We’ve all heard of a “Yule log,” but do you know where it came from? Originally Nordic, the Yule log has made its way through Scandinavia, Northern Europe, parts of Germany, and on to America through immigration.
While people still argue about the origin, the roots point to Germanic paganism as the start. It was adopted later along with other pagan rites into the celebration of Christmas. Today, we can still see and hear their remnants in our decorations and carols.
Why not celebrate with a Yule log this year? You can teach your family something new and put that fireplace to merry use!
Celebrating with a Yule Log
While our ancestors had one specific way to use the log, we can celebrate in at least three different ones. The first two involve fire, so please be cautious with not only your living space but also children or small animals. The last one is a tasty addition to any dinner table.
The Ancient Way
According to folklore, the Nordic people would place an entire tree into their hearth or a bonfire and burn it throughout the season. They wrote down wishes or put decorations on it as it burned to inspire them throughout the year.
Now, it may not be the best idea due to space constraints, but you can select a lovely piece of wood from outside or buy one from a store. This log can be your Yule Log.
All you do is place it in the fire and burn it like other firewood. You don’t have to decorate it, but it could be a nice activity for a colder, quieter night. You can even talk about your wishes with your family as you burn it.
The Modern Way
If you’re in the city, you might not have a fireplace or any area to burn a large item. Not to worry, you can still join in on this tradition. We think this could have been an adaptation specifically for this problem.
Instead of burning your log, you can use it as part of your winter decor. You start by purchasing or finding a nice piece of wood. Then, you can decorate with ribbon, pine needles, fake snow, ornaments–whatever you’d like.
When you’re satisfied, use a small tool or hot glue to arrange candles to burn on top of it. This is symbolic of the fire from earlier, but with no large, dangerous flames.
This arrangement can adorn your mantle, dinner table, or even on a ledge. Just make sure to keep an eye on the candles.
The Tasty Way
Our personal favorite–a Yule Log cake!
You can simply purchase one, but baking it at home makes it extra special. Start with any cake recipe. However, chocolate does have the aesthetic you’re looking for.
Bake a cake as normal from any box from the store or home recipe. You’ll want it in a thin, square or rectangular shape.
Place a towel down on your counter and cover it with wax paper, then dust it with powdered sugar. While your cake is still warm from the oven, gently remove it from the pan, and transfer it onto the paper. You can then gently roll it over onto itself.
While you let it cool completely, make your favorite icing, or grab your storebought container. Gently unroll the cooled cake and spread the icing in the center. If you’re going for a chocolate cake, cream cheese icing is divine.
Reroll the cake back up, but remove the towel, placing the seam side down onto your serving platter. Refrigerate for about half an hour. Then, you’re almost done!
With your cooled cake, spread chocolate frosting over the top. Then, decorate with chocolate shavings. Bonus tip: use marshmallows and chocolate caps to create mushrooms or use those marshmallows covered in frosting to create knots on your “log.” You can also use a fork to stripe it, making it look even more like a log.
Any way you slice it, a Yule log can brighten up your holiday season. Whether you’re burning wishes for the next year, or cooking up something fun, this festive tradition is best enjoyed with your family and friends close by.