Modern society has adopted and adapted many historical traditions and incorporated them into what Christmas is today. The yule log is the oldest of these traditions. It originates from the Scandinavian yule festivals celebrating the winter solstice.
Ceremonies and rituals celebrated with the yule log evolved over time in different countries. The log was thought to bring good luck and offerings were placed on the tree to bring good luck for the following year. Your bad luck and mistakes from the previous year were thought to burn up in the fire. Originally the Yule Log was an entire tree that was burned inside a house. This tree would be slowly fed into the fire throughout the 12 Days of Christmas. This would change as technology advanced and there would be no need to heat a house with an entire tree.
The traditional continues today, but with modifications. Instead of a tree it is a log, and it is the final log to be burned during the Christmas holiday. Burning of the Yule log is said to keep evil spirits and negativity at bay and ensure prosperity and protection for the household, particularly if a portion of the log is kept throughout the year. Each year’s log should be started with that portion of the previous year’s log. Some cultures believe that the dead and other spirits walked on the winter solstice, the longest night of the year, and the brightly burning Yule log helped protect the home from their invasion.
The log might be decorated with greenery and sprinkled with wine, mead, cider, oil, salt or some combination before it was lit with prayers of thanksgiving and hope. Consider making holes for four candles and when you light them say “Log burn, wheel turn, evil spurn, Sun return!”