Viking Yule: How the Vikings Celebrate their Christmas

Posted by Ms Elly on

Viking Yule: How the Vikings Celebrate their Christmas

We might know that the Vikings had festivals resembling Halloween. It is the Alfablot and the Disablot. The Vikings also celebrated a festival known as Yule. The Viking Yule celebration was similar to the modern Christmas. 

In fact, customs and traditions from modern Christmas stem from the Yule celebration of the Vikings. 

Yule or Jol (pronunciation: Yoh-l) was the time between the Winter Solstice and the "Yule sacrifice" Jolablot. So this celebration was likely to last from the Winter Solstice to the 12th day of January. Generally, this celebration included drinking feasting, songs, games, banquets, and sacrifices for the gods and the ancestor spirits. 

There are similarities between the Viking Yule Celebration and the modern Christmast celebration

The Vikings had their Yule tree which inspired the later Christmas tree. The green tree was often decorated with small statues of their Norse gods, food, and clothes. They attempted to call for the spirit of the forests. 

A Yule wreath also appeared in the Yule celebration. But it was a giant wheel and the Vikings would set the big wreath on fire. They threw it down the hill to wish for the return of the Sun. It was theorized that the Yule wreath was the ancestor of the Christmas wreath on the door. 

Viking yule celebration

The Vikings welcomed the return of the Sun during their Yule festival. They also showed how grateful they were to the blessings that gods and ancestors had offered them during the year

Yule log was one of the traditions of the Viking Yule. It was a long oak with fir. They carved the runes on the oak to wish for the protection of the gods. The Vikings would save a piece of the log for next year's fire in their house. It was for the protection purpose. 

 The Yule goat was also one of the most important parts of the Viking Yule. The Viking Yule goat was related to a pair of goat belonging to Thor God of Thunder and Lightning. In Norse mythology, a pair of goat of Thor pulled the chariot through the sky making the sound of thunder. 

Yule goat in the Viking Yule celebration

The modern reconstruction of the Yule goat 

It was believed that the Viking young men often dressed the goatskin, going from house to house and singing along. In return, the young men would get a reward like food and drink. 

The Vikings had a Santa Claus for themselves, too. One person would dress himself to represent the Old Man Winter. The Vikings would always welcome the Old Man to their home and join them in the feast. He wore a hooded cloak travelling around. Sometimes he walked, sometimes he rode a horse. Many theorized that the Yule Old Man was actually Odin and the horse he was riding was Sleipnir the eight-legged horse of Odin. 

The Yule father who was usually believed as Odin the Allfather

The Yule Father was usually thought as Odin the Allfather 


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