I'm by no means a scholar of pre-Christian European religious practices, but here's my rough mental sketch of what Yule was before the English language appropriated it as a synonym for Christmas:
Scene: A dark winter in Scandinavia
Bearded man with horned helmet: It sure is dark and cold and lonely out!
Woman with braided hair: Yeah. I know, let's throw a party!
Beardy Hornson: Yeah! We'll bring all the food and drink we can to one big pile!
Braidy Hairsdottir: And we'll just party until we run out of food and booze!
Hornson: C'mon and help haul stuff to the pile, everyone!
Lydia: I am sworn to carry your burdens.