There are many traditions and rituals people use for the preparation of Yule. While celebrating the darkest night of the year, families gather around the hearth lit by the Yule log. Many use the log to signal the end of one year and the beginning of another. Others light the Yule candle to ensure good luck for the coming year.
Traditions of Yule
Many light the Yule candle when the sun sets to chase away the darkness. The candle must be kept lit while a person is still awake in the house. The candle must be lit by the melted Yule candle from the year before. In some communities a large bonfire will be lit, and the villagers would stroke a flame from the fire to light their own fireplaces at home.
A Yule log was a tree that was chopped down from a person’s land or from a nearby neighboring forest. The bottom of the tree would be placed in the fireplace and lit by the stored ashes from the previous Yule log. The tree would rest in the living room and the flames had to remain lit through dinner. No one could stir the fire until everyone was finish eating dinner and the table was cleared.
There were many rituals to lighting the Yule candle, log, and the bon fire. The candles had to be made by hand and the Yule log had to be cut down not bought in a store. Every part of the ritual had to done with a person with clean hands to show respect to the spirits. The ashes of the previous Yule log was kept in a box stored under the bed to prevent the home from fires.
It was important for the fires to light on the first try otherwise misfortune would strike the household in the coming year. For those that let the fire s burn out either in the hearth or on their return trip home would be struck with bad luck for the entire year. Families would use the fires from the Yule log to tell ghost stories. If a person’s shadow was cast upon the wall by the flamelight they would die during the year.
In the modern era, many people have central heating and only a few contain fireplaces making it impossible to burn a tree in their living room. Instead, families take part in enjoying a dessert version of the Yule log. This rolled sponge cake filled with cream and covered in chocolate glaze or icing is called a Buche De Noel. This treat started in France and is served after midnight mass on Christmas Eve.
Despite people taking a more modern take on the tradition, the Yule log and candle are still considered an important part of the holiday traditions. Many still light candles on Christmas Eve as a prayer to the spirits and to bring good timing to the home. Even if the traditions have changed to fit the modern era, the reasoning and Yuletide blessings are still the same.
Now, shush, I’m trying to read.