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- Yule was originally its own holiday and did NOT
have its origins in Christmas or Christianity. Nowadays, Yule is
often thought as being the same thing as Christmas, just a different
- Ancient Germanic people celebrated the winter
holiday of Yule, which had its origins in Norse mythology. Odin,
the chief god in Norse mythology, was the central figure for Yule, much
like Santa Claus became for Christmas.
- Many parallels have been drawn between Santa
Claus and Odin. It's believed the myth of Santa Claus took a lot
of its shape from Odin (i.e. the long white beard, etc.)
- On the native Germanic holiday of Yule, Odin was
said to lead a great hunting party in the sky. Odin had an
eight-legged horse named Sleipnir that could leap great
distances. Some believe this is where the idea of Santa's
reindeer was seeded.
- Children would place their boots, filled with
carrots, straw, or sugar, by the chimney for Sleipner to eat. In
return, Odin would reward those children by replacing Sleipnir's food
with candy and/or gifts. This practice was still continued in
Germany, Belgium, and the Netherlands after they adopted
Christianity. It became associated with Saint Nicholas as a
result of the process of Christianization, and can still be seen in the
modern practice of hanging stockings on the chimney at some homes.
- The stocking practice came to the United States
through the Dutch colony of New Amsterdam, prior to British seizure in
the 17th century. It evolved into the hanging of socks or
stockings at the fireplace.
- Many other pre-Christian Germanic winter
traditions have continued into modern Christmas celebrations such as:
Christmas ham, Christmas tree, Yule goat, and Yule logs.