As a Christian, it would be important to know the origins of something that claims to be associated with Christ, and that is caroling.  Let’s see what we can find out:


A Christmas carol (also called a noël) is a carol (song or hymn) whose lyrics are on the theme of Christmas, and which is traditionally sung on Christmas itself or during the surrounding holiday season. Christmas carols may be regarded as a subset of the broader category of Christmas music.

In England and other countries, such as Poland (koleda), Romania (colinde) and Bulgaria (koledari), there is a tradition of Christmas caroling (earlier known as wassailing), in which groups of singers travel from house to house, singing carols, for which they are often rewarded with gifts, money, mince pies, or a glass of an appropriate beverage.

Ref: Miles, Clement, Christmas customs and traditions, Courier Dover Publications, 1976

Wassailing

The tradition of wassailing (alt sp wasselling) falls into two distinct categories: The House-Visiting wassail and the Orchard-Visiting wassail.

The House-Visiting wassail, caroling by another name, is the practice of people going door-to-door singing Christmas carols. The Orchard-Visiting wassail refers to the ancient custom of visiting orchards in cider-producing regions of England, reciting incantations and singing to the trees to promote a good harvest for the coming year.

ref: http://www.oed.com/ Oxford English Dictionary

In recent times, the toast (Wassailing) has come to be synonymous with Christmas, but since Christianity gradually replaced the indigenous Anglo-Saxon religion around the 7th and 8th centuries, there is no evidence that the traditional ceremony of wassailing is Christian in origin.

Although wassailing is often described in innocuous and sometimes nostalgic terms, the practice in England has not always been considered so innocent. Wassailing was associated with rowdy bands of young men who would enter the homes of wealthy neighbours and demand free food and drink (in a manner similar to the modern children’s Halloween practice of trick-or-treating). If the householder refused, he was usually cursed, and occasionally his house was vandalized.

Ref: English Christmas Carols – Christmas Songs of England

Wassailing also refers to drinking (and singing) the health of trees in the hopes that they might better thrive. An old rhyme goes:

Wassaile the trees, that they may beare You many a Plum and many a Peare:
For more or lesse fruits they will bring, As you do

The purpose of wassailing is to awake the cider apple trees and to scare away evil spirits to ensure a good harvest of fruit in the Autumn. The ceremonies of each wassail vary from village to village but they generally all have the same core elements. A wassail King and Queen lead the song and/or a processional tune to be played/sung from one orchard to the next, the wassail Queen will then be lifted up into the boughs of the tree where she will place toast soaked in Wassail from the Clayen Cup as a gift to the tree spirits (and to show the fruits created the previous year). Then an incantation is usually recited such as

Here’s to thee, old apple tree, That blooms well, bears well.
Hats full, caps full, Three bushel bags full, An’ all under one tree.
Hurrah! Hurrah!

Then the assembled crowd will sing and shout and bang drums and pots & pans and generally make a terrible racket until the gunsmen give a great final volley through the branches to make sure the work is done and then off to the next orchard.

Perhaps unbeknownst to the general public, this ancient English tradition is still very much thriving today. A folktale from Somerset reflecting this custom tells of the “Apple Tree Man”, the spirit of the oldest apple tree in an orchard, and in whom the fertility of the orchard is said to reside. In the tale a man offers his last mug of mulled cider to the trees in his orchard and is rewarded by the Apple Tree Man who reveals to him the location of buried treasure.

Ref: Sue, Clifford; Angela, King (2006). England in Particular: A Celebration of the Commonplace, the Local, the Vernacular and the Distinctive.

Now, let’s get to the bottom-line origin of Christmas Carols:

Yule Goat

A folk tale depiction of Father Christmas riding on a goat. This may be where the reindeer originated (Wikipedia)

The Yule goat is a Scandinavian and Northern European Yule and Christmas symbol and tradition. Its origin may be Germanic pagan, and the figure has existed in many variants during Scandinavian history.

The custom of wassailing is sometimes called “going Yule goat” in Scandinavia. The Yule goat’s origins might go as far back as pre-Christian days. A popular theory is that the celebration of the goat is connected to worship of the Norse god Thor, who rode the sky in a chariot drawn by two goats, Tanngrisnir and Tanngnjóstr. (in my opinion, the origins of flying reindeer)

The last sheaf of grain bundled in the harvest was credited with magical properties as the spirit of the harvest and saved for the Yule celebrations, called among other things “Julbocken” (the Yule goat).  A man-sized goat figure is known from 11th-century remembrances of Childermas, where it was led by a man dressed as Saint Nicholas, symbolizing his control over the Devil.

The function of the Yule goat has differed throughout the ages. In a Scandinavian tradition similar to wassailing, held at either Christmas or Epiphany, young men in costumes would walk between houses singing songs, enacting plays and performing pranks. This tradition is known from the 17th century and continued in places into the early 20th century. The group of Christmas characters would often include the Yule goat, a rowdy and sometimes scary creature demanding gifts.  But the goat gradually became a nicer being. In the eighteenth century the Christmas goat was the being coming with the gifts. He is nowadays replaced by the Christmas Man, at first similar to the brownie who lived in the barn of the farms, but now the American type similar to the Santa Claus is what you see.

ref:  “The Straw Goat

Julbocken , or the Christmas Goat (1912)

During the 19th century the Yule goat’s role all over Scandinavia shifted towards becoming the giver of Christmas gifts, with one of the men in the family dressing up as the Yule goat.  In this, there might be a relation to Santa Claus and the Yule goat’s origin in the medieval celebrations of Saint Nicholas.

The Yule goat in Scandinavia today is best known as a Christmas ornament. This modern version of the Yule goat figure is a decorative goat made out of straw and bound with red ribbons, a popular Christmas ornament often found under the Yule tree or Christmas tree.

Ref:Rossel, Sven H.; Elbrönd-Bek, Bo (1996). Christmas in Scandinavia.

THOR:

Old Norse Þórr, Old English ðunor, Old High German Donar, Old Saxon thunar, and Old Frisian thuner are cognates within the Germanic language branch, descending from the Proto-Germanic masculine noun *þunraz ‘thunder’.

Ref: Orel, Vladimir (2003). A Handbook of Germanic Etymology. Brill.

THOR is the derivation of Nimrod, as you can plainly see in my other postings of Nimrod. As a side note, The swastika symbol has been identified as representing the hammer or lightning of Thor.

Detail of swastika on the 9th century Snoldelev Stone (ref: Wikipedia)

Scholar Hilda Ellis Davidson (1965) comments on the The Straw Goat usage of the swastika as a symbol of Thor:

The protective sign of the hammer was worn by women, as we know from the fact that it has been found in women’s graves. It seems to have been used by the warrior also, in the form of the swastika. […] Primarily it appears to have had connections with light and fire, and to have been linked with the sun-wheel.

Ref: Worsaae, J. J. A. (1882). The Industrial Arts of Denmark.Ref

So, as we see, the practice of “Christmas Caroling” has it’s roots, as do all secular practices, in ancient occultic beliefs based on the first AntiChrist, Nimrod.

 

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