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The Slow Days of Yule

By Daniel Hubbard | January 1, 2014

Life seems to slow down this time of year. It is a bit of a paradox because, of course, Christmas is one of the most hectic of times. Once the shopping madness is over and cooking gives way to warming leftovers, the year comes full circle and there is time to breathe before the holidays give way to just regular January.

Coming full circle is an appropriate way of thinking about this time of year. The English word “Yule” is used as a synonym for Christmas. In Scandinavia the normal word for Christmas is something like “Yule.” In Swedish it is “Jul,” which is pronounced approximately the way English speakers pronounce “Yule.” The original meaning of Yule is more clear in Swedish than in English. The main difference between “Jul” and the Swedish word for “wheel” is a single silent letter. Yule is related to the words wheel and cycle and circle. It is the time when the year comes full circle. One year ends and the next begins. The days grow slowly shorter and shorter then turn around and grow ever so slightly longer. The year has come full circle. We look back on the year that has passed and look forward to the year that is yet to be.

For me this is the time of year that I take a breath and think about how I work, how I organize and how I could do both better. I straighten out my files. I take more time than usual to organize my office. I upgrade software that I have put off upgrading because I didn’t want to disturb projects. I start the new year with everything as up to date as possible. Then I think about what the changes mean to my workflow. What can I now do better? What do I need to do differently? What software can I write myself to help me get from new program A to new feature B? This year I’m starting with several new programs, updated database software and a new operating system. They all bring new possibilities and therefore, maybe new ways of working.

Take a deep breath. Get your genealogy under control. Christmas is over. The year has come full circle. The old year is gone. Happy 2014!


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Topics: Etymology, Genealogy | No Comments »

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