Wednesday, December 25, 2013

History of the Yule Log

A Yule log is hard piece of wood, usually from an oak, birch or elm tree, that would be burned in the fireplace to celebrate Yule, the Winter Solstice, and Christmas Day.

This was originally a pagan tradition found in Northern Europe in places such as Germany, France and Great Britain. The tree was chopped down, and often the whole tree was brought into the house with some ceremony. Later it became just a piece of wood from the tree. The Yule log was representative of bringing the light into the house as part of celebrating the Winter Solstice. The Yule log was a symbol of light, representating that we are moving into a period of light and sun, as the days grow longer.

A piece of the log was always kept to be used to light next year's Yule log. The piece that was kept was also said to bless the household with protection and prosperity in the new year. The ashes from the fire were often used in plants and crops to bless them in hopes of producing great crops.

The Yule log later became an adorned piece of wood that often served as a table centerpiece (as seen above) or for people who did not have an hearth or fireplace in the house. A piece of wood is decorated with greenery, pinecones, etc and holes are drilled into the wood to hold three candles that are lit throughout Yule celebrations.

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