The myth of Ullr - pronounced "ooler"
Winter weather is one of those uncontrollable, unexplainable phenomenons that people either love or hate. I grew up in South Dakota where winter conditions change from one minute to the next. The sun may be out in the morning, and by noon there is a full on ice storm or blizzard. Just when you think winter is about over, the tulips start popping, and spring is around the corner, SD gets four foot of snow.
Like all things out of human control, winter weather has been given a mythical guardian and story. The legend of Ullr stems way back before stories were written down. His name comes from an old German word, wuldor, meaning glory and was popular in the cold northern regions like scandinavia.
Ullr is known world wide now with much thanks to the snow sports world. Ski resorts are part of those that LOVE wild winters. The more snow the better, and if Ullr decides to blizzard everyone in and force them to stay longer at the resort, so be it. In fact, I have been part of three different ski resorts that love Ullr so much they throw him a party. These parties are typically at the beginning of the season or half way through a bad season. Some include burning old ski equipment in his honor, and others simply involve drinking beer and doing a snow dance. All of them, however, have made Ullr a snow god hero and a part of the skiing tradition.
The myth of Ull is so old that there has been many variations told of his beginnings, but my personal favorite is that he is the son of Sif and stepson of Thor. He is known for his hunting and archery which is synonymous with scandinavian tradition. He is also typically pictured in skates or skis on a frozen lake with his bow. From the few stories actually written down, we gather that he was a rather notable diety in Norse Mythology.
Mythology and the tales of heroes transcend the world. Even though Ullr may have had a slightly different meaning to the people in Norway or Sweden or Germany, his name in America has been given high regard in a new way. Skiers and snowsport fanatics praise his name when the skies open up with white flakes dusting the slopes in a powder heaven, and they stir up wild reasoning for upsetting Ullr when their ski runs look bleak.
Unfortunately, Ullr, just like winter weather cannot be controlled. Sometimes he unleashes his winter furry in places on the east coast that don't want piles and piles of snow. Sometimes he lets the mountains of Colorado melt to dirt before sending his next storm. Either way, the myth of Ullr lives on and his stories and winter magic will continue to spread across the world.