Yule: a Germanic pagan festival that's definitely not Christmas

May yule-tide give you of its best and your own heart supply the rest. Postcard sent to Mrs J. Moore, Bishop's Bridge, Farley, West Maitland, [n.d.]

Yule (also called Yuletide in England) is a 12-day holiday celebrated predominately in Germanic countries which takes place on 21st December–1st January.

Although the modern version of Yule incorporates Christian traditions, the original holiday related to Scandinavian traditions such as:

  • the Wild Hunt
  • the Norse god Odin
  • Mōdraniht or “Mothers’ Night” which takes place on the same date as Christmas Eve.

It’s important to note that Yule and Christmas as different festivals even though they are both 12 days long, have Pagan roots, and overlap between 25th December and 1st January. However, in popular culture, Yuletide is used almost like an alternative synonym (citation needed lol).

No doubt you will have seen some famous Yule traditions such as the Yule log and the Yule feast but there was also the Sonargöltr (or Yule boar) which we see in the modern Christmas ham, a Yule goat related to Thor’s goats, Tanngrisnir and Tanngnjóstr.

Now that I’ve got some of the basics out of the way, I recommend you follow some of the links below to learn more about Yule.


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