One of the oldest Christmas traditions is that of the Yule Log. In fact, its origin has nothing to do with Christmas at all, but comes from pre-Christian Scandinavia. At the gloomiest time of year, folk would light fires to break the spell of the long winter darkness. In medieval England, the great hall was warmed by a giant log of seasoned oak, this was said to bring blessings to the hall’s owner and protect the structure from lightning. The highly decorated log was brought to the hearth on Christmas Eve, and anyone meeting it on its journey from the wood to the hall, would cordially greet the log to ensure good luck for the following year. From the 18th century onwards, the log was lit on Christmas Eve and kept burning until Twelfth Night. If, however, the fire went out, it was a sign of dire luck to follow. In the Southern States of the US, Christmas was said to last as long as the Yule Log still burnt. It’s easy to imagine the workers who were sent out to find the Yule Log carefully picking the largest, dampest, greenest log they could find. The Yule Log’s ashes were also supposed to bring good fortune. In the Baltic States, the ashes were dug into the ground around fruit trees to make them more fruitful. In the UK, a drink made from its ashes mixed with water, was claimed to cure tuberculosis.
Did You Know?
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