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Yule



Yule was the winter solstice celebration of the Germanic pagans still celebrated by Ásatrúar.
It is also one of the eight solar holidays, or sabbats, of Neopaganism.
In modern Neopaganism, Yule is celebrated on the winter solstice: in the northern hemisphere, circa December 21, and in the southern hemisphere, circa June 21.
"Yule" and "Yuletide" are also archaic terms for Christmas, sometimes invoked in songs to provide atmosphere.
Indeed, this is the only meaning of "Yule" accepted by either the full Oxford English Dictionary or the Concise Oxford Dictionary,
and people unfamiliar with ancient pagan traditions will not distinguish between Yule and Christmas.
This usage survives in the term "Yule log"; it may also persist in some Scottish dialects.
Of the contested origin of Jól, one likely connection is to Old Norse hjól, 'wheel,' to identify the moment when the wheel of the year is at its lowpoint, ready to rise again.
Other linguists suggest that the connection is fortuitous, and that Jól has been inherited by Germanic languages from a pre-Indo-European substrate language.
In the Scandinavian Germanic languages, the term Jul covers both Yule and Christmas, and is also occasionally used to denote other holidays in December, e.g., "jødisk jul" or "judisk jul" for Hanukkah.
The word "jul" has also been borrowed into the neighboring Finnic languages, most notably to Finnish and Estonian (where it has been modified to "joulu" and "jõul" , respectively, and denotes Christmas in modern usage), although the Finnic languages have a linguistic origin different from Germanic languages.

It is certain is that Yule celebrations at the winter solstice predate Christianity, and though there are numerous references to Yule in the Icelandic sagas, there are few accounts of how Yule was actually celebrated, beyond the fact that it was a time for feasting. 'Yule-Joy', with dancing, continued through the Middle Ages in Iceland, but was frowned upon when the Reformation arrived.
It is, however, known to have included the sacrifice of a pig for the god Freyr, a tradition which survives in the Scandinavian Christmas ham.
The confraternities of artisans of the 9th century, whichdeveloped into the medieval guilds, were denounced by Catholic clergy for their "conjurations" when they swore to support one another in coming adversity and in business ventures.
The occasions were annual banquets on December 26, feast day of the pagan god Jul, when it was possible to couple with the
spirits of the dead and with demons that returned to the surface of the earth... Many clerics denounced these conjurations as being not only a threat to public order but also, more serious in their eyes, satanic and immoral.
Hincmar, in 858, sought in vain to Christianize them" (Rouche 1987, p. 432).
Many of the symbols associated with the modern holiday of Christmas such as the burning of the Yule log, the eating of ham, the hanging of boughs, holly, mistletoe, etc. are apparently derived from traditional northern European Yule celebrations. When the first missionaries began converting the Germanic peoples to Christianity, they found it easier to simply provide a Christian reinterpretation for popular feasts such as Yule and allow the celebrations themselves to go on largely unchanged, rather than trying to suppress them.


     

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