Terms with an etymological equivalent to “Yule” are still used in the Nordic Countries for the Christian Christmas, but also for other religious holidays of the season. In modern times this has gradually led to a more secular Tradition under the same name as Christmas. Yule is also used to a lesser extent in English-speaking countries to refer to Christmas. Customs such as the Yule log, Yule goat, Yule boar, Yule singing, and others stem from Yule. In modern times, Yule is observed as a cultural festival and also with religious rites by some Christians and by some Neopagans.
The peak of Icelandic jol is when presents are exchanged on adfangadagskvold, the evening of December 24, then the gifts are given. It is a custom to eat hamborgarhryggur (smoked pork loin) or rock ptarmigan. Before Christmas some people cut patterns into laufabraud (e. leaf bread) and bake piparkokur (e. ginger biscuits).
On ?orlaksmessa (mass of Saint Thorlakur), December 23, there is a tradition (originally from the Westfjords) to serve fermented skata (stingray) with melted tallow and boiled potatoes. Boiling the Christmas hangikjot (smoked leg or shoulder of lamb) on ?orlaksmessa evening is said to dispel the strong smell which otherwise tends to linger around the house for days. The hangikjot and laufabraud are usually served at Christmas Day, December 25.
Unlike other countries there are 13 traditional jolasveinar Yule Lads that play the same role as the Santa Claus. The first one comes to town from the mountains December 11 and the last one arrives 13 days later on December 24. Children leave their shoe in the window and the Yule Lads leave something in the shoe when they arrive in town. If the children are naughty they might get a potato but if they are nice they might get something good, like candy, an apple or a toy. The Yule Lads all carry a specific name that describes his actions. For instance, the sixth one is Pot-Scraper and what he does best is to scrape leftovers from pots.
December 26 is generally reserved for family gatherings. It involves a lot of eating with relatives, usually with cousins and aunts and uncles.
Free e-books (can be downloaded):Bylaws - Unicorn Tradition Of Wicca
Al Selden Leif - 6 Questions On Wicca And Paganism
Stephen Flowers - The Galdrabok An Icelandic Grimoire