How to Make A Symbolic Yule Log
Yule is an ancient Pagan festival celebrating winter, beginning on the winter solstice around 21st December. Christianity has adopted many of the old Pagan festivals, such as this, and the Christian idea of Yule now spans the twelve days of Christmas, from 25th December to the evening of 5th January.
The festivities are traditionally celebrated by burning a Yule log, a log that will burn for the whole twelve days. This is fine if you live in an ancient house with a huge fireplace, but more than a little inconvenient if your main source of heating is a radiator, or if the temperature outside is 30 degrees.
Symbolic Yule Log
The Pagan festival celebrates rebirth and renewal, looking forward to the coming new year and longer days. Symbolically Yule is the battle between the Oak and the Holly King.
Traditional logs were made of oak or ash, and the new log was lit from a piece of the previous year's log, to reinforce the cycle of the seasons from one year to the next. They were blessed with water, ale or wine and often decorated with Ivy, evergreens or ribbons. The log was not burnt entirely; pieces were kept and used as charms against bad luck over the coming year.
If you like the idea of celebrating Yule, but don't want the fire crew round on Christmas day because you've set fire to a six foot oak log in your lounge, then a symbolic yule log is a great idea.
Traditionally, the log should be cut from your own land, but land is also at a premium these days, so I guess the God and Godess would be OK if you found your log in the woods.
I am fortunate to have an allotment, and so cut my log from an ash tree there, using ash to symbolise, protection, prosperity and health.
My son and I chiselled three holes in the top of the log, to hold candles; three symbolising creative power, growth and trinity. These will be burnt every evening for the whole twelve days of Christmas. It's important not to let the candles burn too low, as it is possible to set fire to the log unintentionally!
Quick Table Decoration
This is a really quick decoration, to brighten a table setting when you're running out of time. Take an oval plate and a church-style candle. It's good if you can raise the candle up on something like florists foam, or a couple of coasters.
Fill the plate, around the base of the candle with mini crackers and baubles, or baubles and green bits snipped from the Christmas tree, or pine cones, whatever. I tend to use what's handy, sometimes with tinsel or ribbons added.
It just adds a little brightness and usually takes me less than a minute to concoct this decoration, plus, it's different every time.
Quick Table Decoration
Again, don't leave the candle burning while you're not around, as pretty much everything is flammable.