Yule was originally celebrated for two months starting around mid-November and going until early January. Haakon l of Norway is given credit for the Christianization of Norway as well as the rescheduling of the date of Yule to coincide with the Christian celebrations held at the time. When Haakon l arrived in Norway he was a Christian, but the land was still altogether heathen and the people retained their Pagan practices. Haakon hid his Christian beliefs to receive the help of the Great Chieftan's of the area. Eventually Haakon had a law passed that would make Yule celebrations take place at the same time as the Christian Christmas. At that time everyone was to have ale for the celebration with a measure of grain, or pay a fine.
In the original celebrations of Yule it was custom to sacrifice and all farmers were to come to the temple,bringing with them the food they needed while the feast lasted. All that attended the feast were to take par in the drinking of ale. A lot of livestock was sacrificed including horses, the blood was then smeared all over the walls of the temple and the men who attended. The meat from the sacrificed animals was then boiled for the feast in large kettles which hung over a large fire in the middle of the temple floor. The Chieftan then blessed the meat and toasts were made to the Gods.
Yule begins at sunset on December 20th and goes until January 1st.
How To Set Up A Yule Altar
Winter has begun so use colder colors such as blues,silvers,whites,and make sure to find ways to include greens and reds for the season. Dark greens are always good. For Candles use silver, gold, green, red, or white.
Yule is meant to celebrate the Suns return so make sure to add solar symbols to your table. It doesn't have to be a sun statue a simple shinny gold object to represent the sun works just fine, a yellow or gold candle would also work.
Now here is the fun part go crazy with the rest of the decor! You could add a Yule log, Yule tree, reindeer, antlers, holly, mistletoe, even a Santa! Have fun with your Yule altar. Feel free to also add an offering for the Gods.
Fun Facts About Yule/Christmas!
1. Mistletoe - Before the ritual of kissing under the mistletoe it was believed that mistletoe possessed life bestowing properties and was associated with fertility.
2. Yule Log - The Yule log was originally a whole tree, that was chosen and brought into the house with great ceremony. The largest end of the log would be lit from the remains of the previous year which had been stored away and slowly fed into the fire through the twelve days of Christmas.
3. Santa Clause - The 6th of December is Saint Nicholas day and was based off Saint Nicholas of Myra. Saint Nicholas of Myra was famous for his generosity.
Santa himself is also associated with supernatural occurrences like the Wild Hunt which is frequently attested as the God Odin.
I hope you learned at least one thing from my Yule entry :) I hope you and your family have a Merry Yule and Blessed Be!
Below is a picture of my Yule Altar!