Terms with an etymological equivalent to "Yule” are still used in the Nordic Countries for the Christian Christmas, but also for other religious holidays of the season. In modern times this has gradually led to a more secular tradition under the same name as Christmas. Yule is also used to a lesser extent in English-speaking countries to refer to Christmas. Customs such as the Yule log, Yule goat, Yule boar, Yule singing, and others stem from Yule. In modern times, Yule is observed as a cultural festival and also with religious rites by some Christians and by some Neopagans.
"Joul" (singular), more commonly used in plural as "joulud". Celebrated in line with the Finnish customs. The old tradition of celebrating the winter solstice has nowadays been predominantly replaced or mixed with Protestant or secularised Christmas holidays. Traditional "joul” celebrations can still be encountered.
Traditionally, "joulud” were sacred days marking the end of one season and the beginning of the new one. The Earth turned herself towards light, warmth, food and life. It was believed that one’s behaviour in the times of joul determined the good fortune of oneself and the whole household. The souls of deceased relatives were awaited back home; they were seen having a great deal of influence on the fortune of the living.
The household was thoroughly cleaned, decorated and the most abundant dishes of the year were prepared. Dried straws were laid across the cleaned floors to signify the start of "joulud”. During the Yule time from 21 to 27 December a light had to be on at all times. Also, it had to be made sure light would not escape the house through the windows, so the latter were carefully covered.
It was peaceful time for reflection and family, hence games and riddles were played.
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