An Old Christmas Tradition: Yule Logs

An Old Christmas Tradition: Yule Logs

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by Sandra Merville Hart

The Vikings brought the practice of burning Yule Logs to England during the Dark Ages. Although it didn’t begin as a Christian tradition, it later took on a special meaning for Christians as part of a Christmas celebration for centuries.

winter-1060526_1920The family selects a huge log.

Each family would cut down a tree early in the year to save for Christmas. They wanted a log large enough to burn for the twelve days of Christmas, which began on December 25th. The fireplaces were the main source of heat in those days and were large enough to hold the Yule Log.

During the year, spices were often rubbed on the log so that the aroma would fill the home as it burned. As they applied the spices, it reminded them of the gifts of incense and myrrh brought to the baby, Jesus, by the Magi.

open-fire-885860_960_720The Yule Log is lit.

The mother or daughter lit the Yule Log using a stick or piece of kindling from last year’s Yule Log. Sprigs of holly were thrown into the flames. The story of Jesus’ birth was told. The firelight reminded them of the life that God sent to everyone – His Son. The wood reminded them of the cross where Jesus died for everyone’s sins.

They played games and sang songs before eating a large feast.

The log keeps burning.

The task of keeping the fire burning for twelve days belonged to the mother and daughters. They took turns tending the fire.

Over time, some have replaced the tradition of burning a Yule Log with serving log-shaped cakes or candies.


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