The Ancient Language of Christmas

The Ancient Language of Christmas

More than any other holiday, Christmas has spawned a language of its own. Words like yule, noel, and wassail are reserved exclusively for the Christmas season.

Yuletide has been synonymous with Christmas since at least 900 AD, according to the Guinness Book of Christmas (Guinness). The word yule was derived from the Norse word, Jól, a heathen feast which lasted 12 days. The feast was so important that the Anglo-Saxon name for December (aerra-geola) translates to “before yule” and January (aftera-geola)
means “after yule.”

Noel originated as an expression of joy for the birth of Christ. It comes from the Latin word “natalis” or birth. Residents of Gaul (France) dropped the “t” sound and it became “na’al” and evolved as “noel.”

Wassail is the name of a beverage and was also used as a greeting such as “Wassail, my friend, and drink to a happy noel.” Wassail can also be a carol.

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