Merry Christmas to all: Wishing you health, wealth and happiness in the new year ahead.

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Christmas is primarily marked on the 25th of December to commemorate the birth of Jesus Christ, Christmas is a time of year celebrated by billions of people around the world. The festival is accompanied by several traditions that, unbeknownst to many, have pagan origins.

Long before Christianity had come to the Nordic regions, the pagan Vikings and other ancient Germanic peoples would celebrate the winter solstice each December, the time of year when the days were the shortest and the night’s the longest. Friends and relatives would get together and enjoy food and drink in a festival known as Yule.

This year we have gone with the traditional Father Christmas. 

Whenever we think or talk about Santa Claus, a figure of an ever jolly, portly old man with a white beard in a red and white suit comes to mind. The modern version of Santa Claus as the jolly man, who gives away gifts to children on Christmas Eve is one of the most popular legendary figures.

He has also become the symbol of capitalism in many respects, the traditions around this festive season have been lost and replaced with one overriding factor “buy! buy! buy!”

But it’s not always been that way.

In 1880s, Santa was depicted in a green or tan suit. Thomas Nast, a German-born American caricaturist, is often attributed for the creation of the modern American version of Santa’s suit. His cartoon about Santa Claus and Christmas featured in Harper’s Weekly Dec. 25, 1866. In the cartoon, he drew Santa in a red suit with fur lining, a nightcap, and a black belt with a large buckle. However, he also drew the legendary figure in green suit, but the red one went on to become more popular.

The change in Santa’s suit from green to red has often mistakenly been attributed to the work of Haddon Sundblom, who drew pictures of Santa for Coca-Cola’s advertisement since 1931.

However, in Britain, Santa Claus was always popularly known as Father Christmas, who is depicted in a green suit, a mix of paganism, Christianity and the old gods.

The cause of Labour is the hope of the world.

The festive season set in the middle of winter has long been a time of celebration around the world.

Early Europeans celebrated light and birth in the darkest days of winter. Many peoples rejoiced during the winter solstice, when the worst of the winter was behind them and they could look forward to longer days and extended hours of sunlight.

The Christmas season has become a mixture of religions, paganism and tradition dating back way before Christianity.

Many of our traditions come from the Nordic regions, the pagan Vikings and other ancient Germanic peoples who would celebrate the winter solstice each December, the time of year when the days were the shortest and the night’s the longest. Friends and relatives would get together and enjoy food and drink in a festival known as Yule.

Although it can be argued that our modern Father Christmas is a fusion of ancient myths, legends and folklore, the resemblance and connection to the Norse god Odin has many historians believing he was the original Santa.

In Nordic tradition, the Yule log was a carefully selected log that was ceremonially brought into the house and burnt on a hearth (brick or stone-lined fireplace) during the time of Yule. Part of it would be saved and kept until the following year to not only protect the home but also act as kindling for next year’s Yule log.

Whilst the tradition continues to this day across the world, it has also transformed into a culinary one with many people choosing to furnish their Christmas tables with a chocolate Yule log.

Although it can be argued that our modern Father Christmas is a fusion of ancient myths, legends and folklore, the resemblance and connection to the Norse god Odin has many historians believing he was the original Santa.

The Norse god Odin was said to be ‘the father of all gods’. Described as a bearded old man wearing a hat and a cloak, Odin would often ride his eight-legged horse Sleipnir across the midwinter night’s sky, delivering gifts to those down below. Sound familiar?

As Christianity swept across Germanic Europe centuries ago, many Yuletide traditions were adopted and absorbed into the Christian faith, mixing together to create the modern Christmas we celebrate today. However this year we look back on the darker days in the hope of new light coming.

THE 12 DAYS OF CHRISTMAS

Before we were all singing about turtle doves and a partridge in a pear tree, the ancient Norse were enjoying their midwinter festival of Yule for exactly twelve days. Beginning on the day of the winter solstice (the longest day and night), the feasting festivities would carry on for 12 days, creating the origins of the 12 days of Christmas we celebrate today.

CHRISTMAS HAM

It’s a dish that’s featured on most Christmas tables at some point during the festive season and once again, we have the Norse to thank for our Christmas ham.

Feasting played a central role in the way the Vikings and other ancient Germanic people honoured the gods. One such ritual saw the sacrificing of a Wild Boar to the Norse god Freyr in the hope of a fruitful harvest during the next season.

The boar would be the centrepiece of the feasting, very much like the Christmas ham that adorns our modern-day tables.

FESTIVE WREATH

Whilst the Romans originally created wreaths to be displayed as a symbol of victory, they became connected to our festive celebrations by way of Yule. Like the evergreen trees, wreaths created using an evergreen plant such as Holly, would be brought into people’s dwellings during Yuletide to remind them of the warmer days to come, a reassuring symbol during the long cold winters of the Scandinavian north.

The Vikings themselves would set alight to a ‘sunwheel’, which strongly resembles our modern wreaths. The burning wheel was then rolled down a hill in the hope of enticing the sun to return.

YULE LOG

In Nordic tradition, the Yule log was a carefully selected log that was ceremonially brought into the house and burnt on a hearth (brick or stone-lined fireplace) during the time of Yule. Part of it would be saved and kept until the following year to not only protect the home but also act as kindling for next year’s Yule log.

Whilst the tradition continues to this day across the world, it has also transformed into a culinary one with many people choosing to furnish their Christmas tables with a chocolate Yule log.

A Traditional Father Christmas.

The Green father Christmas encapsulates all that is good about the natural world and how its well-being is essential for our own survival.

This last year has been particularly hard in many ways not least the loss of loved ones in circumstances that have been unprecedented.

Here’s hoping we have put those darkest days behind us and we can all look forward to a new year.

Please stay safe, be kind, be good and enjoy. Peace and Goodwill to all.

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