Click banner above to return to the other stops on the Mistletoe Hop!
As a former French teacher, the term “Yule Log” tends to bring to mind the tasty Bûche de Noël, a sponge cake rolled with cream and decorated with chocolate icing and marzipan mushrooms. The Bûche de Noël originated in France and Belgium and has spread to the UK and other places as well.
The tradition of the Yule log is not an ancient custom in Britain, but is considered to have been imported from Flanders in Belgium (from an ancient Nordic pagan tradition). The idea was to find the largest log possible (usually oak) and to keep it burning throughout the entire Twelve Days of Christmas. A remnant of the log was kept in the house for the next year to bring prosperity and protection from evil spirits…and to use in lighting the next year’s Yule Log.
The Yule log would be cut down and dragged by horses or oxen as people walked along and sang merry songs. Often it would be decorated with greenery and sprinkled with grain or cider before being lit. The first attempt at lighting the log had to be successful in order to avoid bad luck during the coming year. And the person lighting it had to have clean hands; dirty hands would be disrespectful. While log burned, people would drink cider and tell ghost and other tales and watch the walls for shadows. A headless shadow foretold the death of the person casting the shadow in the next year. People could burn offerings to represent their personal faults and mistakes to wipe the slate clean and start the year afresh.
Originally, the log was an entire tree, one end of which would be inserted into the hearth and the rest jutting out into the room. Burning an entire tree is not practical today with central heating and all.
In Cornwall, barrelmakers (coopers) would donate old trees unsuitable for making barrels to people for Yule logs. In Devon and Somerset, people used very large bungles of ash twigs, due to the legend that it was very cold in the stable where Mary and Joseph were staying and the shepherds collected twigs for them.
By the Regency-era, most people did not have large enough hearths to burn entire trees, but they could burn a large log for at least twelve hours on Christmas day.
A random commenter on this post will win a Twelfth Night Tale Christmas charm bracelet.
About A Twelfth Night Tale
A wounded soldier and the girl next door find peace and love amidst a backdrop of rural Christmas traditions.
Without dowries and the opportunity to meet eligible gentlemen, the five Barlow sisters stand little chance of making advantageous marriages. But when the eldest attracts the attention of a wealthy viscount, suddenly it seems as though Fate is smiling upon them.
Lucy knows that she owes it to her younger sisters to encourage Lord Bexley’s attentions, since marriage to a peer will secure their futures as well as hers. The man of her dreams has always looked like Andrew Livingston, her best friend’s brother. But he’s always treated her like a child, and, in any case, is betrothed to another. Perhaps the time has come to put away childhood dreams and accept reality…and Lord Bexley.
Andrew has returned from the Peninsula with more emotional scars to deal with than just the lame arm. Surprisingly, it’s his sister’s friend “Little Lucy” who shows him the way out of his melancholy. He can’t help noticing that Lucy’s grown up into a lovely young woman, but with an eligible viscount courting her, he’ll need a little Christmas magic to win her for himself.