Yule was the winter solstice celebration of the Germanic pagans still celebrated by Ásatrúar.
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.