|Yule celebrations at the winter solstice predate Christianity. There are many references to Yule in the Icelandic sagas but few accounts of how Yule was celebrated beyond the fact it was a time for feasting. The ritual of slaughtering a boar on Yule survives in the modern tradition of the Christmas ham.
According to the medieval English writer the Venerable Bede, Christian missionaries sent to proselytize among the Germanic peoples of northern Europe were instructed to superimpose Christian themes upon existing local pagan holidays, to ease the conversion of the people to Christianity by allowing them to retain their traditional celebrations. Thus, Christmas was created by associating stories of the birth of Jesus of Nazareth, the central figure of Christianity, with the existing pagan Yule celebrations, similar to the formation of Halloween and All Saint's Day via Christianization of existing pagan traditions. The Germanic peoples celebrated Yule from late December to early January on a date determined by the lunar Germanic calendar. When the Julian calendar was adopted in northern Europe, Yule was placed on December 25 to correspond with the date of Christmas, but was originally on December 21. Modern Yule traditions include decorating a fir or spruce tree, burning a Yule log, hanging mistletoe and holly branches, giving gifts, and general celebration and merriment. Above all, it should be remembered that the rebirth of the sun was the central theme and that the renewal of time was celebrated with joy and forgiveness.