To further my obsession with Vikings, I’d like to share a few Old Norse customs that are still celebrated. Yule was celebrated in Northern Europe long before Christians suffered from Vikings raids. During Yule the gods were thanked for bringing back the sun and made offering for a good harvest. Although Yule is a no longer an institutionalize celebration, it’s customs have been adopted by many of us.
Here are a few Yule traditions we still have.
Freya, the Norse goddess of fertility, was associated with boars. To ensure a good harvest in the Spring, pigs were sacrificed and eaten at the Yule feast.
Wheels have been a powerful symbol in every culture. The Norse believed the sun was a wheel that rolled back towards the earth after the shortest day of the year. Wreaths of evergreens were a reminder that Spring and the sun would return.
The Norse believed mistletoe had the power of resurrection, even though it’s mildly poisonous. Balder, God of Light and Goodness, was killed by mistletoe. His mother’s tears turned the mistletoe berry from red to white and her love brought him back to life and. Maybe that is why kissing someone under the mistletoe leads to love. Keep your holiday mistletoe out of reach for pets and children. It can make humans sick, and is toxic to pets.
Before Santa had reindeer, Thor had goats. In Norse mythology, Thor rode in a chariot or wagon pulled by goats. Young people dressed up in goat skins and went house to house singing and performing skits in exchange for food.
Scandinavian countries still honor this tradition with Julbock – Yule goat decorations made of straw. One town in Sweden makes an enormous version of the Julbock. It’s been destroyed by fire almost every year. You can see if this year’s goat survives on his twitter account here.
Getting your own Yule goat is easy at several Amazon vendors. Amazon – Julbock
This metal Yule goat comes straight from Sweden.
He can’t be destroyed by fire. Metal Julbock Candle Holder
The Yule log
The Norse cut down a large oak tree and carved runes into it. It was then burned in the home to ask for protection during the winter. Part of the log was saved until the next Yule to keep the protective powers in the home. The modern celebration evolved into a Yule log cake.
For a Yule Log Cake, check out your local bakery or try a mail order vendor.
If you want to make your own Yule Log cake. You can find a dozen ideas with a quick search. Check out these:
Photo Source: Wikipedia & History VIkings