Wednesday, December 19, 2007

Christmas {Y} - Yule

Yule is a winter festival associated with the winter solstice historically and primarily celebrated in northern Europe, however Yule is currently celebrated in various forms in many countries around the world. Yule celebrations often coincide with Christmas. Modern Yule traditions include decorating a fir or spruce tree, burning a Yule log, the hanging of mistletoe and holly, giving gifts, and general celebration.

There is a custom that on Christmas Eve an enormous log of freshly cut wood called the Yule log would be fetched and carried to the house with great ceremony. On Christmas Eve, the master of the house would place it on the hearth, make libations by sprinkling the trunk with oil, salt and mulled wine and say suitable prayers. In some families, the young girls of the house lit the log with splinters from the preceding year which they had carefully tucked away. In other families, the mother had this privilege. It was said that the cinders of this log could protect the house from lightning and the malevolent powers of the devil. Choices about the variety of wood, the way in which it was lit and the length of time it took to burn constituted a genuine ritual which could vary from region to region.

Another take on the Yule log is a desert which can easily be made from a Swiss Roll cake, decorated with chocolate butter icing. Using a fork you can make 'knots' and 'bark' patterns in the surface of the icing. Sprinkle the finished cake with a little icing sugar to simulate snow.

When I was a child, my mum and I used to make a Yule log this way. She used to have some little plastic holly leaves and robins that she would decorate it with too. This is a very easy project to undertake in the kitchen with children.

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