Sunday, December 13, 2009

Burning the Yule Log

Today this symbol of an ancient tradition has become a term meaning  a cake that's baked around this time of the year in the shape of a log with maybe holly or poinsettia on top, but I'm not talking about a cake.
     The tradition of having and burning a real Yule log is an ancient tradition dating back to the Druids.  Different areas of England, Germany, France, and the Netherlands have their own traditions to the Yule log. In the North East of England it was commonly called a Yule clog. In the Midlands and the West Country the term was Yule Block
     The Yule log has been associated having its origins in Germanic paganism. It was a large wooden log which is burned in a hearth, either in the community or privately in the household.   It was an entire whole trunk of a tree which was cut on Candlemas ( Feb 2 ) and dried all year long. It was brought in a household by a group of males who, for the task, would get free beer from the farmer's wife. The log was of the Oak tree. The fire that was used to burn the Yule log was started from a piece of the log that had been burned the previous year. The log's role was to bring prosperity and protection from evil.
    Druids would pray that the oak would flame, like the sun forever. After the burning, it's ashes were thought to bring good luck and protection into the household. It was considered bad luck if the fire went out before New Years.
     In Southern France, people put the log on the fire for the first time on Christmas Eve and then continued to burn it a-little bit each day until the twelfth night (Jan. 5th).

     If the ashes or any part of the burned Yule log was kept under the bed, it will protect the house from fire and thunder. It would also prevent those who live there from getting chilblains on their heels in the winter. The unburned remains are also believed to cure cattle diseases and to help cows deliver calves. If you scatter the ashes over the fields it will save the wheat from mildew.

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