Many of my colleagues and friends ask me why I celebrate Christmas while being an atheist. In the Nordic, we actually do not call the holidays Christmas, we call it Jul or Yule. Yule or Yuletide (“Yule time” or “Yule season”) is a festival historically observed by the Germanic people. Scholars have connected the original celebrations of Yule to the Wild Hunt, the god Odin, and the pagan Anglo-Saxon Mōdraniht.
Later departing from its pagan roots, Yule underwent Christianised reformulation, resulting in the term Christmastide. Many present-day Christmas customs and traditions such as the Yule log, Yule goat, Yule boar, Yule singing, and others stem from pagan Yule traditions. Terms with an etymological equivalent to Yule are still used in Nordic countries and Estonia to describe Christmas and other festivals occurring during the winter holiday season.
Unlike Britain, the main Norwegian Christmas celebration takes place with a big Christmas dinner on 24th December, Christmas Eve. The choice of food varies depending on the area of Norway you are from, but often consists stock fish or fermented cod. However, the clear favorite, eaten by as many as six out of ten households, is ‘Ribbe’ – roast pork belly. In Sunnmøre, where I live, we eat Pinnekjøtt. Salty. Rich. Chewy & tender ribs of lamb.
The Holidays is about spending time with family and friends. It’s about creating happy memories that will last a lifetime.
The magical feeling that surrounds the Holidays is one that can’t be replicated at any other time of the year. It connects us regardless of our roots and beliefs in a spirit of thankfulness, love, joy and comradeship.
Joy and sharing is a pivotal theme of the Holidays and we all have different ways of expressing these values as a result of our backgrounds and cultures. For some, the act of exchanging gifts is their way of expressing love and compassion this season, for others it’s just about taking a break from the rigors of corporate life and spending quality time with family and friends.
It has been a very busy year for me and my family. My girlfriend Therese took up a university education within finance and accounting, Sondre is in his pre-university study, Andreas has left the army and will start working in carpentry and Alexander is studying for his electrical degree. Now we will relax and enjoy each others company for the next few weeks, before we kick off the next year!
Happy Holidays and all the best to you in the year to come!