What's in a Word | All Blogs


Christmas in July

By Debra Dobbins

In researching the word July I came across Jul in Webster’s. It also means this month. I’ll tuck Jul away in my mind for my next Scrabble game.

A dabbler in foreign languages, I often make word associations from one language to another. Jul reminds me how Norwegians say Merry Christmas: God Jul. (The first word is spoken as “gu,” and in the second word the “j” is pronounced as a “y.” Norwegians tend to roll the phrase into something that sounds like “guyul” with the accent on the second “syllable.”)


Jul, of course, is similar to our English word Yule. “Yule or Yuletide (‘Yule time’) is a religious festival observed by the historical Germanic peoples and some neighboring peoples, before later being absorbed into, and equated with, the Christian festival of Christmas,” according to Wikipedia.

As a busy teacher, I once sent out Christmas letters in July. I called them Jul i Juli letters (Juli is July in Norwegian, and you may suss out what i is.) My family and friends, however, did not seem full of Yuletide cheer over receiving them. Maybe reading letters while sitting by a warm fire or drinking hot cocoa or coffee is more pleasurable than reading them by a pool or while taking a hike.

At any rate, today I found an interesting story behind the name of the month. It has to do with Julius Caesar and his adventures after he decided to cross the Rubicon. (See entry of Jan. 18.) Look for more details on his influence on our calendar tomorrow.

Illustration special to the Sentinel
 

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