Another Scandinavian beauty - the Christmas Tree. Historically, I think the Nordic countries, with their scenic snowy landscapes and truly white Christmases, took the holiday season to a new level - beginning with roots that go into the pagan holiday of YULE.
Yule, a days-long feast that was perhaps the most important celebration of the year, the winter solstice. Yule was important for several reasons: it gave farmers something to do at the time when field works were over; it lifted spirits during the toughest time of the year, when sickness and cold temperatures often claimed easy victims; and it defied the forces of evil that lurked in the dark, giving hope to people in surviving the long Scandinavian winter still ahead.
Held around the same dates in late December, Yule went through a process of Christianization around the 9th century AD when, with the efforts of missionaries, it started shaping into the holiday we know today. Christmas in the Nordics is still referred to by its pagan name: Jul in Sweden, Norway, and Denmark, Jól in Iceland, and Joulu in Finland.
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