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Dec 18 2008

Posted By: Paul 08/05/2009 07:06:00

This Sunday is the Winter Solstice and in ancient times the most important day of the year for farmers. It is the day when the Sun returns, the days start growing longer and the nights shorter. Which in turn means the plants will start growing again soon and fresh food will be available.

Yule or Jul is the feast celebrated by the Vikings and Scandinavians (and other Germanic peoples) for over a thousand years, and there's some disagreement as to whether the feast is to celebrate the return of the Sun and the return to longer days, or whether it is an agricultural celebration at the end of the labours of the farming year. Either way the outcome was the same a feast of fresh meat and lots of beer. Then people would wait until the days were getting longer to start the winter work.

So as you celebrate your own festive season in which ever way has become your custom. Don't feel guilty about returning to your plants and crops as they too are waiting for the return of the Sun, before they get on with the serious business of growing.

If you will also be partaking in the occasional alcoholic beverage or two, spare a thought for the Viking farmer in Norway who in was traditionally expected to brew 'Jul Beer', and failure to do so resulted in a fine, or even worse his expulsion from his farm. What's more people thought drinking themselves into a stupor on holiday beer and other alcoholic beverages would create a euphoric connection with the Gods. And failure to get drunk at a Viking feast was an insult to the host, implying that his alcohol wasn't good enough.

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