22 December 2010


Most of us have heard the word "Yule" used around this time of the year. Yule or Yule-tide ("Yule-time") is a winter festival that was initially celebrated by the historical Germanic people as a pagan religious festival.

Over the centuries parts of it was absorbed into the Christian celebration of Christmas.

The original Yule was celebrated over a number of days from late December to early January, but the main day was determined by the lunar Germanic calendar.

The festival was placed on December 25 when the Christian/Julian calendar was adopted.

"Yule" is the modern English version of the Old English words ġeól (the 12-day festival of Yule") and ġeóla (the month of  Yule).

Both words are probably derived from Germanic and there are similar words in Old Norse, Danish, Swedish and Norwegia. Terms with an etymological equivalent to "Yule" are still used in the Nordic Countries for the Christian Christmas, but also for other religious holidays of the season.

Yule is also used to a lesser extent in English-speaking countries to refer to Christmas. It is more likely to be used for some of the older customs that have survived especially the Yule log (the one is the fireplace, not the modern cake!), and including the Yule feast, the Yule goat, Yule boar, and Yule singing.

Yule is still observed today as a cultural festival and also with religious rites by some Christians and by some Neopagans.

Scholars have connected the celebration to the Wild Hunt that occurred at the time of the
Winter Solstice.

Yule marks the death and the rebirth of the Sun God. The time also marks the vanquishing of the Holly King (the god of the Waning Year) by the Oak King (God of the Waxing Year). 

Modern Christmas celebrations are full of pagan symbology. Santa Claus can be seen as the Holly King. His sleight can be seen as solar chariot. The eight reindeer are the eight Sabbats and their horns represent the Horned God. The North Pole symbolizes the Land of Shadows and the dying solar year.

Yule as a "midwinter" (winter solstice) festival was celebrated by the pagan Scandinavian and Germanic people people. It was called Jul, midvinterblot, Julblot, jólablót, and julofferfest.

Yule: A Celebration of Light and Warmth
The Winter Solstice: The Sacred Traditions of Christmas
Pagan Christmas: The Plants, Spirits, and Rituals at the Origins of Yuletide
The Fires of Yule: A Keltelven Guide for Celebrating the Winter Solstice 

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