Christmas Traditions > Yule Logs
The Yule log, or chocolate log, comes from the Yule festival, which gave rise to many other popular Christmas traditions.
The word “yule” means wheel, a symbol representing the Sun, and the yule tide was a festivity celebrating the fact that the days and warmth would now start to get longer and warmer again.
The yule log was a huge log (sometimes an entire tree) that was burned slowly throughout these days to herald the birth of this new sun. One end of the log would be placed in the fireplace with the rest sticking out into the room. The log was slowly fed into the fire over the course of several days until it was completely consumed.
UPDATE > Yule Log
The word yule meant “infant” in the language of the Chaldeans, who lived in the Middle East. The Germanic tribes of Northern Europe, including the Anglo Saxons, celebrated “Yule-day” or “Child’s Day.”
The custom of the Yule log has been noted in France and Italy as far back as the 1200s. It later spread throughout Europe. On Christmas Eve an enormous log would be cut and placed in the hearth. The log would be sprinkled with salt, oil, and mulled wine, and prayers said to protect the house from the Devil and lightning.
In some regions, the daughters of the family lit the log with splinters of the previous year’s log. In other regions, the lady of the house had the honor of lighting the log.
As iron stoves replaced giant hearths in the 1800s, Yule logs became decorative, often being used as Christmas centerpieces and decorated with evergreens and candles. Cooks began creating pastry Yule logs, rolled cakes covered in chocolate or coffee and decorated with sugared holly and roses.