Yule the origin of Christmas

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Yule the origin of Christmas

Post by Grimork » Mon Dec 13, 2021 7:40 pm

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As early as two thousand years before Christ Yule-tide was celebrated by the Aryans. They were sun-worshipers and believed the sun was born each morning, rode across the upper world, and sank into his grave at night.

Day after day, as the sun's power diminished, these primitive people feared that he would eventually be overcome by darkness and forced to remain in the under world.

When, therefore, after many months, he apparently wheeled about and grew stronger and stronger, they felt that he had been born again. So it came about that at Hweolor-tid, "the turning-time," there was great rejoicing at the annual re-birth of the sun.

In the myths and legends of these, our Indo-European ancestors, we find the origin of many of the Yule-tide customs now in vogue.

According to the Younger Edda, Wodin or Odin, the pioneer of the North, a descendant of Saturn, fled out of Asia. Going through Russia to Saxland (Germany), he conquered that country and left one of his sons as ruler. Then he visited Frankland, Jutland, Sweden, and Norway and established each one of his many sons on a throne.

This pioneer traveler figures under nearly two hundred different names, and so it is difficult to follow him in his wanderings. As Wodin, he established throughout the northern nations many of the observances and customs common to the people of the Northland to-day.

The Edda gives an ancient account of Balder, the sun-god, who was slain because of the jealousy of Loki (fire). Loki knew that everything in nature except the mistletoe had promised not to injure the great god Balder. So he searched for the mistletoe until he found it growing on an oak-tree "on the eastern slope of Valhalla." He cut it off and returned to the place where the gods were amusing themselves by using Balder as a target, hurling stones and darts, and trying to strike him with their battle-axes. But all these weapons were harmless. Then Loki, giving the twig of mistletoe to the blind god, Höder, directed his hand and induced him to throw it. When the mistletoe struck Balder it pierced him through and through and he fell lifeless.

"So on the floor lay Balder dead; and round
Lay thickly strewn swords, axes, darts, and spears,
Which all the Gods in sport had idly thrown
At Balder, whom no weapon pierced or clove;
But in his breast stood fixt the fatal bough
Of mistletoe, which Lok the Accuser gave
To Höder, and unwitting Höder threw—
'Gainst that alone had Balder's life no charm."
From Matthew Arnold's "Balder Dead."

Great excitement prevailed among the assembled gods and goddesses when Balder was struck dead and sank into Hel, and they would have slain the god of darkness had it not occurred during their peace-stead, which was never to be desecrated by deeds of violence. The season was supposed to be one of peace on earth and good-will to man. This is generally attributed to the injunction of the angels who sang at the birth of Christ, but according to a much older story the idea of peace and good-will at Yule-tide was taught centuries before Christ.

[3]Hel or "his grave"; the terms were once synonymous.

According to the Edda, gifts from the gods and goddesses were laid on Balder's bier and he, in turn, sent gifts back from the realm of darkness into which he had fallen. However, it probably is from the Roman Saturnalia that the free exchange of presents and the spirit of revelry have been derived.

The Druids held the mistletoe in great reverence because of its mysterious birth. When the first new growth was discovered it was gathered by the white-robed priests, who cut it from the main bough with a golden sickle never used for any other purpose.

The food peculiar to this season of rejoicing has retained many features of the feasting recorded among the earlier people. The boar made his appearance in mythological circles when one was offered as a gift to Frey, god of rain, sunshine, and the fruits of the earth. This boar was a remarkable animal; he could run faster than a horse, through the air and over water. Darkness could not overtake him, for he was symbolical of the sun, his golden bristles typifying the sun's rays.

At one time the boar was believed to be emblematical of golden grain, as he was the first to teach mankind the art of plowing. Because of this service he was most revered by our mythological ancestors.

In an account of a feast given in Valhalla to the dead heroes of many battles, Saehrimnir, a sacred boar, was served. Huge pieces were apportioned to the deceased heroes and the meat had such a revivifying effect that, restored to life, they called for arms and began to fight their battles over again.

An abundance of heavenly mead made from goats' milk and honey was provided for the feasts and on occasions ale, too, was served.

Toasts were usually drunk in honor of Bragi, god of poetry, eloquence, and song. The gods pledged themselves to perform remarkable deeds of courage and valor as they tossed off horn after horn of mead and ale. Each time their mighty valor grew until there was no limit set to their attainments. It is possible that their boastful pledges may have given rise to the term, to brag.

Apples were the favorite fruit, as they prevented the approach of age and kept the gods and goddesses perpetually young and vigorous.

Certainly Yule-tide was a very merry season among the ancient people who feasted, drank, and danced in honor of the return of the sun, the god of light and new life.

Source: Pringle, Mary Poague, and Clara A Urann. Yule-Tide in Many Lands. 1916.

More can be read here about old Yule traditions in different European countries and early America https://www.gutenberg.org/ebooks/18570

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Re: Yule the origin of Christmas

Post by White Man 1 » Tue Dec 14, 2021 8:03 am

Among my favorite of Yule traditions are those of the Welsh. They dress up costumed in a horse's skull and challenge their neighbors to find excuses (in poetry) why they can't come in. When the neighbor fails, they are free to come raid the icebox and drink their beer!

https://welearnwelsh.com/blog/welsh-chr ... mari-lwyd/
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Thomas S NJ
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Re: Yule the origin of Christmas

Post by Thomas S NJ » Tue Dec 14, 2021 11:12 am

White Man 1 wrote:
Tue Dec 14, 2021 8:03 am
Among my favorite of Yule traditions are those of the Welsh. They dress up costumed in a horse's skull and challenge their neighbors to find excuses (in poetry) why they can't come in. When the neighbor fails, they are free to come raid the icebox and drink their beer!
Well, if any of our fine Folk here decide they want a taste of my homebrewed German ales, I'm happy to be short of excuses!

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