Tolkien Gateway


Yule was the two days in the calendars of the Hobbits that marked the end of one year and the beginning of the next.[1][note 1] Around them, the six-day festival of Yuletide was held, running from 29 Foreyule through 2 Afteryule.[2]

Due to a peculiarity of the Shire Calendar, the Yuledays always fell on the same days of the week. The last day of the year, 1 Yule, was always a Highday (Friday), while the first day of the following year, 2 Yule, was always a Sterday (Saturday).[1]

The formal use of Yule in the Shire calendar cannot, by definition, predate the foundation of the Shire in T.A. 1601. However, its appearance there represents a survival of an older tradition, and the name 'Yule' for a midwinter festival was known as far from the Shire as Rohan and Gondor.

[edit] Etymology

"Very best wishes for Yule - J. R. R. Tolkien"
― Tolkien to Richard Jeffery[3]

Yule is a translation of a Hobbitish word, not occurring in Westron.[4]

However it's possible that it derives from a form of Northern Mannish and later used in Rohirric. Since Gondorians of the Third Age were in part Northmen, the word was recognisable as a 'northern name' for the midwinter festival.[4]

In Gnomish, one of Tolkien's early conceptions of an Elven language, the word for "Yule(night), i.e. Log-night" is durufui. Tanfui means "Yule night".[5]


  1. On a modern calendar, they fell on the 21 and 22 December.


  1. 1.0 1.1 J.R.R. Tolkien, The Lord of the Rings, Appendix D, "The Shire Calendar"
  2. J.R.R. Tolkien, The Lord of the Rings, Appendix D, "The Calendars"
  3. J.R.R. Tolkien; Humphrey Carpenter, Christopher Tolkien (eds.), The Letters of J.R.R. Tolkien, Letter 347, (dated 17 December 1972)
  4. 4.0 4.1 J.R.R. Tolkien, "Nomenclature of The Lord of the Rings" in Wayne G. Hammond and Christina Scull (eds), The Lord of the Rings: A Reader's Companion, p. 781
  5. J.R.R. Tolkien, "I-Lam na-Ngoldathon: The Grammar and Lexicon of the Gnomish Tongue", in Parma Eldalamberon XI (edited by Christopher Gilson, Arden R. Smith, and Patrick H. Wynne), pp. 31, 69