In Old English, Christmas day was called geol (not to be confused with gaol, which is jail--ha ha ha), taken from Old Norse jol. Jol was a heathen feast day, taken over by English so long ago that no one's sure exactly when it happened. Though we do know that "jolly" comes from jol. ;-)
Origianlly, geol, or yule, meant solely Christmas Day. It also happens that there was a cognate, giuli, that was the Anglo-Saxon name for a two-month midwinter season of feasting, so the two got mixed together. When English first borrowed the word, it meant the 12 Day Feast of Christmas--December 25 through January 6, the Epiphany. It was largely replaced by the word Christmas by the eleventh century, except for in Danish-settled parts of England.
Writers, however, revived the word in the 19th century to capture the particular charm of Christmas in Merry Ol' England. Oh yes, it's always the writers, LOL.
Yultide (literally yule time or Christmastime) was recorded in the 15th century, and the first written mention of the yule log is from the 17th century and was a ceremonially chosen log (sometimes and entire tree) picked to have an enduring burn for Christmas.
Can you believe there's less than a week until Christmas?? I hope everyone is enjoying this yuletide season!
And today I'm on Go Teen Writers! It was a fun interview, so be sure to check it out to learn what I would do if captured by kidnappers. ;-)