Sunday, 16 December 2012

Log Fires and Yule Logs

Log fires and Yule Logs

I’ve been trying to decide which of the recipes for a yule log which include eggs, can be converted to an egg free recipe. I haven’t decided, but thoughts of a ‘yule log’ brought images of a real one burning in the hearth.

The other evening, at my son and daughter-in-law’s house there was a wood fire in the grate. The flames, the warmth and the crackling wood brought pictures of the past to my mind.

The Druids blessed a ‘log’ the trunk or part of the trunk of a tree, and kept it burning throughout the winter solstice, which lasted 12 days, and kept part of it to light the following year’s Yule log.

In the northern lands of the Viking’s icy winter, warmth was essential. It was also necessary to placate Thor and greet the sun’s return after winter. The Yule log was the focus of their celebration the julfest. They carved runes on tree trunk which represented – for example – bad luck – that they wanted their gods and goddesses to take away. They also believed everyone who helped to bring in the Yule log would be protected from witches.

Druid or Viking, I can imagine families enjoying the fire with its light flickering over their faces, and children, cosy indoors, enjoying winter fare and listening to tales.

The Vikings, who doused the log with alcohol to make it burn, brought the custom to Britain, where with the passage of time, it was adopted by medieval Christians, to whom it represented the need to keep Jesus warm.

It was important to keep the log burning throughout the twelve days of Christmas, after which the ashes were gathered, and kept indoors to prevent lightening or fire breaking out.

Today, there are very few hearths large enough to fit a Yule log but there is nothing to prevent us choosing the largest log which will fit the fireplace and burning it in memory of the past.

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