Oak King and the Holly King for all that they struggle to overthrow each other know that without the other they would not be for they are two sides of the same coin. You cannot have one without having the other.
We need to accept all aspects of our natures and learn to see them as reflections of ourselves and not unyielding definitions. Like the seasonal Oak/Holly King, being bested does not mean we have failed it just means that maybe we need to look at something from a different perspective.
I have always loved the story of the Holly King and the Oak King. It represents the constant struggle we all endure in our lives. Darkness and death are as much a part of our lives as light and birth. These life experiences teaches us to grow and learn and to be able to handle everyday life, no matter what is thrown in our path.

Mistletoe was considered a sacred plant, and the custom of kissing under the mistletoe began as a fertility ritual.
The tree is the one symbol that unites almost all the northern European winter solstices.The Druids used the tree as a religious symbol, holding their sacred ceremonies while surrounding and worshipping huge trees.  Evergreen boughs were sometimes carried as totems of good luck .

The giving of gifts was first founded in Rome to celebrate Saturn's Festival. The use of jingle balls is and Old Norse custom to drive away the evil spirits, in a time and place where night was longer than day. The Yule log is actually an indoor equivalent of the outdoor bonfire of Midwinter Eve. There used to be an old custom of saving apiece of the Yule log, 'for luck' to kindle the next year's blaze. The wreath, the complete circle, represents the Wheel of the Year.

Yule trees historically were Fir, Evergreen or Pine. Evergreens were cherished at this time of year as a natural symbol of rebirth and life amid winter whiteness. Holly was particularly prized to decorate doors, windows and fireplaces because of its prickliness -- to either ward off or snag and capture evil spirits before they could enter and harm a household.

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Bear in mind "A Modern Herbal" was written with the conventional wisdom of the early 1900's. This should be taken into account as some of the information may now be considered inaccurate, or not in accordance with modern medicine.