Dec 14, 2021
What’s Yuletide? What’s the difference between Yuletide and Christmas? What is Celtic Christmas music? Plus, hobbits show up in my latest Christmas single.
It’s all on Pub Songs & Stories #246.
Welcome to Pub Songs & Stories. This is the Virtual Public House to share stories and inspiration behind music with your host Marc Gunn. Subscribe to the podcast and download free music at PubSong.com.
0:25 - WHAT’S NEW?
1:46 - WHAT IS YULETIDE?
Here's some of what Wikipedia has to say about Yule:
“Yule is a winter festival historically observed by the Germanic peoples. Much like Christmas, it has pagan roots. Scholars connected the original celebrations of Yule to the Wild Hunt, the god Odin, and the pagan Anglo-Saxon Modraniht.
Later departing from its pagan roots, Yule underwent Christianised reformulation, resulting in the term Christmastide. Some present-day Christmas customs and traditions such as the Yule log, Yule goat, Yule boar, Yule singing, and others may have connections to older pagan Yule traditions.
The Saga of Hákon the Good credits King Haakon I of Norway who ruled from 934 to 961 with the Christianization of Norway as well as rescheduling Yule to coincide with Christian celebrations held at the time. The saga says that when Haakon arrived in Norway he was a confirmed Christian, but since the land was still altogether heathen and the people retained their pagan practices, Haakon hid his Christianity to receive the help of the "great chieftains". In time, Haakon had a law passed establishing that Yule celebrations were to take place at the same time as the Christians celebrated Christmas, "and at that time everyone was to have ale for the celebration with a measure of grain, or else pay fines, and had to keep the holiday while the ale lasted."
Scholars have connected the Yule period to the Wild Hunt (a ghostly procession in the winter sky), the god Odin (who is attested in Germanic areas as leading the Wild Hunt and bears the name Jólnir), and increased supernatural activity, such as the Wild Hunt and the increased activities of draugar—undead beings who walk the earth.
Modraniht, an event focused on collective female beings attested by Bede as having occurred among the pagan Anglo-Saxons on what is now Christmas Eve, has been seen as further evidence of a fertility event during the Yule period.”
You can read more about Yuletide on Wikipedia.
Now I’ve heard it said that JRR Tolkien wrote The Hobbit and Lord of the Rings, in part, to give England its own folk tales. So one of the things I love about my first story is that Yuletide better encapsulates the hobbit winter celebrations than say Christmas. At least in name.
4:55 - STORY OF YULETIDE
During live shows, I talk about the little hobbit village that happens every three years in Kentucky. It’s called ALEP, A Long Expected Party. A gross of Tolkien enthusiasts gather together at the Shaker Village to celebrate all things Lord of the Rings.
Not just celebrate. To Create.
Folks who go to ALEP become a part of the world Tolkien created. Yes, there are amazing stories we get from Michael Drout. But also, there’s art, and writings, and costuming, and music. All by people who love Lord of the Rings so much that they create their own art.
I loved the lyrics for both. “Christmas in the Shire” was the first song that I set to music. It’s also still my favorite Christmas song that I love to hear. I love the melody. But it is nothing without the wholesome down-to-earth lyrics that accompany it.
That’s one of the things I love about hobbits. It’s just down-to-earth. Or down-to-middle-earth as the case may be.
The other song, “Yuletide” sat on my shelf for quite a bit longer.
The lyrics are again down-to-earth. It’s a song about how hobbits celebrate Yuletide. There are invitations to friends. There’s dancing and eating. There’s decorations and drinks. It’s like a sneak peak at hobbit holidays.
While many of the celebration examples that she uses are kind of universal for our modern day celebrations, I feel like there’s something distinctly hobbit about them. That’s what I wanted to capture with the music.
I wrote several melodies over the years. Sadly, I didn’t have a recording for any of them. So I started from scratch this year.
This song was written with the vocal melody first and foremost. I feel like basic hobbit music is a hornpipe rhythm. It’s fun and bouncy in 4/4 time. It’s the type that you can easily sing without an instrument and still get people up dancing.
So that’s how I wrote the melody. I sang it. I added my autoharp. Then Nathan Deese brought the song to life with a mandolin and whistles.
10:18 - FEEDBACK: How do you celebrate Christmas and Yuletide?
10:34 - SUPPORT WHAT YOU LOVE
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11:19 - NEXT TIME - PLANS FOR 2022
I was debating whether I would release more of these episodes. But time is just not my friend. So I decided that this is the final episode of 2021.
I will be back in 2022. However, I’m gonna do things a bit differently. I don’t yet have a start date for the new year. But as I strategically plan. I *think* it won’t begin until February. But I hope to start recording episodes in January. And just build a catalog of episodes that I can release. Just like I plan to do with Coffee with The Celtfather.
If you’re a member of the Gunn Runners Club, I’ll break down my plans a little bit more on Patreon.
12:16 - STORY OF WHAT IS CELTIC CHRISTMAS MUSIC?
In 2014, I recorded a podcast called Celtic Christmas Greetings. It was a short podcast series designed to promote my then brand new album of Christmas music with the same name.
Listening back to the series, I realized it is very much like this show. So I thought I’d replay that podcast here for those who might’ve missed it. The first episode tells the story of how and why I fused Celtic music and Christmas music to create a CD.
Pub Songs & Stories was produced by Marc Gunn. The show is edited by Mitchell Petersen with graphics by Miranda Nelson Designs. You can subscribe and listen wherever you find podcasts. You can also subscribe to my mailing list. You will get regular updates of new music, podcasts, special offers, and you’ll get 21 songs for free. Welcome to the pub at www.pubsong.com!
#godrestyemerrygentlemen #yuletide #celticchristmasmusic