Origins & Traditions ☃ Yule Logs

yule-logYule was the name of the ancient winter festivals held by the indigenous Germanic people of Northern Europe. In fact on the modern calendar, yuletide lasts for the period between late November and early January.

The word “Yule” has several suggested origins, including Old Norse mid-winter festival “jól” and the Anglo-Saxon festival “Iul” (meaning “wheel”). In old almanacs, Yule was represented by the wheel, a pagan symbol for the sun, indicating the year turning like a wheel, and huge yule logs were burned in honor of the sun.

The Yule Log was originally an entire tree and it was ceremoniously chosen, cut, and brought into the house. The largest end of the log would be placed into the fire hearth while the rest of the tree stuck out into the room. In some cultures, the log would be lit from the remains of the previous year’s log by the daughters in the family or the lady of the house. The log would be sprinkled with salt, oil, and mulled wine, and prayers would be offered to protect the house from the Devil and lightning.

Next: Christmas Trees

10 replies

  1. You should do one of these about the German “bad santa” Krampus, he’s one of my favorite weird Christmas traditions! also, I had no idea you could embed pictures into a URL, that’s pretty nifty up there!


  2. Ooooo, I love the idea of sprinkling a log with mulled wine and then catching it on fire 😉 Also, the idea of catching an ENTIRE TREE on fire sounds much like the holiday traditions of my childhood!


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