I repeatedly tell my students that wikipedia is an unreliable source, and they must not, ever, use it for accurate information nor support of their claims. As this is an informal blog, however, I allow myself to deviate from this.
Yule or Yuletide (“Yule-time”) is a winter festival that was initially celebrated by the historical Germanic people as a pagan religious festival, though it was later absorbed into, and equated with, the Christian festival of Christmas. The festival was originally celebrated from late December to early January on a date determined by the lunar Germanic calendar. The festival was placed on December 25 when the Christian calendar (Julian calendar) was adopted. Scholars have connected the celebration to the Wild Hunt.
Terms with an etymological equivalent to Yule are used in the Nordic countries for the Christian Christmas (with its religious rites), but also for other holidays of the season. 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. The fact that Yule is not etymologically tied to Christianity means Yule in the Nordic countries is also celebrated by many non-Christians and even by the non-religious. The non-religious treat Yule as an entirely secular tradition. A number of Neopagans have introduced their own rites.
I quote the above for this particularly significant phrase: “The fact that Yule is not etymologically tied to Christianity means Yule in the Nordic countries is also celebrated by many non-Christians and even by the non-religious.” Certainly, this is true, although I would argue that the secularity of Christmas in these times has little to do with the roots of the word “yule”, and more a shift of popular ideas about religion. The rationalization comes after the fact, not before.
Regardless, this particular post is concerned with Christmas trees. Just as Western nations pick and choose their religiosity they also vary in their selection of holiday tree decorations. Surfing around the interwebs I found some creative trees.
From Endless Geyser of Awesome, a wonderful Cthulhu tree:
Nothing compliments a Cthulhu tree like A Very Scary Soltice music.
For the geeks, a Pacman tree, via Technablog:
And finally a glimpse at my own Christmas tree, made from a wire Halloween decoration and found objects around the house:
Close-ups of the ornaments: