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Advent Calendar of Winter Mythos Day 3: Ullr, Ullin, or Ull

Updated: Dec 3, 2023

Norse mythology, Scandinavian, Germanic

200 CE to 3rd Century

Meet the Winter God of Norse Mythology. As you are aware thanks to mainstream media and Marvel, the legends here are no strangers to the cold with frost giants being an adversary, but let’s take a step back take a look at Ullr. His name derives from the word meaning ‘glory’ and was first noted to appear in the 3rd century. Not only was he the god of winter, but also hunting, skiing, and archery and was responsible for ruling over Asgard when Odin wasn’t there. Also, side note, he’s the stepson of Thor and related to Odin by blood, though we’ve lost the information as to who his father was as none is reference in what Norse texts we do possess. Most we know are oral traditions and the rare written hint through archeological finds much like the rest of the Norse pantheon. Throughout Europe you can find placed named after him, but he was said to reside in his hall Ydalir, or Yew Dales. This was a common type of wood bows were made from in ancient Scandinavia.

Outside of the apparent roles of legendary archery and the deity of the ski slopes, he had a more vital part of the culture: the god of oaths and combat. Unlike other winter mythological figures, this is one of the few warriors among the snow. Even so, to be the master of this type of weather and want to do battle seems like a very opposite message from the other tales of “stay in if it’s cold and snowing” to a “you took an oath, now let’s go to battle – grab your bow and skis!” With this in mind, it now makes sense why his name means glory and fame. He always has his bow, skis or snowshoes, and ring, though it makes it very clear that these aren’t necessarily magical if at all. Surprisingly, there’s large emphasis of it’s his skills that put him above even Thor’s ability to defeat him in the matters of archery, especially while skiing.

“By Ullr’s Ring” was a common phrase to indication they had sworn an oath in regard to what was discussed just before uttering these invoking words. Going against and oath in his name could even invoke the rage of Thor and Odin as well, adding to this kinship shared with this god. At some point there was indication of a female counterpart, Ullin, in which carried the same set of prized skill though female or possibly a means of indication Lady Ullr or even a twin that also signifies they were of royal blood as seen with Freyr and Freya. Still, the god of winter is forgotten with making an appearance in several video games such as Smite and God of War. Even so, many ski lodges use both the names even here in the United States. Regardless, when it comes to picturing a tanky winter-hardened ranger character, Ullr is a great example complete with oath-keeping qualities. That, and many “praise Ullr” for timid, pleasing snow weather to this day, though he was never bestowed the means to control the weather from the start.

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