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Sunday, December 17, 2006

Christmas the Great Inclusion; PART FOUR

Christmas; The Great Inclusion
Part Four - Yule Tide Log

The Scandinavian tribes also celebrated the winter solstice. It seems like the ancient peoples all understood astronomy to some degree. Many experts give the civilizations in the old days a lot of credit for becoming expert astronomers. But here’s the deal. Other than getting smashed on alcoholic beverages, they didn’t have all that much to do at night. So, they sat around at night looking at the stars and making up stories about them.

You know, if you were to watch the stars for a couple of years or so, you would soon recognize their dance across the heavens. It doesn’t take a rocket science to figure out that their motion tells a story of the seasons. This knowledge was important; for they relied on it for their very survival.

It’s not hard to understand why the winter solstice became so important. It marked the shortest day of the year. It marked the coldest and longest night. It was the march towards springtime planting. It was a time to celebrate. One particular celebration of note was called Jol to honor Jolnir (or Odin, the chief god of the Norsemen). The pronunciation of Jol became “Yule” to us.

In those cold regions of northern Europe, the burning of a large log became a very popular traditional way to celebrate the festival of Jol. They’d go out into the forest and drag in the biggest log they could find. Into the communal lodge it would go to the fire.
Out would come a big pig and in it would go for roasting. (Could this be the origins of the traditional holiday ham dinner? It certainly didn’t come from the Jewish traditions!)

The party started when it was lit and it would not end until the log was completely consumed. The lodge would be filled with smoke, food, laughter, dancing, brew… and the other things that naturally accompany such an event. I’m sure that if we could go back to those times, there would be many who also celebrated birthdays in August.

Yes, I would consider the party an uncontrolled orgy of sorts. Why not? It was cold outside and there was not much else to do in the time of longest nights. It wasn’t uncommon for the log to last several days. I wonder how much imbibing a person could take in over several days? I have no clue. I’m not an imbiber. I really don’t know.

When celebrations of the Christmas holiday caught on in these areas, the log was included by the local people as part of the local traditional way to celebrate the season. Oh yes… all of the other trappings came along with it much to the chagrin of the church I’m sure.

Nevertheless, it was an inclusionary act to adopt the Yule log as part of a traditional Christmas.

Oh yea. Come on baby and light that fire.

Copyright 2006 by Cindi Jones RSS feeds allowed

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