Everything You Ever wanted to know about Yule but, were afraid to ask

Everything You Ever wanted to know about Yule but, were afraid to ask

Do you recognize any Christmas traditions borrowed from Yule?

The Yule midwinter feast usually lasted 12 days.

yule christmaS feast
Vikings would decorate evergreen trees with gifts such as food, carvings, and food for the tree spirits to encourage them to return in the spring.

Mistletoe combined with a mother’s tears resurrected her son, the God of Light and Goodness, in a Viking myth. The Celts believe Mistletoe possessed healing powers as well and would ward off evil spirits.

In Norse tradition, Old Man Winter visited homes to join the festivities. The Viking god, Odin was described as a wanderer with a long white beard and is considered the first Father Christmas.

old man winter
Viking children would leave their shoes out by the hearth on the eve of the winter solstice with sugar and hay for Odin’s eight-legged horse, Sleipnir.

Sleipnir. yule
Children would traipse from house to house with gifts of apples and oranges spiked with cloves and resting in baskets lined with evergreen boughs.
The Yule log was a whole tree meant to be burned for 12 days in the hearth. The Celts believed the sun stood still during the winter solstice. They thought by keeping the Yule log burning for these 12 days encouraged the sun to move, making the days longer. The largest end would be fed into the hearth, wine poured over it, and it would be lit with the remains of the previous year’s Yule log. Everyone would take turns feeding the length of timber into the fire as it burned. Letting it burn out would bring bad luck.

yule tree

AND here is a little something else:

Iceland, a tiny little island off the coast of Europe, that you probably don’t know much about—and if you do, you will probably say, “Oh wait, isn’t Iceland green and Greenland is ice?” (Thank you, Mighty Ducks). And you might have also heard that singers sometimes wear strange swan dresses to the Academy Awards.
(There is, in fact, an entire Wikipedia page dedicated to this dress).

Iceland is a magical place with a lunar-like landscape unlike any other. The sea surrounds the jagged coastline of bays and fjords; a majority of the island is a treeless moonscape of vast craters, volcanoes, hot springs, and fields of lava rock—but enough of that spiel.
While carolers start to fill the streets in America, Iceland welcomes Christmas cheer a bit differently.
In Iceland, there is not one Santa Claus that hails from the North Pole to come squeeze down chimneys and place presents under the tree. Instead, there are 13 Jólasveinarnir, or the Yule Lads in English.

mother of yule ladsyule lads

They are descendents of mountain trolls with an especially gruesome mother, Grýla, who eats children.
The mischievous creatures come down from the mountains in the 13 days leading up to Christmas and steal household times, slam doors and harass sheep. They have descriptive names that range from Gluggagægir, meaning window-peeper, and my personal favorite, Kertasníkir, or candle-stealer, who comes the night before Christmas.

The Yule Lads were once used as a scare-tactic for children to frighten them into behaving around Christmastime, but they have softened up in commercial society and are now similar to their cheerful grandfather-like counterpart. Icelandic children put their nicest shoe on their windowsill, and the Yule Lads come down from the mountains one by one each night as Christmas Eve approaches, bringing small treats just the right size to fit in their shoe. Disobedient children receive a potato.
Their pet is the ever so delightful Jólakötturinn, the Christmas Cat, whose sole purpose in life is to eat children (and sometimes adults) that do not wear a new piece of clothing on Christmas.

yule cat

This lovely gem in Icelandic folklore forces Icelanders into somewhat of a stylistic submission: you must buy the latest trend or else a gigantic cat will come and eat you.

A bit scarier than a fat man in a red suit sneaking into your home while you sleep and leaving great stuff.
Merry Christmas!!!


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