The Universe and Me

Sunday, December 25, 2005

Gleðileg Jól

For some unknown reason this year there’s a big tizzy about the use of the word Christmas. It shouldn’t be a surprise since the names for other holidays (Easter and Halloween, especially) have suffered the same ridiculous maligning. All this nonsense made me, being half Swedish, wonder why the Swedes call this holiday Jul (and the Icelanders Jól.) Apparently, the Vikings and the Norsemen celebrated the winter solstice around December 21st. The celebration was called Iol, Iul, Jule, or Yule. Yuletide means "the sun's turning." The Swedish word for wheel is hjul, the Old Norse jól and the Icelandic hjól. So Jul or Jól was celebrated as the turning of the wheel, to identify when the wheel of the year was at its lowest point, ready to rise again. None of this explains why the Swedish and Icelandic name for the month of July is Juli. I do know that after listening to interminable Christmas songs on Icelandic radio this month, I am thoroughly sick of the jólasveinar. Oh yeah, and Happy Festivus to the rest of ya’s.


  • At 5:49 PM, October 31, 2006, Anonymous Anonymous said…

    júlí hefur ekkert með íslensku eða önnur norræn mál að gera, en Sólmánuður/Selmánuður - 19 Júní - 22 Júlí er u.þ.b. miðsumarmánuður.

  • At 6:22 AM, November 01, 2006, Anonymous Nan said…

    July is named after Julius Caesar. And just a coincidence, it would seem, that it's similar to the modern Yule words.


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