Is Santa-Clause the impostor who replaced Odin, the Norse God?

The story begins a long time ago, with a celebration called Yuletide (or Yule). An old Pagan, Celtic celebration observed by the Germanic people during the Roman Era. 

Yule is in fact a celebration of the winter solstice.

It is the time of the longest night and shortest day of the year. During this celebration, The pagans danced, cheered, drank, and prayed for the return of the light after darkness.   The ritual often involved meal and gift-giving. Animals were sacrificed in a ritualistic manner and then served as food in a banquet. The traditions many people practice today, such as the Christmas trees as well as wreaths, come directly from the pagan tradition of tree worship. In Northern Europe, the druids who were the priests of the Celts decorated their temples with evergreen boughs to symbolize eternal life. Mistletoe was also used by the druids in a great ritual as an elixir to cure poison and infertility. 

And then one day, the good old Christians arrived. With them, they brought:

interpretatio christiana.  

This was the act in which the Christians took all the pagan beliefs, and modified them into their own. It was a way to gain control over the pagans, a strategy to convert everyone into Christians with the least resistance. They put crosses on historical statues and pagan Gods were turned into Christian Saints. 

And what of Santa Clause? 

They took him too. 

You might be surprised to know that while scholars have connected the Yule celebration to the Christmas that is celebrated today, Yule was associated with the God Odin. The same guy who walks alongside Thor and Loki.

Since the origins of Christmas were in Fact the Yuletide celebration that was taken from the pagans and converted into the Christmas we know today, Odin was also Christianized and transformed into a jolly Santa Clause.

So who really was Odin?

In Norse Mythology, Odin was a God associated with wisdom, healing knowledge poetry, and victory. On a darker note, he was also associated with death, the gallows, war, and battles. 

Just like our Jolly Santa Clause that we know today, the Norse God Odin also had a long white beard. He was often accompanied by animals who in the pagan tradition are referred to as familiars. His familiars were two wolves who were named Geri and Freki, and two ravens who were named Huginn and Muninn. Just like Santa Clause, he rode in the sky but instead of riding a sleigh and being pulled by reindeer, he rode a flying eight-legged steed called Sleipnir who flew across the sky and into the underworld. 

Throughout history, Odin was given more than 170 different names. This makes Odin the God with the most known names among the Germanic people. 

Fun Fact

Did you know that our day of the week Wednesday is named after Odin? 

Indeed, one of Odin’s known names is Woden. Wednesday translated from old English as a day of the Woden: Wodnesdaeg

The powerful lady-pharaoh that ruled over ancient Egypt.

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