Welcome Author Susana Ellis

Author Susan Ellis is joining me today as part of her A Twelfth Night Tale blog tour to celebrate the release of her new novella A Twelfth Night Tale. She's written a wonderful post about Yule Logs. As part of her blog tour, one lucky commenter today will win a beautiful A Twelfth Night Tale Christmas charm bracelet. She will also be picking one random commener on each of the twelve stops of the tour to win a Giant Treasure Box. Click here to enter the RAfflecopter for the Giant Treasure Box.


Yule Log

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. 


Susan P said...

Wow, I had no idea it was a whole TREE they tried to burn! Neat info - I always just thought it was the name for burning a log in the fireplace at Christmas time. I didn't know there was a whole story behind it.
lattebooks at hotmail dot com

Eva said...

Bûche de Noël is a favorite Christmas tradition, yummy!

Susana Ellis said...

Yes, they did burn a whole tree in the beginning. I imagine it was a bit awkward, though! Thanks for dropping by!

Susana Ellis said...

Gotta love those French pastry concoctions! Or anything French, for that matter!

Sarah Honey said...

Love French Pastry! Thanks for stopping by and linking up @ Whatever Wednesday! Hope you have a fabulous week.

Carol L. said...

I've read about the burning of the log in Regency books but never knew it was actually a whole tree. :) Amazing. Thanks again for all the interesting traditions carried out back then.
Carol L
Lucky4750 (at) aol (dot) com

Anonymous said...

That "Yule Log" is the strangest thing I've ever seen!

Just wanted to stop by and say thanks for linking up at the Tuesday's Tea Party. Come back every week and enter to win free ad space! <3 Alice from Adventure Into Domesticland

P.S. Consider co-hosting? http://www.adventureintodomesticland.com/2011/06/tuesdays-tea-party-co-host.html

Erika Messer said...

I cannot imagine trying to burn an entire tree but at least you would know it would last for the entire 12 days LOL! I love Yule Logs although I don't think I ever had one with marzipan on it :) Love the idea of the shadow on the wall even though it's creepy it's still traditional and would be kind of neat to try and see what happened. Thank you for being part of the tour and congratulations Susana yet again!

Erika Messer

Donna E said...

We have had a fireplace in the last two parsonages and in this one. But we've never used them, nor do I want to. Think they've really had gas logs, so burning a real Yule log would not be an option even if we wanted to. However, I did not know the history or tradition behind the Yule log, so it was nice to read about it. Especially like the idea of a remnant kept to bring prosperity -- could use that idea today.
Don't think I've ever had the culinary Yule Log either.

Susana Ellis said...

Susan P is the random winner of the A Twelfth Night Tale Christmas charm bracelet. Thanks to everyone who stopped by!

Happy Holidays to all!