Yule is the ancient name in the Germanic lunar calendar for a winter festival corresponding to December and January. Later, Yule referred to the twelve-day holiday associated with the Feast of the Nativity after the widespread adoption of Christianity through Northern Europe.
The word has Gothic origins, but English speakers are most familiar with Yule through associations dating to its original use. For example, the Yule log, as in the lyric “See the blazing Yule before us,” was originally a real tree limb or trunk, but now makes an appearance at Christmastime as a cake shaped like a log.
“Yule” also carries associations with a farm animal. The Yule goat carried Father Christmas on his back and is a symbol of Christmas throughout Scandinavian countries. The Yule goat may have associations tracing back to Norse mythology. The now-famous comic book god Thor rode in a chariot pulled by two goats that could also be eaten and magically regenerate into living creatures again.
Most Americans associate Yuletide with singing carols, a tradition in Northern Europe, also known as wassailing.
Reacting to your “Yule” definition link, I am responding to your blurb re: the Nordic / Germanic origins. I take exception to your explanation as follows:
THOR, albeit a minor 20th century comic book character, should not be noted as such in your explanation but rather as the senior mythological Norse god he was (akin to the Roman and Greek mythological heroes on which our language and, to some extent culture, are loosely based). Being Swedish (Canadian)I can speak to this issue legitimately.
Stop pandering to the “under 22″ crowd. They should have gone to school and understood this without a commercial (rather than cultural) reference.
Still LUV your site.
I’m amazed that the religion which celebrates Yule was not even mentioned. It’s akin to writing an article about Christmas and not mentioning Christianity. Yule is one of the eight sabbats (holidays) found in Wicca. It appears to me that the author of this article has little knowledge of the religious significance of this sabbat.
Messing with norse mythology again. Thor’s goats, the ones that pull his chariot, have nothing to do with the “boar” that regenerates itself in order to endlessly feed the warrios at Valhalla.
Appart from little mistakes here and there, I like The Hot Word a lot.
Walt Kelly, who drew the comic strip, Pogo, in the 50’s gave us this take on the Christmas song, Deck the Halls.
Deck us all with Boston Charlie,
Walla Walla, Wash., an’ Kalamazoo!
Nora’s freezin’ on the trolley,
Swaller dollar cauliflower alley-garoo!
Don’t we know archaic barrel
Lullaby Lilla Boy, Louisville Lou?
Trolley Molly don’t love Harold,
Boola boola Pensacoola hullabaloo!
The word for Christmas in Scandinavian languages is “jul”, which is pronounced very much like English “yule”. It’s historically the same word as yule.
[...] Yule “Never walk alone” if you’re schizophrenic. — Some never using spell check makes us typoallergenic. — So “Deck the Halls” and Wassail too and burn the log we may get through. — Don’t drink too much or get Yule goat. — Merry Xmas — that’s all we wrote. –>>Rupert L.T.Rhyme [...]
Yule is the Pagan and Wiccan Holiday. It is beleived that the God figure is born of the Mother Goddess and is represented by the sun coming back to earth.
I have a pair of red straw yule goats from Ikea as part of my Christmas decor. I put them up every year but never knew the whole story on them Thanks for the info and Merry Christmas, Dictionary.com family!
Yule is also considered by some to be equivalent to the Winter Solstice. Celebrations by a solar calendar pre-date many religions, and the shortest day of the year certainly would have been cause for celebrations for those who lived off of the land and didn’t have central heating.
Seems odd to refer to the ‘Yule goat’ without mentioning Capricorn.
Yule is also a Pagan Holiday.
What does the “leaf” symbol represent in conjunction with Yule?
no update due to Christmas?
Yule get fat if you eat all of that.
A yule cake is so called a roll cake. I would stay away from it for a while.
Hey, MrE, are you a sub at Trickum Middle school? Cause if you are, I might know you, since my sister goes there, and she talks about a guy named Mr. E alllll the time! Oh, and, LOVE the joke!
Now I know where the Yule ball in Harry Potter came from! Since it’s in November, I think? I dunno, I haven’t read the series in a while. Which reminds me: I’m gonna go search for the first book so I can read it for the 7th time! Bye!
Definitely has Pagan origins..as RC and Chris pointed out, it is the celebration of the sun (or the god figure) being born or returning after winter – hence the significance of the winter solstice. Interesting that today’s christians have no clue as to where half of their religious traditions or “holy” days originate from.
Actually Thor’s two goats could be eaten and regenerated in the morning as long as he retains their bones.
Thor’s goats were Tanngnjóstr and Tanngrisnir. They don’t have much to do with yule (or ‘jul’ in Scandinavian languages) other than that people in Sweden once used to dress up as yule goats (‘julbockar’), knock on people’s doors and leave gifts, the origin of the Christmas present. Yule’s origins has nothing to do with this silly American ‘wiccan’ thing. Yule is the feast of the midwinter solstice. In Sweden it is all about eating porc and getting drunk, just as it was a thousand years ago (the family pig was ready for slaughter about that time a year). Some Christian traditions have been added, but they are just an excuse to continue the celebration.
“Swede” is pretty much spot on…