Eero Järnefelt (1863-1937): 'Winter Sun'
Nowadays Yule denotes the Christmas holiday season.
Examples include Jul (Sweden), Jul (Denmark), Jul (Norway), Jól (Iceland
and the Faroe Islands), and Joulu (Finland)...but jul goes way back!. The events of Yule
are generally held to have centred on Midwinter (although specific dating is a matter of debate),
and feasting, drinking, and sacrifice (blót) were involved. Scholars have connected the month
event and Yule time period to the Wild Hunt (a ghostly procession in the winter sky), the god
Odin, and increased supernatural activity, such as the aforementioned Wild Hunt and
the increased activities of draugar - undead beings who walk the earth
by Carl Emil Doepler
The earliest references to it are in the form of month names, where the Yule-tide period
lasts somewhere around two months in length, falling along the end of the modern calendar
contains numerous references to an event by the Old Norse form of the name, jól
with Christian celebrations held at the time. The saga states that when Haakon arrived in
Norway he was confirmed a Christian, but since the land was still altogether heathen and the
people retained their pagan practices, Haakon hid his Christianity to receive the help of the
'great chieftains'. In time, Haakon had a law passed establishing that Yule celebrations
were to take place at the same time as the Christians celebrated Christmas, 'and at that
time everyone was to have ale for the celebration with a measure of grain, or
else pay fines, and had to keep the holiday while the ale lasted'
Yule had previously been celebrated for three nights from midwinter night,
according to the saga. Haakon planned that when he had solidly established himself
and held power over the whole country, he would then 'have the gospel preached'.
According to the saga, the result was that his popularity caused many to allow
themselves to be baptised, and some people stopped making sacrifices
'The Dísablót', by August Malmström
A description of pagan Yule practices is provided:
'It was ancient custom that when sacrifice was to be made, all farmers were to come to the heathen temple and bring along with them the food they needed while the feast lasted. At this feast all were to take part of the drinking of ale. Also all kinds of livestock were killed in connection with it, horses also; and all the blood from them was called hlaut [ sacrificial blood ], and hlautbolli, the vessel holding the blood; and hlautteinar, the sacrificial twigs [aspergills]. These were fashioned like sprinklers, and with them were to be smeared all over with blood the pedestals of the idols and also the walls of the temple within and without; and likewise the men present were to be sprinkled with blood. But the meat of the animals was to be boiled and served as food at the banquet. Fires were to be lighted in the middle of the temple floor, and kettles hung over them. The sacrificial beaker was to be borne around the fire, and he who made the feast and was chieftain, was to bless the beaker as well as all the sacrificial meat'
The narrative continues that toasts were to be drunk. The first toast was to
be drunk to Odin "for victory and power to the king", the second to the gods Njörðr
and Freyr 'for good harvests and for peace', and thirdly a beaker was to be drunk to
the king himself. In addition, toasts were drunk to the memory of departed
kinsfolk. These were called 'minni [memorial toast]'
These four magical symbol ceramic oval ornaments will add
enchantment to your Yule tree this Winter Solstice. Clockwise from the top,
these old symbols will bless your tree; Thor's Hammer, Vegviser
Viking Compass, Vlaknut, and Aegishjamr/Helm of Awe
Purchase the ornaments here:
Mickie Mueller Studio, Etsy