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.
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.
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 Óđinn,
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.
ancient festival is shrouded in mystery, but has left us a
beautiful word describing a delightful occasion.
- Gleđileg Jól