The solstice was called Mother's Night and celebrated one's female ancestors. Burning rosemary and calling out female ancestors by name is one way to honor them.
The oldest Yuletide tradition is the burning of the Yule log, usually the largest piece of wood. Many people today don't have a fireplace, so a Yule candle can be substituted. The candle tradition started way back in England in the early nineteenth century. Light the candle at sunset on the night of the solstice. It's customary to keep a small piece of the candle for luck in the coming year.
Merry Christmas, Happy Yule!
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