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Yuletide Chills: The Wild Hunt

2 Dec

For most of us December is all about Christmas and over the coming month I intend to delve deep into the history, folklore and mythology concerning this time of year and the traditions associated with it. The winter festival of Yuletide, originally celebrated from late December to early January by early Teutonic tribes across Europe was the precursor of the Christian festival of Christmas. Whilst initially the festival was on a date determined by the phases of the moon, much like Easter still is, Yuletide was placed on December 25 when the Julian calendar was adopted. Other than the date and a few other superficial similarities, the pagan religious festival of Yule has little in common with Christmas. It was traditionally a time of sacrifice, when idols of heathen deities were sprinkled with blood, duels were fought and life was celebrated in the bleak midwinter. Scholars have also connected the celebration of Yule to the ancient folk myth of the Wild Hunt, in which a spectral group of huntsmen were said to be seen in mad pursuit across the skies.

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