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Christmas is a happy time - but there are even older traditions - here’s a true Yuletide story from Norse Greenland - about 1005 AD
Posted by: lytle78
Date: December 24, 2018 12:58PM
Having lived a number of years in Norway and closely observed the traditional observance of the 12 days of Yuletide ("Jul" in Norwegian) - I was always struck by how it seemed to be somehow a much bigger and longer thing there than at home in the US. so- here goes - "God Jul og godt Nyttår'

So now, I find it to be a time to think of other, sometimes older traditions such as yule - the germano/scandinavian midwinter festival. The tradition of eating, drinking with no holding back, trusting that the gods - so honored - will grant a prosperous new year - with new flocks and crops - to replace that which had been consumed - and more - This spirit lives on in Norwegian culture.

Here's my favorite Yule story - it takes place in Brattalid in West Greenland - the setllement of Erik the Red, father of Leif Eriksson - about 1005 AD. Here is the translation from Erik the Red's Saga. This is history. This really happened, it's not from a fairy tale or miniseries.


There was a man named Thorfinn Karlsefni, son of Thord Horsehead, who dwelt in the north (of Iceland), at Reynines in Skagafjordr, as it is now called. Karlsefni was a man of good family, and very rich. His mother's name was Thorun. He engaged in trading journeys, and seemed a goodly, bold, and gallant traveller.

One summer Karlsefni prepared his ship, intending to go to Greenland. Snorri, Thorbrand's son, from Alptafjordr, resolved to travel with him, and there were thirty men in the company.

There was a man named Bjarni, Grimolf's son, a man of Breidafjordr (Broadfirth); another called Thorhall, son of Gamli, a man from the east of Iceland. They prepared their ship the very same summer as Karlsefni, with intent also to go to Greenland. They had in the ship forty men.

The two ships launched out into the open sea as soon as they were ready. It is not recorded how long a voyage they had. But, after this, I have to tell you that both these ships came to Eiriksfjordr about autumn.

Eirik rode down to the ships with other men of the land, and a market-fair was promptly instituted. The captains invited Gudrid to take such of the merchandise as she wished, and Eirik displayed on his part much magnificence in return, inasmuch as he invited both these ships' companies home with him to pass the winter in Brattahlid. The merchants accepted the invitation, and went home with Eirik. Afterwards their merchandise was removed to Brattahlid, where a good and large outhouse was not lacking in which to store the goods. The merchants were well pleased to stay with Eirik during the winter.

When now Yule was drawing nigh, Eirik began to look more gloomy than he was wont to be.

Presently Karlsefni entered into conversation with him, and said, "Art thou in trouble, Eirik? it appears to me that thou art somewhat more taciturn than thou hast been; still thou helpest us with much liberality, and we are bound to reward thee according as we have means thereto. Say now what causes thy cheerlessness."

Eirik answered, "You receive hospitality well, and like worthy men. Now, I have no mind that our intercourse together should be expensive to you; but so it is, that it will seem to me an ill thing if it is heard that you never spent a worse Yule than this, just now beginning, when Eirik the Red entertained you at Brattahlid, in Greenland."

Karlsefni answered, "It must not come to such a pass; we have in our ships malt, meal, and corn, and you have right and title to take therefrom whatever you wish, and to make your entertainment such as consorts with your munificence."

And Eirik accepted the offer. Then was preparation made for the Yule-feast, and so magnificent was it that the men thought they had scarcely ever seen so grand a feast.

And after Yule, Karlsefni broached to Eirik the subject of a marriage with Gudrid, which he thought might be under Eirik's control, and the woman appeared to him to be both beautiful and of excellent understanding. Eirik answered and said, that for his part he would willingly undertake his suit, and said, moreover, that she was worthy of a good match. It is also likely, he thought, that she will be following out her destiny, should she be given to him; and, moreover, the report which comes to me of him is good.

The proposals were now laid before her, and she allowed the marriage with her to be arranged which Eirik wished to promote. However, I will not now speak at length how this marriage took place; the Yule festival was prolonged and made into a marriage-feast. Great joy was there in Brattahlid during the winter. Much playing at backgammon and telling of stories went on, and many things were done that ministered to the comfort of the household.




Rick Kempf


Christmas is a happy time - but there are even older traditions - here’s a true Yuletide story from Norse Greenland - about 1005 AD

lytle78205December 24, 2018 12:58PM

Re: Christmas is a happy time - but there are even older traditions - here’s a true Yuletide story from Norse Greenland - about 1005 AD

doc holiday23264December 27, 2018 07:27AM

A visit to Drangey is on my bucket list.N/T

Greg (E.Tn)46December 24, 2018 09:52PM

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