The Battle of the Holly King & the Oak King

Many consider December to mark the final big holiday of the year before the new harvest begins. 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 the Winter Solstice. marking the end of Winter including a tale of the battle between the Holly and Oak King; telling the tale of how their seasonal battle reflects the changing of the seasons with the transition from Winter to Summer and then Summer to Winter.

The Holly King Many associate this king with Santa Claus 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. He is the dark king, ruler of the colder half of the year and is the victor of the battle when held on Midsummer.

The Holly King

The Holly King


His reign runs 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 making the weather 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 Summer Solstice ruling until Yule. He represents the end of the dark season and the rebirth of Spring. On New Year’s Eve, we make resolutions or promises of changes we hope to receive in the new year.

The Summer Solstice

The Summer Solstice


The Oak King brings in the first day of Spring and awakens the animals and forests from their Winter slumber. He starts the harvest season marking the start of new life in nature.

The Legend

These brothers who appear as rivals are opposites cut from the same coin, meet on the battlefield for Midsummer and again during Yule. On these days, both kings prepare with large feasts and celebrations. The feasts are attended by creatures and spirits that represent their seasons and enjoy the final hour of their rule.

Then on the hours of Yule and Midsummer when the sun sets, they exchange blows. Each dying at the hands of the other. On Yule, the Holly King is defeated and placed in his chambers until the Summer Solstice, where the Oak King is victorious.

The Wheel of the Year

The Wheel of the Year


The 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, the Winter Solstice and the Summer Solstice, are special times when the fae visit the human world, making some wonder if these two immortal kings belong to their court. The myth explains the change from the two opposites of Winter and Summer, adding a fantasy vibe to what we consider to be the cycle of the seasons.

Now. shush, I’m trying to read, Luna

#Yule #SummerSolstice #TheHollyKing #WinterSolstice #Midsummer #Wicca #TheOakKing

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