Some traditions from Viking times are still practiced in Norway. The little gnome, ( Nisse ), who guards the farm animals is believed to play tricks on little boys and girls if they do not leave a special bowl of porridge, ( Risengrynsgrot ), outside their door, or in their barn for them. There is also a little Elf, known as the Julebukk, that appears as a goat. Supposedly in Viking times someone would dress up as a goat, and ceremonially die and be resurrected, much the way Thor will bring his goats back to life after using them as food. To honor the Julebukk during Jul I place straw Jul goats, ( Jul Geit ), on Thor's altar and perform a short ritual honoring the rebirth of Thor's goats, and the continuous supply of food they provide to the Mighty Thor. In times past the children would dress up as goats and go door to door asking for treats, much like Americans trick or treating on Halloween. Whether they still dress up as goats I do not know, but I tend to doubt it. If anyone from Norway reads this and knows, let me know. Supposedly, ( I have only read about this ), Santa Claus is actually a re - invention of the ancient Norse figure called Julesvenn. In Viking times he would visit during the Jul feast, and leave lucky barley hidden around the house.
The burning of the Yule log, is another tradition that I still practice today. The Yule log to me represents the light and hope of the season, and the opportunities that the New Year will bring. The Yule log, according to tradition, must be lit using a piece of last years Yule log. This to me represents the flow of time, and of not forgetting the importance of the past.
As much as I love my ancestors, and the people of Norway, I cannot celebrate many of their Christmas traditions, such as St. Lucia, and you will not find a Christmas tree in my house, or lights decorating the outside. I do hold however, to the old traditions that have their roots in the days of our Viking ancestors, but pass on modern interpretations of them. I have already outlined in my article " 13 Days of Jul ", that I posted on December 7th, 2011, who I honor, and on what days I honor them, so I will not go into that again. You should honor those Gods, ancestors, martyrs, etc.. that you honor, as you want to honor them, and not how others tell you to honor them. My ritual practices are just a guideline for you to use as a comparison.
The Jul feast for me is a huge affair that I hold on Christmas Eve. Remember Christmas Day is not to be celebrated, as it is the day of the birth of the boy who's religion killed our people and destroyed our religion. I call it Dark Day, and for me it is a day of mourning. But getting back to the Jul feast, I like to have all kinds of meats, vegetables, and breads, a smorgasbord if you will. Then I finish of the night lighting the Jul log, and sitting by its warmth drinking toast after toast to all those who deserve my praise. It is usually a long night of toasting. The modern / ancient way I celebrate Jul means much more to me than any store bought gifts. And remember you cannot by the love of the Gods and Goddesses, you have to earn it !
May the Gods and Goddesses bless you all during this wonderful Jul season !
Go with Odin's wisdom, Freyja's love, and Thor's protection !