I know most pagans are all about Autumn and the Samhain season. But I have a not-so-secret secret…I’m all about the Winter and Yule holiday season. I love the cozy, family vibes during the Winter Solstice. The food, the decorations, the gifts, the traditions, and most of all the PAGAN YULE songs. I’m one of those people that start listening to Halloween songs in September. And I’m also one of those people who start listening to Yule songs no later than Thanksgiving. So, without further adieu, let’s dive into some of the best Christmas music…for pagans. And from here, you can build the perfect festive Yule music playlist.
If you didn’t already know, Yule is the Norse/Germanic term for the pagan Winter Solstice sabbat. You’ve probably heard terms used around Christmas like Yuletide or Yule log, etc. These are all referring to the old Germanic Winter traditions surrounding Yule also spelled Jul or Jol. Many of our modern Christmas traditions originate in older Norse and Germanic pagan customs including the Yule log, Christmas ham, lights, and more.
But what’s the point here? The point is that Yule, and therefore Winter Solstice in general, are important to pagans and witches alike. This festival marks the shortest day of the year and the longest night of the year. Which means the next day, the Sun will be reborn again and start its next cycle in the sky. And the days will begin to grow longer and longer until the Summer Solstice. We celebrate the Winter Solstice aka Yule with various traditions, some old and customary and others personal to the individual or family. These might include Yule gift giving, the Yule log tradition, telling ghost stories around a Yule fire, Wassailing (caroling), feasting on a Christmas ham (reminiscent of the sacrificial Yule boar) and other Yule foods, honoring our ancestors and more.
We can also celebrate in smaller, everyday ways like making traditional holiday foods, adding cinnamon to our coffee, wearing Yuletide colors, praying to our ancestors and gods, and…listening to Pagan Yule songs, of course. Now, onto the music!
Unfortunately, you may have noticed there isn’t a ton of Pagan Yule songs out there. Yet. I say yet because I believe pagan music is on the rise and we will see more and more artists coming out with Winter Solstice themed tunes in the near future. Keep an eye on artists like Danheim, Heilung, Wardruna, Eivor, and Valravn (to name a few).
But what constitutes Pagan Yule music, anyway? I believe there are a few ways to look at this. One, it is music made by alternative “pagan” musicians with a Winter Solstice, Winter, or Yule theme. And two, Pagan Yule songs could also be purely secular music. Which means Christmas songs without the overtly religious tone. For example, Christian religious Christmas songs would include: Away in a Manger, Noel, Angels We Have Heard on High, etc. Whereas secular non-religious Christmas songs include: Deck the Halls, the 12 Days of Christmas, Frosty the Snowman, White Christmas, Winter Wonderland, Silver Bells, etc.
I’m the kind of person that I truly listen to ALL Winter music including the religious, secular, and pagan. But there are many pagans who prefer to exclude the religious Christmas music and that’s great too. You should build a Yule song playlist that fits your preferences. Your playlist might end up having pagan Yule songs made by pagan artists AND secular Christmas songs. OR it might be purely pagan Yule music with nothing else. It’s totally up to you.
In this section, I will include my favorite Norse and Pagan Yule songs that are directly about Yule and the Solstice. And some that just have Wintry vibes or invoke Winter Solstice spiritual themes like ancestors, death, the gods, etc. Listen to them individually and add them to your Yule playlist as you like. I prefer to keep these songs together as a RITUAL playlist, as well. They are great for purification, protection, and invocation rituals during the Winter.
I explained the difference between pagan Yule songs and secular Christmas music above, so I won’t go back into that here. But here are a few of my favorite secular holiday tunes:
There’s a crisp hint of magic in the air. And a sense of warmth and …September 21, 2023