Winter Solstice and Yuletide in Norway
Winter Solstice in Norway, on top of the northern hemisphere (the capital; Oslo at 60°N), today’s return of the sun has a significant impact. At this time of year, we have winter and snow with a temperature around – 5C (23F) and the sun is up only 6 hours a day (equally 19 hours at summer solstice). Around 10AM some days ago, I took some pics at the harbour by the City Hall, trying to capture the beauty of the winter sun rise in Oslo:
Oslo Harbour and Akerhus fortress in the background.
Boats in hibernation at Aker Brygge (Eng.: wharf)
The time around Winter Solstice, a milestone in our calendar, has been celebrated thousands for thousands of years. Worldwide, interpretation of the event has varied from culture to culture, but most have held recognition of rebirth, involving holidays, festivals, gatherings, rituals or other celebrations.
Originally the name Giuli signified a 60 day tide beginning at the lunar midwinter of the late Scandinavian Norse and Germanic tribes. The arrival of Yuletide thus came to refer to the midwinter celebrations. By the late Viking Age, the Yule celebrations came to specify a great solsticial Midwinter festival that amalgamated the traditions of various celebrations across Europe, like Mitwinternacht, Modrasnach, Midvinterblot, and the Teutonic solstice celebration; Feast of the Dead.
In 960 King Håkon of Norway signed into law that Yule was to be celebrated on the night leading into December 25, to align it with the Christian celebrations. For some Norse sects, Yule logs were lit to honour Thor, the god of thunder. Feasting would continue until the log burned out, three or as many as twelve days.
Since I started this post about Sun Rise (occurred today in Oslo at 09:18), let me end with a picture a while after Sun Set (occurred today at 03:12). It’s from a Yule street at our local town a bit out of Oslo:
This picture (with my Nokia N82) was taken a bit after 5PM. As you can see; there is hope for a White Christmas (snow in the air, not stars!) and it got me into the Christmas or Yuletide spirit – quite a prosperous time of the year, don’t you think?