Yule in Iceland
Origin of Yule

A celebration of the winter solstice has been held since time immemorial in the Northern Hemisphere. Throughout the ages the festival has had many names. It is certain that a mid-winter festival called Yule was celebrated in the Nordic countries well before the year 1000.

Though challenged by some scholars, the fact that Yule/Jól was celebrated here in Iceland and throughout the Northern Hemisphere well before the advent of Christianity is now widely accepted. The exact date, or dates, that Yule was celebrated is not certain, but it was probably connected to the full moon nearest the winter solstice. The calendar has been changed many times since, and it is impossible to reconcile the references to an exact date.

The name itself has been retained in many languages--
Yule - Jól - Jul
even if the cause for celebration has shifted from the sun reversing its downward path, shining ever longer each day, to the birth of Jesus. This linguistic retention of the name should be proof enough that the festival has always been an important one. For close to a thousand years people have tried to explain the meaning of the name "Yule" to no avail. Some scholars believe it comes from one of the names of Óðinn, others have even theorized that it came from the name of Julius Caesar. It has also been suggested that Jól is derived from the Old-Nordic word for wheel: Hjól, the theory being that the wheel of the year has come full circle, and this is just the tip of the iceberg. There have been more attempts at explanations than one can shake a stick at. Certainly the exact meaning of the original word is something we shall never know.

This ancient festival is shrouded in mystery, but has left us a beautiful word describing a delightful occasion.

Good Yule - Gleðileg Jól

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