Yule or Yuletide (“Yule time” or “Yule season”) is a celebration generally adopted by the Germanic peoples. Yule is a Germanic Winter festival that was praised on the Winter solstice and ran for around 2 months. This year Yulefest falls on Monday, 21st (Winter Solstice) and closures on Friday, January 1st, 2021 (New Year).
In the Northern Hemisphere, we mark the start of winter with the Winter Solstice. Since Yule happens upon the arrival of the Winter Solstice, Yule additionally commences the winter season in the Northern Hemisphere.
In modern times, this holiday has been reformulated by Christians and renamed Christmastide. Albeit a large portion of the elements of this holiday was absorbed into Christmas traditions, numerous neopagans and Wiccans have resurrected the holiday.
Today, in numerous Nordic nations (and Estonia) Yule is another word for Christmas, and the associations between the two are clarified intensive the strength of specific traditions, activities, and decor, such as singing carols, making a Christmas ham, and decorating a Yule log.
Researchers have associated the original celebrations of Yule to the Wild Hunt, the god Odin, and the pagan Anglo-Saxon Mōdraniht.
Later leaving from its pagan roots, Yule went through Christianised reformulation, bringing about the term Christmastide. Some present-day Christmas customs and traditions, for example, the Yule log, Yule goat, Yule boar, Yule singing, and others may have associations with older pagan Yule traditions.
Terms with an etymological identical to Yule are as yet used in Nordic nations and Estonia to portray Christmas and different celebrations happening throughout the winter holiday season. Today, Yule is praised in Heathenry and different types of Neopaganism, as well as in LaVeyan Satanism.
What is Yule?
Yule comes from a name for a 12-day celebration, celebrated by Germanic peoples, around the winter solstice in December and January. By the 900s (truly, that long ago), yule was at that point mapped on the Christian celebration of Christmas and its surrounding festivities.
Yule is an indigenous winter festival celebrated by the Germanic peoples. The soonest references to it are as month names, where the Yule-tide period lasts somewhere near two months, falling along with the finish of the modern calendar year between what is presently mid-November and early January.
The word yule creates from the geōl, with cousin forms in such other Germanic languages as Old Norse and Gothic. English speakers are generally acquainted with yule through associations dating to its original use.
For instance, the yule log, as in the lyric “See the blazing yule before us,” was initially a real tree limb or trunk burnt on the hearth, yet now shows up at Christmastime as a cake formed like a log.
Yule likewise carries a relationship with a farm animal. The Yule goat carried Father Christmas on his back and is a symbol of Christmas all through Scandinavian nations.
The Yule goat may have associations following back to Norse mythology. The now-famous comic book god Thor rode in a chariot pulled by two goats that could likewise be eaten and mystically recovered into living animals once more.
Yule is a traditional holiday holding establishes in different northern European traditions, especially that of the pre-Christian Germanic people groups. At the point when the days grew colder and the nights grew longer, individuals of antiquated times would light candles and accumulate around fires to draw back the sun. They would bring out their stores of food and appreciate feasting and festivities.
Dances were danced and songs were sung and all would thoroughly enjoy decorating their homes. Such were the Yule traditions of those times—traditions like what we call Christmas (Yule, at last, went through Christianised reformulation).
Otherwise called Jul, Yule originates before the Christmas holiday by a great many years. Linguists debate the beginning of the origin of the word Yule. Some recommend the word is derived from “Iul,” the Anglo-Saxon word for wheel. This makes an association with a Celtic calendar, the Wheel of the Year. In any case, in the Norse culture, “Jul” refers to the god, Odin. Odin was celebrated during Yule too.
Yule celebrations included bonfires, designing with holly, mistletoe, and the boughs of evergreen trees, ritual sacrifices, feasts, and gift-giving.
While we observe the winter solstice around the globe, Germanic cultures of northern and western Europe essentially observed Yule. At the midpoint of winter, they celebrated the rebirth of the sun and the light it would bring to the Earth.
What is Yuletide?
Christmas can refer to December 25 itself, however, it can likewise refer to the entire Christmas season. Different terms for the Christmas season are Christmastime and Christmastide, where tide refers to an old term signifying “a season or period in the course of the year, day, etc” (In the Christian church, tide generally has a stricter feeling of “a sense of “a period of time that includes and follows an anniversary, festival, etc.”)
Yule can work a similar way: yule can refer to both Christmas and the more extensive Christmas season, which can likewise be called yuletide. That equivalent tide, “season, period,” is at play here.
Thus, you can call “Christmas” yule and “Christmastime” yuletide, however, you wouldn’t call “Christmas Day” itself yuletide.
Numerous Americans partner yuletide with singing songs, a tradition otherwise called wassailing.
Yule Customs and Celebrations
The fundamental component of any Yule celebration was the Yule log. This tree would be eliminated the Winter solstice and fed into the fireplace – and this was managed without chopping it into pieces! No, the top of the tree would be fed into the fireplace and throughout the next 2 months, increasingly more would be pushed in as the winter advanced. This would become the premise of the Yule log or Christmas block as it is known today.
Another custom of Yule was getting different plants to “guard” their life essence. This was a type of sympathetic magic in which practitioners believed they could harness this life force for themselves. Some of the plants that were brought into the home included evergreen boughs, holly, ivy, birch boughs, and mistletoe.
Sonargöltr was another aspect of old Yule customs. It highlighted a wild boar that was sacrificed and eaten. It is the premise of a significant number of the Christmas feasts practiced today, besides rather than a wild boar, a ham is served today.
Modern neopagan feasts frequently consolidate foods, for example, pork, turkey, eggnog, fruits, nuts, and cider-soaked cakes into their feasts.
In modern Germanic language-speaking zones and some other Northern European nations, historical cognates to English yule indicate the Christmas holiday season. Examples incorporate Jul in Sweden, Denmark, and Norway, jól in Iceland and the Faroe Islands, joulu in Finland, Joelfest in Friesland, Joelfeest in the Netherlands, and jõulud in Estonia.
Traditions and Symbols of Yule
- Feasts of Fools
Feasts of Fools were celebrations for Yule that the church frowned upon because they included loud dancing, feasting, and fun. The etiquette was not that which the church thought about appropriate for the time. These celebrations were the individuals’ method of defying the church’s iron fist of control.
These celebrations were a lot like modern Mardi Gras festivities. They persevered in numerous parts of Europe well into the 17th century, despite the church’s best exertion to end them.
- Gift Giving
Giving gifts for the winter holidays didn’t start with Christmas. This custom started with Yule in antiquated times. Some of the original gifts were not given starting with one individual then onto the next yet were rather offerings to appease the winter deities. Individuals made contributions to the winter gods and goddesses to quit freezing climate, prevent famine, and so forth.
Individuals generally gifted each other with talismans or charms to offset risk or guarantee safe travel. In Rome, it was standard to give gifts of palm branches, honeyed sweetmeat, and figs or dates. Gilded fruits, coins, and bronze or terra cotta lamps were additionally regular gifts at this time, particularly to one’s patrons, emperors, or different authorities.
- Yule Log
Generally, the Yule log was produced using oak. Nonetheless, a Yule log made of ash was thought to bring good luck and insight.
To get ready for the Yule log ceremony, the house must be cleansed and blessed. Generally, it was the women’s duty to do the cleansing of the home. While the ladies were cleansing, the oldest or most senior man of the household would look for the right log to use.
The lighting of the log occurred on solstice eve. On the off chance that they could light it using a bit of a year ago’s log as kindling, that was the ideal method to light the fire. In the wake of lighting the Yule log, they watched it throughout the evening, recounting stories and making wishes and toasts over it.
- Evergreens for Yule: Symbols of Renewal
Evergreens were cut and brought inside to represent life, rebirth, and renewal. They were thought to have control over death because their green never faded, and they were used to defeat winter demons and keep down death and destruction. Due to their strength and tenacity, they were additionally believed to support the Sun’s return.
- Yule Symbol of Hope: Holly
Holly, which represents the masculine element, was regularly used to decorate doors, windows, and fireplaces. Due to its prickliness, it was thought to capture or avoid evil spirits before they could enter a home and cause hurt. The holly leaves, symbolic of the Holly King, represent hope, while the red berries represent potency.
- Yule Traditions: Mistletoe
Mistletoe, which represents the female element, additionally holds a lot of significance as it was used by Druid priests in special ceremonies throughout the Winter Solstice. They believed that its green leaves represented the fertility of the Mother Goddess, and its white berries, the seed of the Forest God or Oak King.
- Yule Tree: An Important Pagan Symbol
The Yule Tree was additionally another significant symbol in pagan tradition. Initially, it represented the Tree of Life or the World Tree among early pagans.
- To Honor and Protect: The Yule Log
The custom of burning the Yule Log started with the antiquated Scandinavians who burned a tremendous log, felled from an Ash tree, to honor their god Thor. In the Celtic custom, a continual hearth fire was kept to keep spirits from entering the home.
- Candles and Lights
This is the celebration of light out of the darkness and the tradition of lighting candles is ever popular. Red, green, and the gold of the Returning Sun are the colors of Yule. Deck your home and special stepped area with evergreens and candles.
- The Wreath
It was traditional to make wreaths from evergreen – the Wheel of Life as evergreen. These were hung on doors or laid horizontally and decorated with candles – later becoming the Christian Advent Wreath.
Because of COVID-19 health concerns, there will be not many in-person Yule celebrations this year. Notwithstanding, numerous coordinators have moved their events online so nobody needs to miss out on Yule celebrations as a result of the pandemic and shelter-in-place orders.
A quick Google search for “Yule 2020 virtual event,” will uncover your numerous options for virtual celebrations and festivals to go to all through December to observe Yule securely from your home.