Yule Log is a significant part of Christmas traditions. Yule log is a large log burned in the hearth of the house. It is a symbol of prosperity and luck. It is believed, if the tradition is followed with sincerity and devotion, it would bring good health, wealth and productivity in the year ahead.
The tradition is practiced in many countries and hence several legends are associated with its origin. The most popular story of the Yule Log dates back to the 12th century. During this period in most of the European countries, the winter festival was celebrated by burning wood and drinking wine. The Solstice festival was Jol (Yule) which was celebrated throughout Northern Europe and Scandinavia. It was a feast to honor the Norse God, Odin who was the God of Intoxicating Drink. The custom of Yule Log emerged from the Europe's winter festival.
Burning the Yule Log is a crucial Christmas tradition today. The custom of Yule log varies from region to region. It was originally a large tree brought to the house with great ceremony. On Christmas, people light the Yule log placed in the hearth and wish that it burns for longer. As per the belief, all the family members must sit on it before it is burnt. It is also customary to say prayers and sing Christmas songs while performing the traditional activity. In some families, young girls and mothers take the privilege to light the log. The burning of the Yule Log brings in good fortune for the family and friends and scare off the evil spirits. After the Christmas celebrations, a piece of the Yule log is kept to relight the next year's log.
The custom of Yule Log is performed with high spirits and sanctity. Different countries have different ways of performing this tradition. Even different kinds of wood are used today to keep alive the spirit of the tradition. Here are some of the examples of the tradition of Yule Log performed in different countries:
United Kingdom - In U.K., the log is called 'The Mock'. Here the log is dried out and taken into the house when its bark is taken out. Oak is the traditional wood used at this time. At some places, oak is replaced with large bunch of ash twigs. This comes from the legend that the shepherds burned the bunches of twigs to keep Joseph, Mary and their son Jesus warm.
France - In France, whole family gets engaged in the process of cutting the log. Small pieces of the log are burnt each night of the twelve day Christmas celebrations. People in France use Cherry tree as the traditional Yule log.
Holland - Holland follows the same process of burning the log as does France but here the log is stored under a bed.
Today, Yule Log has become an important part of televising Christmas traditions. A very famous series of Yule Log is aired on New York's WPIX TV. Moreover, Yule Log has also become a traditional delicacy. Yule Log cakes have become an essential part of the Christmas feast. People get chocolate log cakes at the time of Christmas.