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Yuletide: Happiest season of the year. What’s “Yule” anyway

22 Dec 2020 | STORIES | 0 Comment
Title News

We are already at the end of the year again, and for me, this is the happiest season of the year. Not only because I celebrate Christmas, but because there are so many things that (maybe) I only experience on Christmas. When I was a kid, my family would gather around, sing, pray together and sum up the evening with a festive dinner. For most people, Christmas is a celebration on December 25th, but actually it also refers to the whole Christmas season known as Yuletide. But what is Yule?


Yule comes from a name for a 12-day festival, celebrated by Germanic people, around the winter solstice in December and January. Yuletide kicks off with a celebration of the lengthening amount of sunlight. The solstice marks the onset of winter, and there will be the least daytime during the year. For many ancient people, the winter solstice was a time to pray and hope for spring to come. 


Just like any other celebration, Yuletide has so many traditions within it. It starts with decorating an Evergreen tree as a common Yuletide custom in ancient times, and giving gifts to friends and loved ones. And what is a celebration without food? On Yuletide, the Germanic people would have French Bûche de Noël, a decadent chocolate cake baked in the shape of a Yule Log and shared with family and friends at a Yuletide gathering. The Yule Log, usually from oak tree, is another Yuletide tradition meant to symbolize the passing of an old year into a new one, with the promise of hope and happiness. The oak log is decorated with evergreen boughs, sprigs of holly, bare birch branches, and trailing ivy vines.


(Yule Log, source: https://blog.hellofresh.co.uk/christmas-baking/)


In modern life, Yule is already mapped on Christmas and its surrounding festivities due to its familiar sense. The “Yuletide” itself is a combination of Yule, from the 12-day winter festival Jol, and Tide, which here refers to an annual festival or the season. ‘Tide’ is also related to the old English for time, meaning “to happen by fate,” and thus “good tidings” are merely wishes for good fortune. So today, Yuletide and Christmas generally refer to the festival season beginning with Christmas Eve and lasting until after New Year's Day.


The adaptation of Yuletide in Indonesia is not much different from the rest of the world. For example, my family and I also have a tradition to decorate the Christmas tree, the difference is that we’re not using a fresh evergreen tree. We also have our food traditions during this time, basically all the sweet things but my most favorite is Kembang Goyang. This food is a Betawi traditional food, but my family will always have this for Christmas. 

So, what traditions have you got during Yuletide? Let me know.

Written by: Christina Novalita
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