THE HISTORY OF YULE: How it all begun 1.2

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So where did they come from, these holidays that we all celebrate? Contrary to popular belief, they didn’t begin with Christmas.

Rather, they started over four thousand years ago in ancient Egypt.

The occasion? An extravagant party to cele­brate the rebirth of Horus-the god who appeared in the sky as a fiery orb each day-the same orb we know today as the Sun.

Because the Egyp­ tians honored Horus with a twelve-month calendar, the fes­tival lasted twelve days with each day symbolizing one month.

Buildings were decorated with greenery of all sorts to honor the Sun.

The most valued decorations, however, were palm branches with twelve fronds.

The reason for their value was simple: Because palm branches put out one shoot each month, a twelve-fronded branch formed a type of

This made them a great representation of the entire birth, death, and rebirth cycle of the Sun; using them to honor the Sun was believed to speed His growth and strength, and encourage Him to stay in the sky longer.

The Egyptians flourished, and word of their Sun-welcoming ceremonies quickly swept through Mesopotamia.

Believing that the rituals were at the heart of their neighbors’ prosperity, the Babylonians took up the cause and got in on the act.

However, they called it Zagmukl and incorporated their own Creator/Sun god, Marduk.

The Babylonians believed that Marduk had created the world, and made itone of order, beauty, and peace.

It hadn’t been an easy task, however-first, he’d had to fight a grueling battle and defeat the monsters of chaos.

Each year, everything went along splendidly until the cooler weather brought winter; then the monsters regained their strength and once again challenged Marduk’s reign.

The battle was on and lasted for twelve days, but Marduk could no longer defeat the monsters by Himself He needed the help of the people.

It was their job to cheer Him on and help Him win the war.

Only then could order be restored, and beauty and peace on Earth be renewed.

The Zagmuk festival began five days before Winter Solstice and lasted six daysafter, with the peak of the festival falling on the Solstice itself On the seventh day, the Sun stayed in the sky longer-a sure sign that Marduk was well on his way to victory.

This resulted in parades on land and river, good tidings, and the occasional exchange of gifts.

The world was renewed for another year, and all was right with the Babylonian people.