Yule log

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A Yule log is a large wooden log which is burned in the hearth as a part of traditional Yule or Christmas celebrations in several European cultures. It can be a part of the Winter Solstice festival or the Twelve Days of Christmas, Christmas Eve, Christmas Day, or Twelfth Night.

The expression "Yule log" has also come to refer to log-shaped Christmas cakes, also known as "chocolate logs" or "Bûche de Noël". The Yule log is related to other Christmas and Yuletide traditions such as the Ashen faggot.[1]

Contents

Etymology

The term "Yule log" is not the only term used to refer to the custom. In the north-east of England it was commonly called a "Yule Clog",[2] and in the country's Midlands and West Country, the term "Yule Block" was also used.[2] In the county of Lincolnshire, the term "Gule Block" was found, and in Cornwall, the term "Stock of the Mock" was as well.[2] In other parts of the British Isles, different terms were used, for instance in Wales, the log was often referred to as Y Bloccyn Gwylian, meaning "the Festival Block",[2] whilst in Scotland, Yeel Carline (meaning "the Christmas Old Wife") was used, and in Ireland, the term, Bloc na Nollaig, which meant "the Christmas Block", was used.[2] The Yule log was originally an entire tree, that was carefully chosen and brought into the house with great ceremony with the purpose being to provide maximum warmth and endurance. In some European traditions, the largest end of the log would be placed into the fire hearth while the rest of the tree stuck out into the room. While references are anecdotal, it seems to be a tradition that morphed into early European Christian tradition of the Twelve Days of Christmas. Within 20th century Europe and North America was predominantly a reference to the burning of the largest log possible at or around Christmas.

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