The Julleuchter (German: YOOL-loik-ter "Yule light"), 'Yule Lantern', 'Yule Candlestick' or Turmleuchter (Tower Lantern or Tower Candlestick) is a lantern. Modern Julleuchters have the Hagall rune and a heart symbol visible on all four sides. Other examples have an Algiz rune motif instead of the heart symbol.
During Third Reich Germany, Heinrich Himmler, founder and commander of the SS, who placed great interest in Ariosophy, gave the Julleuchter as a presentation piece for SS soldiers to celebrate the winter solstice.
In modern times, the lantern sees some use by some Germanic neopagans due to the perceived ancient origins of the lantern.
The Swedish literary club Runa, which was created by Johan August Strindberg, mentioned the Julleuchter in their club magazine in 1888. The magazine describes a Julleuchter from 16th Century Holland. In 1933 Germanom F.Virtom translated “Хроник Ура-Линда”("chronicles of Hurray- Lind") and published it in the Germany which helped popularize the Julleuchter once again.
An article about the Julleuchter was published in the German magazine “Germanien” in December 1936. Pagan and cultural information, along with information about the Allach production of the Julleuchter were given. Another article was published in the SS periodical SS-Leitheft Jahrgang 7 Folge 8a about the Julleuchter and the 2 Solstice periods of the year. In 1939 the Julleuchter was also mentioned in “Die Gestaltung der Feste im Jahres und Lebenslauf in der SS-Familie”(Celebrations of the SS Family) by Fritz Weitzel.
In January 1936, the SS Porzellan Manufaktur Allach was created in Munich under the control of Heinrich Himmler. High-ranking artists were locked into contract. The program of the factory included over 240 porcelain and ceramic models. Due to a rapid expansion of the enterprise, the factory was not able to meet production, so in October 1937 a part of production was shifted to the SS-operated Allach sub camp of the Dachau concentration camp. Originally the Allach factory manufactured only art ceramic, like plates, jugs and vases, but in the war years they also produced simple utensils like ointment containers and cafeteria table-ware.
Special occasion gift items for SS supporters were also made and given away at dinner parties and other events. Starting from 1941 German civilians and about 50 prisoners of the Allach sub camp of the Dachau concentration camp were employed with production of art and porcelain. The Allach sub camp of Dachau remained the main location for fine porcelain manufacture even after the original factory in the town of Allach was modernized and reopened. The factory in the town of Allach was instead retrofitted for the production of ceramic products such as household pottery. The fall of the Third Reich brought an end to the Allach concern. The Allach factories were shut down in 1945 and never reopened.
Allach was a sub-camp of the Dachaucamp, located approximately 10 miles from the main camp. According to Marcus J. Smith, who wrote "Dachau: The Harrowing of Hell," the Allach camp was divided into two enclosures, one for 3,000 Jewish inmates and the other for 6,000 non-Jewish prisoners. Smith was a doctor in the US military, assigned to take over the care of the prisoners after the liberation. He wrote that the typhus epidemic had not reached Allach until April 22, 1945, about a week before the camp was liberated.
Allach porcelain made a variety of candle holders ranging from elaborate gilded baroque candelabras, to the most basic plain white porcelain single candle holder. Production numbers for most candleholders were above average for other Allach items, indicating popularity and interest among the German people. The varying styles and cost of the candleholders produced at Allach allowed most Germans of every class to own them.
The Allach Julleuchter was unique in that it was made as presentation piece for SS officers to celebrate the winter solstice. It was later given to all SS members on the same occasion, December 21st. Made of unglazed stoneware, the Julleuchter was decorated with early pagan Germanic symbols. Himmler said, “I would have every family of a married SS man to be in possession of a Julleuchter. Even the wife will, when she has left the myths of the church find something else which her heart and mind can embrace.”During WW2 Julleuchters were also used at SS wedding ceremonies, and some were given to family members of SS soldiers that were killed in action. Production numbers in 1939 alone were a staggering 52,635, certainly a record for any single item produced at the Porzellan Manufaktur Allach. The modeling workshop of the clinker plant in Neuengamme concentration camp may have also produced around 15,116 in 1943.
"Many Allach Julleuchters bear a six-dot pattern on one side. It is believed this signature was used by one particular artist working at the Allach factory. Typically the Julleuchter has the entwined SS Runes impressed into one base leg.
"The entwined sig runes mark was an SS proof mark to denote that the item met with the quality and, more importantly, artistic design standards of the SS. That's why it appeared on swords, daggers etc. The runes are not an Allach mark, just a quality mark. It meant that the item in question was considered to be suitably Germanic. Items produced at Allach often (but not always) had the word Allach under the runes. Items produced in other SS factories had other marks, such as the Bohemia Works in occupied Czechoslovakia, which had the runes inside a large letter B. That mark is very rare.
A 1936 issue of Germanien magazine claimed that the "millennium old" lantern had been used as a memento of the "Year of the Great Migrations" of the people of the north and as the small light of humanity under the stars of the night sky. When used during the 2 Solstice periods of the year, this is a symbol of the victory of Light over the Darkness, and also as a token of Eternal Circulation. The Julleuchter stands for an inseparable community, its conscious and attitude, and that it was used as a symbol of never ending sunlight. Further, the magazined stated that when the Julleuchter was used during the holiday of Yule(what is now known as The 12 Days of Christmas), twelve candles are used. One is used each night symbolizing the twelve months, until the 31 of December when the "July Moon shines." On that night a thirteenth candle is used for the new coming month of January. The candles always burn below but on the last night, the candle is again transferred upward- this is the sun, which is spilled in order to return to the earth from the gloom of another peace.
"We celebrate Yuletide in the evening, not in the morning. Yuletide is the feast of the newborn light and the renewing life. Therefore it is the feast of the commemoration of the birth of the child, of thanks to the mother, of good wishes for the growth of the whole Folk. The reason for our giving presents at Yuletide is to show respect to other members of our Folk for the part they play in its continued existence.
In Germany Yuletide is thus a feast for both the closer and the wider family, tending to exclude outsiders but for which a long lost son or one living far away is always welcome to return. The presents, which are valuable only to the extent that the giver has worked on them, are put under the tree secretly by the father. When everything is ready, the family gathers in the adjoining room for the evening meal. The table should be festive and laid with care. This is the start of the Yuletide celebration. The meal should be substantial, with a main course of carp, goose, boar or hare. These animals have been eaten at the Yuletide meal traditionally and should never be replaced by other food.
Not only the presents but the whole celebration should be full of surprises for all members of the family. The father lights the candle in the Jul-Leuchter, or ‘Jul Earthenware Candlestick’, from which the tree candles in turn get their light. On the tree should be 13 (representing 12 months plus the 13th renewing) or 27 (three lunar weeks each with nine days) candles. Three adjacent candles should remain unlit. He then calls his wife, children and any other family members into the room using a little bell. As they admire the tree he lights the last three candles and says:
This light should burn for our ancestors who are with us tonight. This light should burn for my dead comrades from the War. This light should burn for our millions of German brothers all over the world, who all celebrate Yuletide with us tonight.
After this all should sing the song ‘O Yuletide Tree, How Green Are Your Branches’, without which the Yuletide Celebration is unthinkable, and open the presents. The evening should be quiet and sincere. At the appointed time the family will listen to the Yuletide address of the Deputy Führer, feeling through it a bond that reaches out to encompass the whole Folk of German brothers. During the evening the family photographs should be shown, old family stories told, and the results of research into the family history exchanged. New Year’s Eve and the Jul-Leuchter Yuletide Eve is followed by the Twelve Sacred Days, important feast days for our ancestors during which no one worked. Wotan and his Army of the Dead were said to ride through the air; and Frigga, or Lady Holle, led the Army of the Unborn above the heads of the Folk. We should light the candles on the tree as often as possible during these days. During the night of New Year’s Eve the celebrations reach another pinnacle. The happenings of Yuletide are repeated, and again we say good-bye to the old and look hopefully to the future.
The last evening of the year is a very happy time. The children have bought small fireworks and have their own fun. Mother fetches the spoon for the casting of the lead, which only ever should be used for this purpose. The lead is melted on the spoon and cast into a bowl of cold water. The resulting figures and shapes foretell the future. Greeting cards are sent to distant relatives. Punch fills the house with its aroma, and the evening meal is as grand as the one at Yuletide.
The Jul-Leuchter, presented by Reichsführer-SS Himmler to the SS Man, is the most important symbol used throughout the year to mark celebrations and commemorations. Its cut-out Heart represents hearth and home, and the Hagal Rune peace through victory.
At midnight, when the candles on the Yuletide Tree are burnt down, the SS Man will put the Jul- Leuchter on the table. The Candlestick with its year-long candle has been lit at every family celebration the past year. Its candle has burned down, and it should receive a new one tonight. Just as our ancestors never let the sacred hearth cooking fire extinguish, so our Jul-Leuchter must always have a light. Thus it becomes a symbol of the never dying sunlight. Everyone becomes very thoughtful when the old candle finally burns down and the new one is put in its place.
A description of how and when the Julleuchter is used is given by Khaynrikh Shil’d in "Светильник Йоля"(Lamp of Yolya). The information about how the Julleuchter is used during the Winter Solstice is almost the same as the one given in the December 1936 Germanien magazine. The origin of this information, if from actual pagan information or Third Reich Germany, could be subject to debate. Despite the controversy some tend to believe this description to genuine regarding the use of the Julleuchter.
"During the Vernal Equinox, the holiday of Ostary (Ostara-Feier) which symbolizes the revival of the sun, a candle is lit in the lower part of the Julleuchter and is then transferred to the upper position. During the Summer Solstice (Mittsommer-Feier) the holiday that symbolizes the sun, which entered the total force (god of bal’dura). A candle only burns at the top of the Julleuchter. During the Autumnal Equinox or Autumnal Ting (Herbst-Thing) the holiday which symbolizes the beginning of niskhozhdeniya of the sun in the worlds of other. A candle is lit at the top of the Julleuchter and transferred downward. During the Winter Equinox, the holiday of Yol, twelve candles are used. One is used each night symbolizing the twelve months, until the 31 of December. On that night a thirteenth candle is used for the new coming month of January. The candles always burn below but on the last night, the candle is again transferred upward.
Although due to Christianization and the association with Nazi Germany the symbol has either been forgotten or perceived as associated with Nazism, the Julleuchter has experienced a rebirth in forms of Germanic Neopaganism. Today some Neopagan individuals use the lantern and newly crafted Julleuchters may be purchased from various websites. There is also a belief that the Julleuchter is connected to Freyja and that the Julleuchter would hold a flame of the foddik or Need-fire, making it a “ken”, a sacred torch used for consecration and as an invocational beacon to the gods. “The heart here represents the bosom of life, more so than it does the cardiac muscle.” “This Hagal rune below it, from the younger Futhark, is the rune which literally represents hail and can be seen as a metaphor for the both destructive and generative (life-giving water as it melts) aspects of it, embodying the concept of the eternal return and the thought that creation is only possible through destruction. Some have also seen this six-spoked rune as a representation of the yearly cycle.”