It's Yule eve! And time for our last Yule calendar entry too. It comes from Miss Lina who has once again made a wonderful hobbit Yule video with the help of Laurelin hobbits. This year, she made us go bathing *shivers at the memory* and wassailing and made a video about it! I want to wish a merry Yule to everyone, celebrate it like a true hobbit! And thank you for reading this Yule calendar! The 2017 Laurelin hobbit yule video Miss Lina wrote a bit about the themes of the Yule video and their background: Hobbits and yule First, a few words about the yuletide and what it means for hobbits. This is one of the two major holidays for hobbits, with midsummer/Lithe being the other. The yuletide marks the end of the old year and the start of the new, and it is a time of much feasting and merriment in the Shire. Hobbits enjoy the good life, and so yule is celebrated over six days total (although, some sources say the feasting lasts near two whole weeks). So, what are the yuletide days? 1 Yule is the last day of the old year. This always occurs on a Friday. 2 Yule is the following day and the first day of the new year. Naturally, this always occurs on a Saturday. Hobbits also celebrate on the two days before 1 Yule, namely 29 Foreyule and 30 Foreyule. Similarly, they also celebrate on the two days after 2 Yule, which are 1 Afteryule and 2 Afteryule. That 1 Yule happens on a Friday is no coincidence. Friday (or Highday) is the seventh and last day in the Shire calendar week, and it is a weekly holiday with evening celebrations. On Laurelin, many hobbits choose to spend this holiday at the Green Dragon inn in Bywater, relaxing and having fun together after a long week of work. While much is known about the yuletide from a calendar perspective, surprisingly little is written about hobbit yule traditions: What does the “feasting and merriment” actually entail? It is fair to assume that any hobbit celebration involves long and plentiful meals, though, based on hearty foods prepared for the yuletide. As for the rest, we have to guess, perhaps seeking inspiration from old winter solstice traditions. If yer ask me, it involves a fair bit of preparation of foods and fine brews. It likely means a yule bath (ack!). Hobbits dress in their finest clothes, especially those of wealthy families. Candles and fireplaces are lit, burrows are decorated. Families and good friends gather. Songs are sung, tales are told, pipeweed is smoked… and possibly some mathoms are shared too? There is not much information about yule traditions in other corners of Middle-Earth, although some sort of winter solstice celebrations were found all over (apart from with the elves, of course, them being all contrary and strange as usual). The term yule is found in the Shire calendar, created after hobbits crossed the Brandywine and settled in the Shire in Third Age 1601. This calendar was based on the King’s Reckoning, which has no mention of yule. So one theory is that Shire hobbits tailored the yuletide into their own version of the winter solstice holiday. Other sources say that yule hails from a term used by the Northmen of old, and that it later found its way into the Rohirric language (and likely into Hobbitish as well). Apparently, in the lands of Gondor, the term was used as a northern name for the midwinter festival. What stories to tell in the 2017 video? The hobbit yule videos typically consist of two vignettes, each based on a meetup where we shoot some video footage. These shoots are not really scripted. I have some loose ideas, then we get to work and see whether things turns into magic or mud. Lastly, I try to make some sense of it all when I edit the video, sprinkling it all with hobbity holiday cheer. A recurring issue each year is what kind of “story” to tell in these vignettes, not least since we know so little about hobbit yule traditions, as discussed above. This year, I went for two recurring things in the way the hobbit roleplayers on Laurelin celebrates: The yule bath and the tradition of wassailing. Bathing A bath is a staple in the yule preparation for Laurelin hobbits, and a dreaded tradition for some. Many a hobbit child has been dunked in the bathing tub and treated to ma’s very strict scrubbing of their grimy offspring’s hide. It is then no surprise that quite a few hobbits are very wary during the foreyule, given that it is time for a bath (and for some, the annual bath). Of course, if you bathe before yule, you should do it properly. This year we surely did, in the frosty lake in southern Forochel, near Kauppa-Kohta. This village has long been a favourite spot for these videos, since the scenery is grand and snowy and the night skies are absolutely beautiful. Although the actors took a fair bit of time to thaw up afterwards this year. I never heard such moaning and whimpering before… I often end up doing a lot of chopping and splicing of my videos, selecting the scenes I think work best in keeping with the rhythm of the music. Imagine my absolute joy when I found a long, 30-second take with camera movements that matched the rhythm closely. You’ll find it in one of the dance scenes near the end of the vignette. The bathing vignette is somewhat inspired by my video of The Bath Song, where we tried to make a hobbit water ballet. What better piece of music, then, than a proper ballet: Waltz of the Flowers. Swim gracefully, hobbits! Wassail wassale Wassailing is an old English tradition, which basically involves a lot of singing. There are two traditional categories of wassailing: The house wassail, where people go from door to door to sing and offer a drink from the wassail bowl. Gifts may be exchanged too. The orchard wassail, where people visit orchards in cider-producing areas to sing to the trees, recite incantations and offer blessings and wishes for a good harvest. In some cases, this also involves making a lot of racket and noise to chase away any ill spirits from the orchards. Among the Laurelin hobbits, wassailing has long been a tradition around the winter solstice. Every year, we go wassailing through Winterhome, singing yule songs to thank the locals for inviting us to celebrate with them. Additionally, in the new year we go on a Shire wassailin the orchards to wish for a good harvest. The wassailing usually involves drinking copious amounts of cider, so these a merry occasions indeed. I wanted to try combine house and orchard wassails in one vignette in this year’s video. The video starts out slowly, then gets increasingly hectic (with lots of edits and cuts) as the wassailers go deeper into their cider mugs. In the end, chaos breaks out and the rhythm is tossed out of the window, perhaps leaving the viewer feeling just as confused as the drunken wassailers? Hopefully it is not too much! Of course, the piece of music used is a version of “Here we come a wassaling”. Couldn’t use a different song, really!