Happy Monday! It’s time for Did You Know.
You are probably familiar with the seasonal tradition of the Yule log and have likely heard the Christmas carol “Deck the Halls” lyric “troll the ancient yuletide carol.” Today, “Yule” and “Yuletide” are largely associated with Christmas, but did you know the meaning behind Yule is quite different from that of the Christmas holiday?
Yule is one of the oldest winter celebrations in the world and is celebrated on the winter solstice. There are several theories about how and why the festival was celebrated, and customs and traditions associated with Yule vary widely. But it is generally believed that Yule celebrations began as a Norse festival called jol.
The winter solstice is the first day of winter and the shortest day of the year. It is believed the Yule celebration, along with other winter solstice celebrations, was at least partially about the returning of the sun (longer days), hence the greetings about the sun shining on one favorably.
Yule became part of Christmas celebrations when Christianity spread out and the church encouraged the tribes to bring their own ways of celebrating in order to foster conversion, going so far as to sanction such things as Yule logs, wreaths, etc. Over time, things of Yule and solstice became commonplace at Christmas for most people, the exceptions being Christian churches that did and continue to reject these things because of their origins in “paganism.”
This year, Yule is Wednesday, December 21st.