Many consider December to the mark the final big holiday of the season. For some this would be Christmas but those that celebrate the Wheel of the Year celebrate Yule or the Winter Solstice. There are many traditions for this celebration including a tale of battle between the Holly and Oak King to tell tale of how their seasonal battle effects the seasons.
The Holly King
Many associate the Holy King with Santa Clause given his large form covered in red with a wreath of holly in his hair. He is also seen driving a sleigh pulled by reindeer. The Holly King is the dark ruler of the colder half of the year, and is the victor of the battle when held on Midsummer ruling from the Summer Solstice to the Winter Solstice. His rule signals the end of the harvest season and the beginning of the colder months. He lures nature to sleep using the cold to ensure humans stay inside their homes.
The Oak King
The Green man and the King of light who is the victor of the victor of the Summer Solstice ruling until Yule. He represents the end of the Winter season and the rebirth of the Spring season. On New Year’s Eve, we make resolutions or promises of changes we hope to receive in the new year. He brings in the first day of Spring and awakes the animals and forests from their winter slumber. He is the start of the harvest season marking the start of new life in nature.
Two rivals that are brothers are opposites cut from the same coin meet on the battle fields for Midsummer and Yule. On these days, they prepare with holding large feasts and celebrations. They’re attended by creatures and spirits that represent their seasons and enjoy the final hour of their rule.
Then, on the hours of the longest and shortest night, they exchange blows. Each dying at the hands of the other. On Yule, the Holly King is slayed and placed in his chambers until the Summer Solstice when the roles will be reversed.
Moreover, this story has always fascinated me due to its explanation of how the seasons change midway through the year. Everyone knows that these two days of the year are special times when the fey visit the world, making some wonders if these two immortal Kings belong to their court. The myth explains the change from the two opposites of the seasons Winter and Summer to add a more fantasy aspect to what we consider to be the cycle of the seasons.
Now. shush, I’m trying to read,