How to Make a Yule Log

green pine needles with snow
Many traditions celebrate differently, so why not try something new this season?

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.

yule logs stacked up outside in a field
Grab some wood that you like from your local store or even outside.

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.

baking a yule log cake ingredients
The holidays are an excellent time to bake things from scratch! Try a new recipe, and share it with friends.

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.

Happy Make a Difference Day!

While it isn’t Christmas or Halloween, we can still appreciate Make a Difference Day, a national day set aside for observing togetherness. Every fourth Saturday in October is dedicated to this idea. This year it is October 26th. It is mostly used as a great excuse to go out and bring your community together. While the focus is more on volunteer work, any type of service or gathering will serve to honor the spirit of this holiday.

happy volunteers for Make a Difference Day
You’ll find great people out on this day. Sign up at a local charity or search online.

When a leap year comes around, people often muse on what they can do with the time. In 1992, USA Weekend magazine, a large periodical, offered a suggestion for that year’s ‘leap day’. Why not take is as a way to improve the lives of others? It became so popular, the day was made into an official holiday. This year is October 26th, but it changes. So, next year will be October 24, 2020.

How Can You Help?

You don’t have to wait for a leap year to do some good in the world. Think about the time you have and plan for this October to get out and make someone’s day. Think about ay cause you feel particularly drawn to, or a group of individuals that you see need help. Just one day of service out of your year can make a difference in their lives.  

United Way hosted projects such as raking leaves for the elderly or disabled. Another volunteer, Maggie Leach, working with Points of Light, gathered $810 in quarters to donate to shelters for laundry. It just takes some insight into how you can help people, even with something small.

Here are some other ideas if you’re not sure where to start:

  • Building or painting community houses
  • Volunteering at your local animal shelter or zoo
  • Cleaning up a park or public sports field
  • Raising money for charities


Be Social on Make a Difference Day

adults jumping on a beach after volunteering
Think of all the good you can do in just one day. It doesn’t have to be on the holiday, but it is easier.

Even if you can’t get out of the house for a day, you could host a gathering for your neighborhood and ask for any spare change to donate to your local shelter. Just keeping the spirit of community alive for your neighbors can honor the day. Or, perhaps you may have a yard sale and ask your friends for donations. Clearing out your attic can turn into money to help local food banks. If you can’t spare time to help on this specific day you can always volunteer another. This holiday is once a year but help is appreciated all year long!

For the tech-savvy amongst us, you can use this time to spread awareness of the day using hashtags. Commemorate your service by posting selfies to Facebook or Instagram with #MakeADifferenceDay. You may find others in your area doing the same thing, and you can merge your efforts together. 

It doesn’t take much to help each other. If we put in some effort, on this day or another, maybe we can make this world a better place