Before the stomach flu hit me I had promised to tell You a little about Swedish Christmas , or Yule as we call it. So I think I´ll tell You a little about its history. The people in what we now call the Nordic countries did celebrate the old gods this time of year (like in all europe before christianity came along) by drinking mead and I guess that continued long after we were called christians too. We have always had problems leaving our pagan past behind us 🙂
Christmas presents came long after and started really as a joke. If I translate the swedish name for christmas presents it is something like Yule knocks. It really sounds funny when translating it but it makes sense if You read the rest 🙂 The giver should be anonymous (we were more humble back then 🙂 🙂 🙂 ) and early in the morning at Yule eve (The nordic countries and big parts of Germany gives away the presents at Christmas eve) the giver knocked on the door and threw in the present and then ran away.
In the beginning this was a joke present, usually a piece of wood or a straw doll. With the present a small verse was put on it telling the person why they had the honor to get this present. Still today many people writes verses on their Yule knocks so the receiver may guess what the package is hiding. The important thing back then was not to be seen, because the verses could be really nasty 🙂 🙂 🙂
Later on the presents got more nice and someone started to give them away. First it was the Yule goat. There are many stories about who the Yule goat really was and one of them says it was the Devil forced by God to do good things one day every year. But he is actually the goat that carried around our old pagan god Tor (or do You spell it Thor?) But he only lasted a short while because then Santa came along. Well we wouldn´t be swedes if we called him Santa would we 🙂 No he is the Yule Gnome over here and most of him is Santa but in old Yule cards we can see that he looks very much like our old house gnomes.
Back in the days the Yule Gnome either came in a carriage after a horse or after a goat (Thor still lives amongst us 🙂 🙂 🙂 ) and still today the goat is a very important Yule figure here. In a town called Gävle they every year puts up the worlds largest straw goat before Yule and almost every year someone burns it down 🙂 🙂 🙂 Now days they have so many guards around it that those burning it must be really smart to make it. So far this year it still stands. To be honest, the only reason people cares about that goat at all is because we all want it to burn down. It has become sort of an Yule tradition 🙂 🙂 🙂
Today I´ll end this post by showing my Christmas card. I do hope that You over the ocean gets it soon! I did post it before the last day they assured that it would arrive in time! Have a good continuing of Yule!