Yule celebrations in ancient Scandinavia
-HOW VIQUEENS AND VIKINGS CELEBRATED YULETIDE A THOUSAND YEARS AGO
THE OLD NORSE WORD YULE
What else do the thousand-year-old poems, inscriptions, and scrolls reveal? Personally, I find it interesting that the Norse god Odin is also known as Júlfadr, the Yule father. In fact, the whole month preceding the midwinter solace is named Ylir in Old Norse, meaning Yule month. None of the Scandinavian languages, including Icelandic, have adopted a Christian name for the festivities during this time of the year but unanimously kept the Old Norse word jól/jul/júl.
THE ANCIENT YULE FESTIVITIES
THE NORSE GOD THOR AND HIS (YULE) GOATS
The darkest winter month was nevertheless a time when the borders between the realms were weakened. To safeguard oneself one should offer gifts to the powers protecting us: ancestors, protective spirits and other deities. One of the more famous Norse gods, Thor, was the one protecting the realms from destructive and chaotic forces. Apart from his hammer, Thor is known for the two goats that pull his chariot - and one thousand years later most Swedish households have a Yule goat made of straw standing by the Christmas tree. So, perhaps Thor and his goats played some part in the Yule festivities, possibly in the role of protectors until the return of the goddess Sun.
Celebrations – just as legends and stories – are great ways to connect with our history, our foremothers and our forefathers. Even if we don’t celebrate the merriments in the exact same manner as they might have done, there are still more things connecting them to us than not. Ultimately, Yule is about the same things today as it was a thousand years ago: family, friends, festivities and – if you live here in the north - finding light enough until the return of the sun.
I wish you all god jul!
 Hrafnsmál, by Torbjørn Hornklove (a 9th-century Norwegian skald)