Midwinter in Middle-Earth: Yule be Glad?
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We see in the calendars of the LotR appendix D that midwinter or Yule dates are recognized in the Shire, which of course correspond to the (northern hemisphere) winter solstice. In preChristian eras (and don’t forget Christmas was probably artificially timed to coincide with the various pagan solstice observances, Gospel textual clues imply the Man Who was Eru Incarnate foretold by Finrod to Andreth was probably actually born in summer), the people were offered hope because the days would stop shortening and start lengthening, (i.e. the Sun will ‘return’ and the Sun-god is ‘reborn’). Plenty of meat for feasting was made available as in northern Europe livestock was culled to prepare for the months of famine before full spring, while ale and wine was fully fermented and ready to drink.

We need not doubt that the Hobbits’ two Yule days featured feasts and drinking, as Hobbits needed little excuse to engage in those activities anytime. Did the Hobbits, or any other denizens of Middle-Earth, have any tradition of midwinter gift-giving or the ‘magical’ appearance of gifts bestowed by some demiurgical entity? While the Arda Epoch long predated Bishop Nicholas of Myra as well as Christianity itself, could there have been some analogue, if not perhaps prototype, of our Father Christmas bestowing gifts, his servant Elves handling his tasks, maybe even such contrarian traditions as the Krampus?

Given that in the "classical" cosmology in which Arda was flat before the Downfall of Númenór there would have been no mechanism behind the seasons that depended on a spherical Earth, would such traditions have only arisen in the Third Age? Or does the "Myths Transformed" reform of the model hold sway as the Earth was always round and the Sun always existed (even if augmented for a time by the Two Trees)? Could some sort of tradition have arisen inspired by the escape of Arien the Sun-"goddess" from Melkor?

We do find that in the history of Middle-Earth, there was indeed a time when a Lord of Gifts was extant, for whom Elves had toiled (not at the North Pole, but in the Land of Holly) in the crafting of the rings he bestowed. Could he perhaps have become associated with Midwinters Day?

(Some tellers even aver, perhaps apocryphally, that he was served by, among other strange and terrible servitors, a tall silent Elf with white hair who invariably wore gauntlets and dark armor, who hunted down and took lethal vengeance upon those who offended the Lord of Gifts!)
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#2
(December 21st, 2019, 02:25 PM)Alvin Eriol Wrote: ::: snip:::
(Some tellers even aver, perhaps apocryphally, that he was served by, among other strange and terrible servitors, a tall silent Elf with white hair who invariably wore gauntlets and dark armor, who hunted down and took lethal vengeance upon those who offended the Lord of Gifts!)
Apocryphal. perhaps.  I believe you are referring to Krampus?  

As for the winter Solstice, I think that the Noldor, at least, had a festival at that time of year.  In my fan-fictions, I call it "Sun-return".  Weak stuff, I suppose.  But it is based upon the events of "The Fall of Gondolin", in which the people of that hidden kingdom were caught unprepared for the assault of Morgoth because it was a time of festival, marking the shortest day of the year.  The Elves were gathered on the eastern mountains awaiting the light of the rising sun; but the light rose in the north, and was not sunlight but dragon-fire.
"Never ask an Elf for advice, for he will say both 'Yes' and 'No'." - Frodo Baggins to Gildor Inglorion
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