Wednesday, December 24, 2008

Merry Yule

This time of year is important but hard to come up with a suitable wish to all the people over the world. I think before "Seasons Greetings" were very common; now "Happy Holidays" seems to be the correct expression.

Usually I prefer our own "Hyvää Joulua!" and the reason is historic:

Yule or Yule-tide is a winter festival that was initially celebrated by the historical Germanic peoples as a pagan religious festival, though it was later absorbed into, and equated with, the Christian festival of Christmas.The term "Yule" is still used in the Nordic Countries to refer to Christmas. In modern times, Yule is observed as a cultural festival.

Originally the name Giuli signified a 60 day tide beginning at the lunar midwinter of the late Scandinavian Norse and Germanic tribes. The arrival of Juletid thus came to refer to the midwinter celebrations. By the late Viking Age, the Yule celebrations came to specify a great solstitial Midwinter festival that amalgamated the traditions of various midwinter celebrations across Europe, like the solstice celebration. A documented example of this is in 960, when King Håkon of Norway signed into law that Jul was to be celebrated on the night leading into December 25, to align it with the Christian celebrations.

RennyBA has an excellent explanation about this in his blog from the Norwegian point of view.

The explanation of the Finnish tradition in Wikipedia is short and accurate:

On the eve of the Finnish Joulu, children are visited by Joulupukki, a character similar to Santa Claus. The word Joulupukki means "Yule Goat" and probably derives from an old Finnish tradition where people called nuuttipukkis dressed in goat hides circulated in homes after Joulu, eating leftover food. Joulupukki visits people's homes and rides a sleigh pulled by a number of reindeer. He knocks on the front door during Jouluaatto, rather than sneaking in through the chimney at night. When he comes in, his first words are usually "Onkos täällä kilttejä lapsia?",
"Are there (any) good (well-behaved) children here?". Presents are given and opened immediately. He usually wears red, warm clothes and often carries a wooden walking stick. His workshop is in Korvatunturi, Lapland, Finland, rather than at the North Pole like Santa Claus, or in Greenland. He is married to Joulumuori (tr. Mother Yule). Typical Finnish yule dishes include ham, various root vegetable casseroles, beetroot salad, gingerbread and star-shaped plum-filled pastries. Other traditions with a non-Christian yule background include joulukuusi ("Yule spruce") and joulusauna ("yule sauna").

So today is the most important day in Finland. Santa left yesterday and you can even follow the live broadcast at the link on his site. However it does not support Firefox and I am not going to use IE because of that :)

It is early in the morning and others are asleep. I will soon start to make our traditional Rice Porrige, which takes about an hour to get ready.

I think the picture has an excessive amount of butter in it...

I wish merry Yule to everyone!


Anonymous said...

Merry Yule to you, Leena, and your Dear Ones, too. Thank you very much. We enjoy your blog and your adventures always. You're one of a kind! May you continue to be blessed.

Anonymous said...

Wow, what an informative write up. Though I'm late, it is still good to say. Merry Yule to you.

Anonymous said...

Merry Yule to you and your family. Here's another good article about the origin of Yule.