What, exactly, is the yule in yuletide? Or the tide, for that matter? Both are Germanic. Yule was actually the pagan holiday which was the precursor to Christmas, generally occurring around December. In Old English, it was spelled geol or geola and purportedly comes from the Proto-Germanic word jehwla, meaning "festivity". This in turn is from Proto-Indo-European yekuh, "to play". Meanwhile, tide is the same one that rolls in twice a day. That's just it: the tide occurs at a specific time, so in Old English it was tid, meaning "tide" or "season". This, through Proto-Germanic tidiz, came from the Proto-Indo-European root di, meaning "time", so yuletide technically means "play-time". Search interest. Google search interest for the word yuletide is most popular in Ghana, always peaks sharply every December, and pales in comparison to the word Christmas. Oddly, usage of Yuletide has been increasing since the 1980s.
Hello! I'm Adam Aleksic, a senior studying government and linguistics at Harvard University, where I co-founded the Harvard Undergraduate Linguistics Society. In addition to etymology, I also really enjoy trivia, politics, vexillology, geography, board games, conlanging, art history, and law.