Jul is the Norwegian word for Yule, and even though it originally was a pagan festival, we use this word for Christmas and the days around Christmas. Jol is from Old Norse. My Y blog musings is about the Yule time.
I have written about the loss many third culture and cross cultural children and children who has been forced to move lots, feel about never being able to be part of building traditions. See for instance post about losses or distance. Third culture children or children who move to a new place notice that there have been things happening in their absence: birthday parties, establishing of Christmas celebration traditions, or habits and culture within a family that outsiders don’t understand, inside jokes. Christmas celebration is one of these times of year that are closely linked to traditions and family and can be difficult for those on the outside of such bonds. Yule is about eating and drinking together with others, just like the vikings did for midwinter festivas.
When I started to date steadily, it became a topic if I should celebrate Christmas with my boyfriends’ families or they with my family. My boyfriends almost claimed that their Christmas was destroyed if they couldn’t eat what they had eaten for Christmas dinner since they were children, or if the pork, fish or sheep wasn’t made just like their mother made it. Or the other rituals they were used to. For them, Yule time was all about traditions. But, I’m not sure I liked all traditions I met. I remember one of my earliest boyfriends whom I celebrated Christmas with. When dinner was eaten, he used to go to his room and watch television. Even on Christmas Eve. And I thought, how sad.
But I didn’t have any Christmas traditions. Sure we had traditions in my family, but it was different traditions in my family in Norway and in Iceland. Also, I rarely had a Christmas celebration in one place, ate the same food or celebrated with the same people. In Africa we Norwegians often celebrated together, often with other Nordic people. In West Africa we were only five Norwegians living in the country at the time. Being together was the important.
As child back in Norway I envied those who spent days ahead of Christmas preparing. Their days seemed full of activities. My mother never had time or energy for that. But she was also a newcomer at all the places we moved, not familiar with the traditions at the new place.
For the last decade, we siblings have tried to make some traditions, celebrating together at least every second year. Probably mostly because there are children there now. We also try to eat Icelandic sheep for Christmas when we have the opportunity. A few go to church before dinner Christmas Eve and there is a tradition to eat breakfast together on the 25th.