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The Tradition of the Yule Log

Updated on September 22, 2014

Is your Yule Log a fireplace tradition or a holiday dessert?

This page is all about the different ways that the idea of a Yule log has become part of holiday celebrations. It has links to the history of the Yule Log (the fireplace version), lots of recipes for how to bake modern Yule Log Cakes (the delicious holiday dessert version), a video Yule Log to download for your iPod (just the thing for travelers or the digerati), where to find a Yule log screensaver and much more!

Here's a picture of my very own yule log burning. Further down, I tell you how you can make a yule log that burns with different colors!

What Is A Yule Log? - Customs and History of the Yule Log in Europe and America

Over time, the word "yule" has become associated with both Christmas and the Winter Solstice. You'll find Yule Log traditions that relate to both holidays and which have Pagan and Christian traditions attached to them depending on the time period and culture from which the specific ritual originated. The more you read about Yule logs, the more you realize that burning a ritual log at the darkest time of the year whether for warmth, light, gathering or symbolism is one of the oldest human customs.

May Your Yule Log Burn Brightly and Long!

Yule Accoutrements

Yule: A Celebration of Light and Warmth (Holiday Series)
Yule: A Celebration of Light and Warmth (Holiday Series)

Beyond all the fascinating trivia, this is also a book that offers fresh approaches to old traditions, such as having a cleaning ritual that ceremoniously sweeps out the old and makes room for the new season or conducting a reverent "tree blessing" ceremony.

 

Warm Your Table With A Yule Log

Single Yule log cradle with birch log and prelit evergreen boughs
Single Yule log cradle with birch log and prelit evergreen boughs

This tabletop centerpiece is great for large parties or homes where you don't have a fireplace.

 

What Type of Yule Log Do You Have For The Holidays?

At our house, the Yule Log is...

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Make a Yule Log that burns with Colored Flames - add some colors to your holiday fire

Holes drilled in the yule log
Holes drilled in the yule log

There is a way to make a fancy yule log that will burn with different colors. What you do is take a well-seasoned (nice and dry), thick log and bore several holes into it, a couple of inches deep. I used my grandpa's hand auger as it had a larger bit on the end of it than the largest one my dad had for his drill. The larger the holes, the more chemicals you can put in there and the bolder the colored flames will be. Be careful not to drill too deeply.

Once you have the holes, save the shavings. You'll need those in a bit. Put the chosen chemical(s) into the holes. Then you take the shavings, mix them with a bit of water and flour until you have a woody paste and then use that to seal over the holes so that the powdered chemicals don't spill out. Let the paste dry well.

When you burn your yule log, and the fire burns through the paste sealing the holes, it will ignite the chemicals and you'll get colored flames!

Some of the things that work can be found around the house, like epsom salts (bright white) or Borax (yellow-green) or sodium chloride aka table salt (yellow) but if you want to have a full spectrum, you may have to order chemicals online or go to specialty shops. For things like red (strontium chloride) or blue (copper chloride) or purple (potassium chloride), it's worth it!

Yuletide Greetings!

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    • Lemming13 profile image

      Lemming13 4 years ago

      We had an open fire when I was a child, and we used to get our Yule log from a farm up the road; it was usually pine, but sometimes we had an apple tree log and it smelled amazing. We would all go together to fetch it, and lighting it was a highlight of the holiday. Now I only have a gas fire, which just isn't the same, so I bake a big chocolate Yule log and decorate it with icing sugar snow and chocolate robins and holly. we cut it on Christmas Eve because that's also my birthday.

    • goldenrulecomics profile image

      goldenrulecomics 4 years ago

      When I was growing up one of the New York stations always had a yule log on the screen and played Christmas music all day long, so that's what I always think of when I hear the words yule log! Nice lens!

    • WoodlandBard profile image

      WoodlandBard 5 years ago

      A lot of ideas I had forgotten and some very new to me. Very nice lens indeed :-)

    • profile image

      SandyPeaks 6 years ago

      A little difficult to burn with central heating - so it's the chocolate one for me! Blessed by a SquidAngel.

    • tvyps profile image

      Teri Villars 6 years ago from Phoenix, Arizona

      I am still looking for this year's Yule Log on TV, I would have it on right now if available! Nice lens!

    • profile image

      julieannbrady 6 years ago

      Ah, yuletide greetings to you my dear and a very Merry Christmas!

    • profile image

      anonymous 8 years ago

      We use a piece of charcoal from the previous year's Solstice Celebration to kindle each year's Yule Log. Each year's log is decorated with pine cones and branches, and anointed with various oils. I began this family tradition in 1988, and each of my children, grandchildren, nieces and nephews as well as numerous friends have taken a piece of our tradition and made it their own.

    • profile image

      anonymous 8 years ago

      Nice lens! I used to make a yule log each Christmas. Have the urge to make one again after reading this! Lensrolled you on my Christmas in France page.

    • profile image

      poutine 8 years ago

      We always had a Christmas log when we were kids.

      It was exciting to see it made and even more exciting

      to see it as the centerpiece of our Christmas dinner.

      Poutine

    • greenerme profile image

      greenerme 8 years ago

      These always look incredibly hard to make, but look great! I've ordered one from a bakery before, but maybe I'll try making one this year. Nice work!

    • MSBeltran1 profile image

      MSBeltran1 8 years ago

      Nice lens... I have lensrolled you to my Yule holiday page. Lots of great info here.