This is my third attempt at writing this post. Somehow it always seems to turn into a master’s thesis on cookie symbolism and that is likely to put anyone to sleep, especially little ones with the attention span of a busy bee.
Cookie decorating is supposed to be a fun time. Lots of icing and little coloured sprinkles to cover the tops of gingerbread and sugar cookies. Messy hands and happy tummies, a chance to step away from the ‘todo’ list and play, in the moment, with the neighbourhood kids or the grandchildren or whatever group of sugar artists happen to come together.
There is a conversation between “letting creativity fly” and having a deeper understanding of the meaning of symbols. Much of that is connected to the age of your little magicians.
If you are a Pagan parent or have pagan children in your circle, this is an ideal opportunity to at least start a conversation about what is “cultural”, what is “Christian” and what has it’s roots in much older traditions.
Thank you! to all the contributors for this post. Your company, creativity and enthusiasm was lovely!
In quick point form:
Odin leads the wild hunt in some countries but each northern country has its own traditions around a wild hunt. (Odin is also seen as the original gift giving man with a long white beard.) One of Odin’s names is Jolnir. Jol or Jul being the source of a word we use in English, Yule.
The Stag is also a symbol of The Horned One, consort of the Goddess.
Star- The most used symbol in the world. Whether the Pentagram, Star of Bethlehem or the sparkle in the heavens on a crisp clear winter night, stars are great cookie shapes. Earth, Air, Fire, Water & Spirit, the orbit of Venus, creating sacred space, there are many ways to share the meaning of this shape beyond the more common and cultural ones.
Bell- In Paganism, bells represent the Goddess. They are used in purification and protection. Feng Shui bells are also used to fill a home with positive energy. From a Christian perspective bells ring out the “Good News” and invite people to gather. If you are grown up you will know a ringing bell means an angel has gotten its’ wings and if you are still young at heart and know the story of the Polar Express, hearing a silver bell ring will mean that you truly believe. The list of Christmas songs connected to bells is lengthy, “Jingle Bells, Carol of the Bells, Silver Bells, I heard the Bells on Christmas Day, the original White Christmas even has bells in the chorus”. and that is just the start. The vibrations that come from a ringing bell are said to effect the energy of the area they are rung in.
Tree- Evergreen trees are a symbols of immortality. When everything else has lost its leaves and gone dormant, the conifers of the north, Spruce, Fir, Pine, Cedar, Hemlock etc. gave hope, reminding us that the seasons will change again when light returns life to the land. Now known more commonly as a Christmas Tree, the tradition of decorating a tree at Yule goes back centuries before the Romans arrived in Europe.
You may need to be the keeper of the dyes. Boys love deep deep colour!
Circle – These circles were used to mark the passing of time throughout the year. In Wiccan traditions, the special festival days that make up the wheel. Circles are also used as a symbol of protection and a boundary between spaces.
Other meanings are eternity, unity & completion. They can also represent a sphere, like Earth.
Everyone has a personal cultural and religious mix of traditions that mingle to create the memories of the season.
Those stories ultimately tell us we are all connected, to each other and to the planet we call home.
So whether, Odin, St. Nicholas or Santa Claus is coming to your house this winter, share the fun and leave some lovingly decorated treats and a glass of milk to help him on his way.
Decorating Yule Cookies from My Kitchen Wand