Yule is Jul
A lot of people believe Yule to have come originally from the Celtics, but it actually started with the Old Germanic Tribes (who later become the Vikings and Anglo-Saxons). It's true spelling is Jul pronounced as "Yule". The celebration is dedicated to Odin and has a lot to do with the Wild Hunt lead by Odin which is said to bring war or a great death. This could just be seen as the Wild Hunt brings on the cold, shorter days when many would catch colds and such, but what it truly stands for is much debated.
This particular holiday is very long and can start anywhere from Mid-November and last up to Mid-January, though many texts that I have read personally, have it more around Mid-December and ending around the first week of January. You can read more of this reference in chapter 55 of the Prose Edda.
To celebrate everyone would carry out a sacrifice and bring all the food needed for the celebration to the temple. They would drink ale and sacrifice the animals associated with Jul (horses, cows, goats, and pigs) and collect their blood. They would use special twigs gathered together to sprinkle the blood at the pedestals of the Gods as well as the inside and outside walls. When people would enter the temple, they would also be sprinkled with the blood to receive the blessings and give thanks. They would then light a large fire in the middle of the temple and the chieftain and person preparing the feast would bless the meat from the sacrificed animals and the other foods before cooking. The first toast was always to Odin, followed then by Frejyer and Njoror, then lastly to the king himself. After this they would drink to their fallen loved ones.
“Glorious Maiden Who Knows the Age Cure of the Aesir”
This holiday is also closely associated with the Sun (of course) and the Poetic Edda also talks about a Sun Goddess being reborn when the Gods are weakened, or dying. The other Gods are waiting for the Maiden to come forth and bring them new life as Sunna who rides a chariot across the sky and runs from the Wolf of darkness. The Winter Solstice is the time of the year where its thought she is finally caught by the wolf and devoured, then the springs buds her anew. Sunna is critical to the way they saw Earth created and the cycle of life itself. She is the first who made man and formed the heavens and other planets. Its possible that she actually is just dying at the end of the year as she gives birth to herself in the beginning of a new year; a common theme throughout many pagan religions. She is also quoted to be the actual seed of Yggdrasill, though her place and person was later replaced in the age of the Vikings. She can still be seen in much of their imagery and the other goddess of the new pantheon. Thor was also depicted as her protector who fought for her resurrection and can still be seen in the essence of the Yule Goat as well as then when they sacrificed the goats for feasting.
The Wild Hunt - Asgardr-Riders
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