Amongst the Sami, midwinter was an occasion for honoring the goddess Beiwe, who was associated with the sun, fertility and sanity. She reportedly traversed the sky in a craft made of reindeer bones accompanied by her daughter, Beiwe-Neia. Beiwe's followers sacrificed white female animals and smeared their doorposts with butter for Beiwe to munch on during her journey.
Quit fighting, you! At least you'll be out of this blasted cold soon! Plus, I've still got to smear some butter.
Amongst the Germanic peoples to their south, Juletid referred to their take on midwinter festivities. By the late Viking Age the word "Yule" had come to refer to a pan-European bricolage of midwinter observances.
Real Vikings don't use horns (on their helmets)
Yule logs were lit to honor Thor. The feasting would continue until the fires had burned out. Although
in 960, Norwegian King Håkon signed into law that Jul (Yule) was to be moved from the solstice to December 25, to align it with Jesus' birthday party; Icelanders continued to keep it real until the Reformation reached them and ended the fun.
Icelandic sagas frequently mention Yule but rarely specifics beyond the feasting aspect. Adam of Bremen wrote that the Swedish kings sacrificed male slaves every ninth Yule at the Temple of Uppsala. A boar was also traditionally slaughtered in honor of Freyr.
Yule leftovers. The Buche de Noel... ...and the Christmas Ham
Freyr - God of rain, sunshine, produce and fertility Thor - God of thunder
One-eyed Odin, hammer-yielding Thor & corn-carring Freyr Father Christmas riding a Yule goat
Become a fan of Eric's Blog on Facebook!