Christmas ham

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A traditional Christmas ham in modern Sweden.

A Christmas ham or Yule ham is a traditional dish associated with modern Christmas and historical Yule. The tradition is believed to have begun among the Germanic peoples as a tribute to Freyr, a god in Germanic paganism associated with boars (see Sonargöltr), harvest and fertility.[1]


According to some folklorists and historians[2] the Christmas ham's origins in England lay in a:

"tradition [that] was initiated in all probability on the Isle of Britain by the Anglo-Saxons, although our knowledge of it comes substantially from medieval times....[In ancient Norse tradition] sacrifice carried the intent of imploring Freyr to show favor to the new year. The boar's head with apple in mouth was carried into the banquet hall on a gold or silver dish to the sounds of trumpets and the songs of minstrels."[3]

In Scandinavia and England, Saint Stephen may have inherited some of Freyr's legacy. His feast day is December 26 and thus he came to play a part in the Yuletide celebrations which were previously associated with Freyr. In old Swedish art, Stephen is shown as tending to horses and bringing a boar's head to a Yuletide banquet.[4] Both elements are extra-canonical and may be pagan survivals.

The Christmas ham (Yule Ham), is often associated with modern Christmas. This tradition is suggested to have begun among the Germans as a tribute to Freyr, the god of Germanic Paganism who is associated with boars, harvest, and fertility

(Tidholm, P & Lija, A. 2014).

Sweden Traditions[edit]

Swedes celebrate Christmas in roughly the same way, and many of the local customs and specialities have disappeared, although each family claims to celebrate it in true fashion in their own particular way. (Tidholm, P & Lija, A. 2014)

The classic dishes for a Swedish Christmas meal includes, Christmas ham, pork sausage, an egg and anchovy mixture (gubbröra), herring salad, pickled herring, home-made liver pâté, wort-flavoured rye bread (vörtbröd), potatoes and a special fish dish. (Tidholm, P & Lija, A. 2014)

The way the ham is served it is done in the way of the ham being boiled first, then painted and glazed with a mixture of egg, breadcrumbs and mustard. (Tidholm, P & Lija, A. 2014)

Australian Traditions[edit]

Australian Style of Christmas Ham

Ham is a traditional Australian dish that features on most tables on Christmas Day. It is cooked and served in many ways all around the Australia, with many families adding their own secrets to the ham creating it such a special aspect of a Christmas lunch or dinner.

'Christmas in Australia comes at the beginning of summer and many people no longer serve a traditional hot roast dinner. Cold turkey and ham, seafood and salads are often served instead' (2009)

See also[edit]


(2014). Christmas is Ham Time in Australia [Image]. Retrieved from

(2009). Christmas Season Celebration in Australia. Retrieved from

Tidholm, P., & Lija, A. (2014). A Family Affair. Retrieved from

  1. ^ Ellis Davidson, H.R. Gods And Myths Of Northern Europe (1965) ISBN 0140136274
  2. ^ Chambers, Edmund Kerchever. The Mediaeval Stage (Page 257) (1903)
  3. ^ Spears, James E. Folklore, Vol. 85, No. 3. (Autumn, 1974), pp. 194-198. JSTOR
  4. ^ Berger, Pamela (1985). The Goddess Obscured: Transformation of the Grain Protectress from Goddess to Saint Boston: Beacon Press. ISBN 0-8070-6723-7. pp. 105-112.