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How we inherited Christmas from

THE VIKING YULE


The celebration of Yule in Scandinavia predates the Christian holiday by thousands of years

Winter Solstice, the time of the year when the days get longer and the sun begins to return was truly a cause for celebration among our ancestors in Scandinavia. Their Midwinter Feast lasted at least twelve days. So there are the twelve days of Christmas.

Most Christmas traditions are rooted deep in ancient Yule rituals, many coming from the Vikings. Historic evidence indicates that Jesus was not born on December 25, but in the Spring. Why is then Christmas celebrated on December 25? A common theory is that the Christian church designated this date as the day of Christ's birth to coincide with the Nordic Midvinter Solstice celebrations, as well as with a Roman midwinder fest called Saturnalia, in order to "facilitate" the conversion of "heathens" to Christianity.

At Midwinter, or Solstice, the Vikings honored their Asa Gods with religious rituals and feasting. They sacrificed a wild boar to Frey, the God of fertility and farming, to assure a good growing season in the coming year. The meat was then cooked and eaten at the feast. This is the origin of today's Christmas ham in Scandinavia.

During the festivities they burned a giant Sunwheel, which was put on fire and rolled down a hill to entice the Sun to return. According to one theory, this is the origin of the Christmas wreath.

Another Viking tradition was the Yulelog, a large oak log decorated with sprigs of fir, holly or yew. They carved runes on it, asking the Gods to protect them from misfortune. A piece of the log was saved to protect the home during the coming year and light next year's fire. Today, most know the Yulelog as a cake or cheese log rolled in nuts.

Even the Christmas tree goes back to pre-Christian times. The Vikings decorated evergreen trees with pieces of food and clothes, small statues of the Gods, carved runes, etc., to entice the tree spirits to come back in the spring.

Ancient myths surround the Mistletoe. The Vikings believed it could resurrect the dead, a belief based on a legend about the resurrection of Balder, God of Light and Goodness, who was killed by a mistletoe arrow but resurrected when tears of his mother Frigga turned the red mistletoe berries white.

The Yule Goat, (Swedish julbock, Finnish joulupukki, Norwegian julebukk) is one of the oldest Scandinavian Christmas symbols. Its origin is the legend about the Thundergod Thor who rode in the sky in a wagon pulled by two goats. An old custom was for young people to dress up in goat skins and go from house to house and sing and perform simple plays. They were rewarded with food and drink. The Yule Goat at one time also brought Yule gifts. This character was later replaced with "jultomten" (Santa Claus).

Our pre-Christian ancestors would dress up someone to represent Old Man Winter, who was welcomed into homes to join the festivities. Dressed in a hooded fur coat, Father Christmas traveled either by foot or on a giant white horse. Some think that this horse may have been Odin's horse Sleipnir and that Father Christmas was originally Odin, who was often depicted with a long beard. When the Vikings conquered Britain in the 8th and 9th centuries, he was introduced there and became the English Father Christmas.

Today, Viking Yule is celebrated in reconstructed Viking Villages such as Foteviken in Skåne and Jörvik in England, where visitors in December can make Christmas decorations with the Vikings, listen to Viking legends and hang their wishes in Odin's Yule Tree. Viking Yule is also celebrated by Asatruers, who revive the old Nordic religion, called Asatru.

Of course, our Scandinavian forefathers were not alone in celebrating the Winter Solstice. All over the world, and throughout history, people have celebrated the sun's return after the winter with a wide diversity of rituals and traditions. And still are.
 

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That was a very interesting read. Thank you.

I also heard a lot of the traditions we celebrate came from the hethen Druids as well.

The one I remember most is the HOLLY. It was a tree they gathered under and had an orgy to celebrate the Spring.

Try introducing THAT in your churches next Christmas pagent program...and take note of who votes YES...(smiles)
 

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I must add that I have no problem that the Christians use this as their religious holiday . I have many Christian friends and we celibrate together with no problem . It is the season for family , friends good will and giving where ever the origins may lay . No one should ever have to legitimize the reason to enjoy these things in life .
 

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Nordlander, you should check out the Icelandic Yule website for some of their Norse survival traditions. They have 14 Santa Clauses! (I mean counting the real one). One of the first fun websites I ever looked at, still going strong since the mid 90s, and still a personal favourite this time of year:


http://www.simnet.is/gardarj/yule5.htm
 

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"Our pre-Christian ancestors would dress up someone to represent Old Man Winter, who was welcomed into homes to join the festivities. Dressed in a hooded fur coat, Father Christmas traveled either by foot or on a giant white horse. Some think that this horse may have been Odin's horse Sleipnir and that Father Christmas was originally Odin, who was often depicted with a long beard. When the Vikings conquered Britain in the 8th and 9th centuries, he was introduced there and became the English Father Christmas."

--Sleipnir had 8 legs, right? Something I read recently suggested that when C Clement Moore wrote "A Night Before Christmas" he gave Santa 8 tiny reindeer with a mixed in number of pagan god's names as a little joke to himself, made in reference to the horse. He was of course a folklorist so that was probably hilarious to him.
 

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I hope this isn't stepping on this thread, but it is painfully obvious that Vikings had established trading post in North America hundreds of years before Columbus was born.
Why would that step on anyone's toes? Last I checked no one on this forum was into revisionist history.

They've found remains of outposts in Greenland and Eastern Canada. Hell, think I recall hearing about some as far south as New England.

If they want to get their toes stepped on they should read about just how horrible Columbus and his men were to the natives when they found the new world.
___________

That being said, the church assimilated hundreds of other religions, just as those religions assimilated the ones before them. It's how organized religion has been since the dawn of time.
 

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Nordlander, Odins companions were the wolf and the ravens. That's were my Christian name Wolfram Wolf-Raven came from.
Wolf
Yes Odins Ravens : Hugninn ( thought ) and Muninn ( memory ) and Fenrir the wolf and old adversary . The names are from the ancient Norse
 

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Why would that step on anyone's toes? Last I checked no one on this forum was into revisionist history.

They've found remains of outposts in Greenland and Eastern Canada. Hell, think I recall hearing about some as far south as New England.

If they want to get their toes stepped on they should read about just how horrible Columbus and his men were to the natives when they found the new world.
___________

That being said, the church assimilated hundreds of other religions, just as those religions assimilated the ones before them. It's how organized religion has been since the dawn of time.
Anse-aux-meadows http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/L'Anse_aux_Meadows in Newfoundland is a definite, scientifically proven Norse site right here in North America, perhaps the only one so far. I'm told the local people knew that for 100 or more years before academics arrived in the area, at which time the locals told them where to look to find the Viking sites.
 

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There are about as many legends about Christmas as there are presents at Walmart, . . .

Another one came from one of the early monastaries: it was believed that if a person was martyred or otherwise killed for a holy cause, . . . it could only be done on the anniversary of their conception. The folks there came up with March 25th being the exact day of Jesus crucifixion, . . . therefore if that was the anniversary of his conception, . . . his birthday had to be Dec 25th, . . . 9 months later.

Another one concerns Zacharias, . . . John Baptist's father, . . . his special order of priests only ministered in a certain time frame of the year, . . . after which he went home and impregnated his wife, . . . in her 6th month of pregnancy, . . . Mary came to help her, . . . being with child herself, . . . their math from the time frame of when Zach was burnining incense, . . . works out late December also.

I'm not one to argue when He was born, . . . just relying on the fact that HE WAS born, . . . God's own son. That's the important thing for me.

May God bless,
Dwight
 

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Anse-aux-meadows http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/L'Anse_aux_Meadows in Newfoundland is a definite, scientifically proven Norse site right here in North America, perhaps the only one so far. I'm told the local people knew that for 100 or more years before academics arrived in the area, at which time the locals told them where to look to find the Viking sites.

Im guessin you are not buying the "Vikings in Heavener" story? It was the first thing my inlaws wanted to show me when I got here, not that Im an archeologist or anything...
 

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It's not just Christmas rituals that Christianity "absorbed" into its culture.

The drinking of wine at communion and the laying of palm leaves are just two more examples.

Both taken on by the Roman Catholics. Maybe 1500+ years a Ago.

The drinking of blood was performed by roman soldiers who worshiped mars I think and the palm leaves came from a ritual involving the god Isis.
 

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Discussion Starter #19
Anse-aux-meadows http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/L'Anse_aux_Meadows in Newfoundland is a definite, scientifically proven Norse site right here in North America, perhaps the only one so far. I'm told the local people knew that for 100 or more years before academics arrived in the area, at which time the locals told them where to look to find the Viking sites.
I probably have 10 or 12 books on the subject . They have also found Runestones as far as Minnesota and up and down the east coast . The Vikings were able to navigate by using the sun . They knew at a certain latitude the sun would make a shadow consistent with the time of year . By using a circular piece of wood with a pointed stick in the middle the Vikings would trace and burn a curved arc on the disk as the sun rose and set during the day. As the sailed they kept the shadow on the arc line . They also used a sunstone which is a Calcite spar . All calcite is 11.5 degree offset . By putting a black dot on a piece of Icelandic spar Calcite and rotating it you can not only find the sun on a cloudy day but by rotating the calcite looking through it towards the sun and rotating till the two dots become one will find the true direction of the sun to 1 degree . My Father and Grandfather taught me Viking navigation when I was a kid . I have a Viking sunstone that has been in our family for at least 6 generations .
 
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I probably have 10 or 12 books on the subject . They have also found Runestones as far as Minnesota and up and down the east coast . The Vikings were able to navigate by using the sun . They knew at a certain latitude the sun would make a shadow consistent with the time of year . By using a circular piece of wood with a pointed stick in the middle the Vikings would trace and burn a curved arc on the disk as the sun rose and set during the day. As the sailed they kept the shadow on the arc line . They also used a sunstone which is a Calcite spar . All calcite is 11.5 degree offset . By putting a black dot on a piece of Icelandic spar Calcite and rotating in you can not only find the sun on a cloudy day but by rotating the calcite looking through it towards the sun and rotating till the two dots become one will find the true direction of the sun to 1 degree . My Father and Grandfather taught me Viking navigation when I was a kid . I have a Viking sunstone that has been in our family for at least 6 generations .
Some even believe they followed the Red River as far as the central US.
 
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