On the darkest night of the year on December 21, 2022, Winter Solstice is a good time to get cosy with a ghost story. Some people enjoy a tale of terror with a classic work, or might be watching HBO Max’s Yule Log, which is new for this year. Once upon a time, people were fearful at this coming of darkness and to acknowledge it is probably why the love persists to this day. That superstition was common amongst Northern Europe people in the old days, but these days, having something cheerier to enjoy makes more sense.
Ancient man did not necessarily fear death. It is part of the cycle of life. From that comes rebirth, and what’s celebrated is not limited to just a few cultures. How I acknowledge this occasion is to enjoy a wide range of media which recognises the transition in some way instead of being very specific to the lore. That would make for a very short list.
From horror to celebratory, I’m aiming to suggest something old and something new to read, hear or view. What I offer is something to enjoy reading, a theatrical presentation on television or a song to listen to. I’m trying very hard to not pick works that’s more about Christmas than Yule. These days, the two terms are synonymous with each other, and it makes knowing what fits into my tighter definition difficult. And thus, I begin with:
The Yule Cat (YouTube)
This live action horror film is perfect to kick off the longest night of terror. Although not set to debut until the 24th, this work makes my list since it’s Icelandic folk horror at its best, and the teaser is perfect to tense things up. This work, along with the aforementioned and coming picks for 2022.
Chilling Adventures of Sabrina “A Midwinter’s Tale”
This holiday special is perfect to get viewers into the mood of this pagan tradition. For one thing, Sabrina wants to contact ghosts, and the Spellman family is getting terrorized by Yule Tots under the guise of poltergeists. If that isn’t hair-raising enough, then perhaps this series has run its course and isn’t as memorable as I had hoped. And for readers unfamiliar with the antagonists featured in this episode, I suggest reading…
The Legend of the Icelandic Yule Lads (Amazon Link)
From Amazon’s description – The Legend of the Yule Lads is well-known among Icelanders and has been passed down from generation to generation for over 1,500 years. The country’s rich history of legends and folktales featuring a host of mystical creatures is reflected in this unique Christmas tale about trolls. However, like many of Iceland’s legends, the story of the Yule Lads is virtually unknown outside of the country. This particular story can be traced back to 13th Century and the Snorri Sturlson’s Edda.
The Return of the Light: Twelve Tales from Around the World for the Winter Solstice (Amazon Link)
This literary collection will acquaint those unfamiliar with the lore from Iceland with plenty of tales to enjoy. Carolyn McVickar Edwards does more than simply recount twelve traditional tales. Her selection comes from all over the world and reminds us why the power of transition is important.
DRAKKAR – Cold Winter’s Night (OFFICIAL VIDEO)
Although this work is not technically about the season, I love the music from this band and this choice feels appropriate to round out my list before acknowledging the more mainstream works about this season.
Looney Tunes Cartoons
Bugs Bunny’s 24-Carrot Holiday Special
Here, the gang is going to have some fun with a little “Elf Help,” a “Yuletide Taz,” another “Holiday Purrchase,” and a “Ho Ho Go!” But to start with some classic toons is “Snow Laughing Matter” to put a smile on anyone’s face instead of terror. While this work is more about Christmas, there’s no denying these toons are a fun watch on a cold winter’s night. It’s a favourite that sits right in the middle because of its accessibility; I rewatched it on Teletoon.
Inu-Oh (GKIDS, Shout! Factory)
Technically, the events don’t take place during the season as the story spans months, but I’m finding the timing of this movie’s release appropriate for the themes explored. The protagonist comes from two worlds! Although he’s regarded as a hunchback at the start, just whom he represents is a changing of the guard for the new. This movie is a rock and roll odyssey since it’ll get many viewers smiling in the end. For a better look at this excellent movie, please check out our review here.
Shrek’s Yule Log,
Gift of the Night Fury,
and Dragons: Rescue Riders: Huttsgalor Holiday
DreamWorks always has some kind of an annual special for one of their franchises. And when half these worlds are set in the past, the Yule presence is more prominent than to claim a holiday special. I’ve lumped these works together because they play with familiar ideas. The former sees various cast members resting in front of the fireplace, the second recognises why snoggletog is important, and the latter adding to the HTTYD lore with Odinyule.
From Dark Horse Comics description – Last winter solstice, the world was transformed when every Black person in America gained superpowers—powers that gave an unthinkable amount of hope, but then disappeared the following morning. Now, with only three days before the next winter solstice, the entire nation is holding its breath, waiting to see if the powers will return.
But not everyone’s been just waiting. Kesa, Quentin, and Deja—the Wallace siblings—have been planning the biggest heist in history, something that would change everything for Black people. And they are ready. All they need are those powers to kick in for 24 more hours.
Update: It seems this graphic novel might be either delayed or cancelled. It supposed to be released this month. Sadly, there’s no official updates or even a listing on Dark Horse Comics’ store website. In it’s place, I highly recommend Hellboy: The Wild Hunt Trade Paperback (Amazon Link). This tale features Hellboy involved in the celtic tradition, which is said to take place during Solstice, and here the titular character visits Irish and Arthurian (English) tradition. This story is important because it reveals Red’s past. In the scheme of the hunt, he gets caught up in the events since he’s been invited to join in that game. Little does he know that it would later lead him to discovering a past he never knew about!