Santa's Whiskers

400-200 B.C.

Feast of Yule

Yule was a midwinter festival celebrated by the northern Germanic peoples. The  Yule-tide period lasted somewhere around two months in length, falling along the end of the modern calendar year between what is now mid-November and early January.

The feast of yule started in a time when ancient believers celebrated rebirth and days with more light. This took place annually around the time of the December solstice and lasted for 12 days. Fires were lit to symbolize the heat, light and life-giving properties of the returning sun. A Yule or Juul log was brought in and burned on the hearth in honor of the god Thor. A piece of the log was kept as both a token of good luck and as kindling for the following year’s log.

During this time many believed that Odin, the Wanderer (the father of all gods, including Thor), disguised in a long blue-hooded cloak, would travel to earth on his eight-legged horse (Sleipner), to observe homesteaders gathered around the campfires to see how content the people were, and for those in need of food he left gifts of bread and disappeared.

As traditions grew over time, the children of these lands would anticipate the arrival of gift-bearing Odin and would fill their boots with straw, carrots or sugar and place them near the fireplace so that Sleipnir could come down to eat during his midnight rides. Odin would then reward these kind children by replacing the food with gifts and candy treats inside the boots.