Yule is the Nordic holiday that celebrates the cycle of life. Everything must first be born and then die. The word Yule means 'wheel'. It represents the wheel of the year as it goes from birth in the spring to death in the winter. This time of year is at the end of the cycle when we celebrate that the days are getting longer and that the cycle is beginning again. December 21, or the winter solstice, is the shortest day of the year.
There are 12 nights to Yule, called the Wih-Nights, between *December 20 and January 1st. Each of the 12 nights is a time to reflect back upon each of the 12 months. Remember what you have done and think about what you want to do. During these 12 nights is when the doors between the worlds are completely opened. Wodan's wild hunt rides during the night looking for unsuspecting people and the dead walk freely among the living. So this is a good time to honor those that have walked before you and a good time to make new resolutions about the future.
Evergreens embody the soul of life itself. They remain green and unchanged through warmth and the cold. This is why at Yule we surround ourselves with pines, holly, and other such greenery. So even during the coldest part of the winter we can look upon them and be assured that spring will be here soon.
Nordic people, along with other pagans, will wait up the whole night to welcome in the sunrise and anxiously await spring, the time of rebirth. Among other traditions at this time, is the one of the Yule Log. The custom is to light the log and let it burn throughout the night. If it happens to go out before the sun comes up it is an omen of bad luck. Keep the ashes during the next year to be used for fertility and for protection. Keep the unburnt part of the log to kindle the next year's Yule log.
So at this time, be happy. Lift your horn and make a toast to Thor, for this is his month. Eat, drink, be merry, and remember, the worst of this year is over - look forward to doing it all again!