The ancient god of snow Ullr has been worshiped by skiers from around the world but how much do we really know about him?
If you’ve just arrived in Whistler and haven’t introduced yourself to Ullr- now is the time. The enigmatic God of Snow is the go-to guy when it comes to praying for epic winter seasons. Whistlerites and ski bums around the world have been honouring Ullr with paganist rituals and alcohol-infused pow-wows for years now. So who the heck is Ullr? Well, besides that fact that he’s extremely good-looking the details of his existence are vague and contradicting. Here’s what we were able to dig up about the Old Norse God of Snow.
In Prehistoric times, records show that Old Norse Ullr was a major god with extreme importance in some Scandinavian Countries. Today Ullr’s name appears in many established place names in Norway and Sweden insinuating that he held some sort of religious importance in medieval times. He had a son named Sif, a dad named Egill-Orvandill, a half-brother named Svipdagr-Oor, a nephew Volunder and a cousin Skaoi. Ullr was from a place called Ydilar in Scandinavia and his name is said to mean, “Glory.”
Although no literature points to Ullr actually being, ‘the God of snow,’ he is always depicted wearing skis and holding a bow and arrow (the world’s first biathelete perhaps?) Ullr was revered as an avid archer, hunter, skater and skier so I guess ‘snow-god’ is not a far stretch by any means. Within the ski industry in Europe Ullr is considered the Gaurdian Patron Saint of Skiers. Recreational and professional skiers alike can be seen wearing an Ullr medallion as a lucky charm to protect them on their pursuits.
If you’ve been in Whistler for some time you will have heard the name Ullr thrown around and you may have attended a celebration in his honour. When there is a scarcity of snow prayers are sent to Ullr for abundant snowfall and when the snow starts falling it’s assumed that he’s been appeased. Snow worshipers from around the world have been praying to Ullr for centuries and this tradition shows no sign of stopping. Past celebrations in Whistler have been pagan-esque with bonfires and the sacrificial burning of skis and boards to please the Norse God.
With early snowfall this year it seems that Ullr may be in a good mood, however it can’t hurt to attend one of the winter ceremonies in his honour. Whistler Olympic Park is having it’s annual celebration in honour of Ullr at the end of November with a large bonfire, marshmallow roasting and tobogganing. Dress up in your best Viking Gear and play your part in praying for a great 2015/16 season. This year’s Cornucopia is throwing a Medieval-inspired ‘Winter is Coming,’ bash on November 15th where Ullr will be celebrated in style. Snow God or not, Ullr is a legend in his own right and a great excuse to celebrate everything we all love about winter.