My regular readers know that I post about Norway and the Nordic countries; our traditions, culture and habits – and of course the significant four seasons. In that sense, this is a very special day – a TurningPoint! Today is the shortest day on the Northern Hemisphere (less than 6 hours daylight in Oslo) and so we are in the beginning of a big celebration. It’s no coincidence that I’ve been digging into this phenomena to give you some more background (I like my readers to learn something from my posts you know) so here we go:

Most of the customs, lore, symbols, and rituals associated with “Christmas” actually are linked to Winter Solstice celebrations of ancient Pagan cultures. Christmas time and the secular New Year are reminiscence from spiritual focus to existing holiday customs and by creating new traditions that draw on ancient ways, like: Santa is a folk figure with multicultural roots. He embodies characteristics of Saturn (Roman agricultural god), Cronos (Greek god, also known as Father Time), the Holly King (Celtic god of the dying year), Father Ice/Grandfather Frost (Russian winter god), Thor (Norse sky god who rides the sky in a chariot drawn by goats), Odin/Wotan (Scandinavian/Teutonic All-Father who rides the sky on an eight-legged horse), Frey (Norse fertility god), and the Nisse (a Norse Land Spirit known for giving gifts to children at this time of year). Santa’s reindeer can be viewed as forms of Herne, the Celtic Horned God.

To give you an idea of how the significant seasons look like in Norway, I took a picture from our living room window today (yea; finally we got some snow – thanks to my Northern American friends who sent some over:-)

Winter Solstice
To compare with how it will be in 6 months (with almost 20 hours of daylight), I’ll then give you the same view from Summer Solstice in 2006:
Summer Solstice

So Winter Solstice has been celebrated in cultures the world over for thousands of years. This start of the solar year is a celebration of Light and the rebirth of the Sun. In old Europe, it was known as Yule, from the Norse, Jul, meaning wheel.

By this you know why I always talk about Yuletide and now its about time you learn how to say Merry Christmas in Norwegian: God Jul (meaning good – not God – Yule).

If you like, you can read more about this from my posts: Winter Solstice and Yuletide and It was Yule long before Christmas. You might also like to read more about Yule on Wikipedia.


  1. Off to Sweden for a few days… I will make it to Norway one day!

    God Jul Renny

    Thanks for your visits and contributions over the past months,

    Wish you a lovely Yuletide stay and welcome to Norway next time!
    God Jul to you too!
    Your welcome, I really enjoy your PlanetEarthDailyPhoto!

  2. God Jul, Renny!
    Thank you for another interesting post! Santa sure has a lot of history to live up to…. no mention of Saint Nicholas ….is that where the Santa Claus name comes from?

    Whatever, have a wonderful Christmas with your family and a great New Year.

    God Jul dear blogger friend!
    Glad you liked this post too and yes!: that’s where Santa name comes from too!
    Wish you a good one too!

  3. god jul, renny! the winter solstice scene is just lovely and frosty and the hazy light is so soft and beautiful

    God Jul to you and your family too Lime!
    Glad you liked the pic and hope you can experience it here one day too!

  4. So glad you got the snow I sent to you, Renny! ;~)
    Merry Christmas to you and Diane!!!

    Thanks for the delivery – just on time ;~)
    God Jul to you and your family too!!

  5. Winter Solstice is such a special day and I’m glad I could send you some magic snow on my solstice birthday!!!

    Thanks for your contribution for a White Christmas here Ruth :-)

  6. Hello Renny…God Yule! When did you get back from US?

    We haven’t’ got snow in Texas, but it’s cold some days.

    Hello Shoshana and God Jul to you too! We came back a month ago.
    We got snow last night and have a wonderful White Christmas you know :-)

  7. Wow, what a lovely contrast of days. And a lovely post for this wonderful Winter Solstice!

    God Yule!

  8. Wow! What a difference!

    BTW, I can send over more snow if you’d like. We have enough to spare!

  9. Wow, the difference between the two pictures is amazing!

    For some reasons, I always had this idea that Nordic countries loved celebrating Xmas… or Yuletide (woohoo, a new word for me!). Maybe because we all know Santa Claus lives up there…

    My turn for a French “Joyeux Noël” and a Chinese “圣诞快乐” ;-)

  10. I like the idea of celebrating winter solstice — I don’t think there’s anything like that in this part of France, but maybe there is in the north.

    The summer solstice is often celebrated with a bonfire — “un feu de St. Jean.”

    I loved your two photos.

    Happy holidays!

  11. God jul to you and yours, Renny! I LOVE your traditions and learn from them. Thank you for sharing, as always!

  12. I love the winter solstice- it’s a very special day.

    God Yul and Merry Christmas to you too!

  13. Hi Renny, I asked before about the shortest day, so 6 hours is very short! Thanks for all the information you wrote and write on your blog, I leike to learn from all traditions of all cultures… Thanks for sharing!

    I want to wish YOU a merry Christmas, you might celebrate this with your friends and/or family or both, I posted some Christmas decorations, on my blog with Happy celebrations, come and look,

    With the BEST Christmas-greetings , JOANN

  14. Thanks for the background on the Fat Man in Red, Kris Kringle, Pere Noel, the Jolly Old Elf, Old Tomte. (I didn’t know about the parallels to Thor!)

    And just think: The days are getting longer now!

    I hope you and your American Wife (they best kind!) and family have a safe and happy holiday!

  15. Dear you and D and the boys and rest of your great family,
    we wish you the very best for the Christmas with great Norwegian traditions at your parents home (Give them a hug from the both of us).

    It’s a sad fact we were not able to join you for New Years Eve in Wonderful Mariestad – you know why.

    Our Christmas Eve will be at my second oldest son – Niklas. It’s a very easy access for my mother (88) dependent as she is of a roullator(?).

    great x-mas hugs
    Anna y Tor

  16. Hi My Big Friend, Renny! Just wanted to stop by and say… Thank you for leaving a comment on my blog and thanks for taking interest in my work! I’m so glad… Best Wishes for A Merry Christmas and A Happy New Year! Your Brazilian Friend from Blogging to Fame, Renato de Trindade

  17. Happy Solstice, Happy New Year Renny.God Jul!

  18. wait! isn’t santa from norway?

    god jul! :)

  19. Cool pics… nicely illustrates the difference in seasons. Thanks, Renny, for sharing so much about your country. I don’t think I knew very much about Norway until I ran into your blog!

  20. Just pop in to wish you a Merry Christmas before we leave for Amsterdam. We are coming back tomorrow night Amsterdam in Christmas time is not so special.

  21. I LOVE the two pictures, Renny…to see the dierence is always startling and beautiful, too! Both are lovely!
    I wish you and yours the MERRIEST CHRISTMAS ever! May all your dreams come true and may the day be filled with much good cheer and much good food, too!

  22. Very interesting post…and I especially enjoyed the compare/contrast shots! God Jul!

  23. Merry Christmas! Hope you have a fun-filled day!

  24. A Happy New Year to you, too!
    I am very familiar with Yule and feel the Solstice in my spirits :)
    The scenery could as well be from my neighbourhood. I don’t actually live in Turku, but Kaarina, the next town to the east.
    I have important memories from Oslo; I got engaged there a long time ago…

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