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Eldbjörgdagr, 13. day of Yule

Eldbjørgdagen is not so well known today, but it is held to varying degrees in the countryside. It marks the end of the Yule celebration. Eldbjørg means "fire rescue"(through dark time), glowing red morning, new time and New Year.

The day falls in the month Landvíði - "woodland" - home to the god Viðarr (the brave) (the avenger of the winter beast / wolf Fenris, the offspring of Hel / winter). The month is also called Mörsugr, Jólmánaðr (Yule month, fatmonth), with the zodiac sign Steingeitarmerki (Capricorn) in the Iron Age calendar.

Eldbjørgdagen is also called Atundi Dagr (13th day of Yule). On this day Yule should be cleared out. In Sweden, this particular day is still a holiday. Our pagan Yule is a tribute to ancestors, and nature's cycle and re-balancing. Therefore, the spirits of the ancestors should return to their proper element. Therefore, the day is also called "the departure day". The Yule was cleaned out with a broom of birch - Bjørk (of Norse Bjarkan) representing Frøy / Frøya (birth / love / fertility / summer).

At Yule tide our ancestors are with us (at least in our thoughts and memory), and many places in rural Norway have been customary and used until a few decades ago to leave the food on the table Yule night, so that symbolically the ancestors would also enjoy it. Yule was about ancestral cult, and symbolic images of this, as earlier mentioned.

A romantic representation of a “Jólasvein”. This one is called Hurðaskellir (doors that slam).

He has a small body (child), but a bearded and adult head (the ancestor), and of course with the symbolic red cap…

Until 20th day of Yule is the last chance to eat and drink everything left from the celebrations. On Primstaven, this is marked with a drinking horn facing down (empty).

Now also the young children who have lost their teeth and underwent the Yule rituals are symbolically reborn, and have taken the names of their ancestors. One has gone the Jólabukk procession and introduced himself with his proper name, and received his gifts - at the symbolic Ragnarok (last day of the year / New Year's Eve), and symbolically "killed the winter". All the chaos forces in the story of Ragnarok also represent winter in our myths. At this time (after seven days of Yule), torches were lit, rolled burning sun wheels and fire was sent downhill and up in the air to chase away the winter and wish the light / sun / Balder back. Today we unfortunately use modern fireworks.

The story of Ragnarok in Völuspá is also a tale of one year of seasons from start to finish, personified - such as the fairytales. The world at all levels is born again. The old and the dead are to be “cleansed out”, in the same way as a physical birth.

Eldbjørgdagen is marked by the fact that ancestors have gone back, as described above, and that Balder / the sun is returning. Naturally, it is also so cosmological that it is on this day that the sun begins to grow stronger after the solstice. It goes towards brighter times.

On this day, you should drink “Eldbjørg Memorial”. The housewife brought out a bowl [1], and offered beer / mead, bread and meat on the fire and said - (excerpt from the book Ætterarv by Knut Hermundstad (Vang in Valdres);

«So høgt min eld,

men inkji høgare og heitare hell»

«So high, my fire,

but not higher or hotter either”

By Adolph Tideman.

This marks the wish for a good year, in balance, a tribute to the fire / sun / life. It is precisely at this time that the hibernating bear turns in the cave for the first time after the She-Bear gave birth to the cubs around winter solstice (the pagan Yule Night, "Mother's Night").

After the forced Christianization, the day was renamed the “the holy day of three kings” [2], based on a completely foreign desert story from Matthew's gospel. They dedicated it to St. Knut, who, on par with Olav the Holy, betrayed his own people and “purified them” with power abuse, coercion, murder and violence towards those who did not bow their heads to the new foreign Christianity.


[1] The day was also called "Eldborg's cheers" and "departure day", as it was this day the ancestral spirits returned after Yule.

[2] In pagan times, at this time we had "the crown of the holy kings". Herein lies our tradition of almond/nut/bean in the porridge and the crown cake. This ritual was held at this time, as the sun grew stronger. The crown itself symbolizes this. The almond/nut/bean the child receives symbolizes the loss of the teeth. "The Three Kings" symbolizes the three cycles, the three high festivals, and the three stages of a pregnancy, before the rebirth of on coming winter solstice.

Note: Some sources state the pagan New Year's Day to be the day around November 1 (Valaskjálfr / Ýlir, Frermánuður), at Halloween. Others declare it to be after seven days of Yule (after the solstice). In this context, this detail is not important, because “fire rescue day” marks the end of Yule, and that the sun becomes noticeably stronger again.

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