Check out my Green Holiday and Cheap & Easy series. I think you'll like them.
Enjoy the show!
Someone just humor me and tell me they think our hearth crock is funny. We thought it was the most hysterical thing we'd ever thought of. We rolled on the floor with laughter and slapped each other on the back like fools. In 5 years not a single, solitary soul has ever even noticed it.
A little Bolshevik humor anyone? Get it? LLBean crock? Communists? Consumerism?
Is this thing on?
Oh well. Moving on.
Yule logs were originally a pagan Winter Solstice custom to honor of the Germanic god Thor--by far my favorite of the Germanic gods. You burned the Yule log on the shortest day of winter as an offering of sorts to ensure the return of the light. Here's a really neat explanation of the origins and some modern celebations of Yule. It goes into way more detail than I will here.
Despite it's pagan origins, many of the Yule traditions were co-opted by early Christians to bring pagans into the fold. Regardless of your religious leanings, it's a fun idea to decorate and burn a yule log as part of your Winter Solstice or Christmas celebration. Your not supposed to work while the Yule log burns so most Moms should dig this idea. Burn baby, burn.
Since this is our first year making a Yule log, I didn't really plan ahead. One tradition says "real" Yule logs must be oak. Not gonna happen up here. Another says they must be cut from last year's Christmas tree and kept protected by the hearth for a year. Neat way to recycle! Once the holidays are over, we'll be cutting a few small logs from the trunk of the tree before we cart it off to our friends Summer Solstice bonfire pile. This year our logs just came from the woodpile--local dry pine. I've never been a stickler for the rules so I'm cool with that.
Another thing I read was that "real" Yule logs must be received as gift. But I want to actually burn one this year and let's face it, not enough people do Yule logs for us to bank on getting one. So out goes that tradition, too. We made our own, and made an extra that we can gift to someone.
- Round Logs, 12"-24" long (depending on the size of your fireplace or woodstove)
- Twine, raffia or ribbon (make sure it's paper or 100% cotton)
- Some natural goodies: Pinecones, small pine boughs, berries, mistletoe, holly, cinnamon sticks, etc.
If you live in an area that has this stuff, it's great to go out in late fall or early winter with baskets and let the kids collect the decorations themselves.
Now all you do is group your decorations and tie them on. Huck did the choosing and the holding and I did the tying with twine. Then we went back and tucked in a few more items.
Think with your nose. What will smell good burning in your house? The Norse also sprinkled mead on theirs for the aroma and to keep the log burning longer (remember, no work while it burns--this is a tradition we'll be embracing). But if you just don't happen to be big mead people, you can try mulled cider or mulled wine instead. Orange rinds or dried apple rings would be cool, too.
I think we'll use the small one above as a centerpiece on the table and then as a gift for some neighbors who host a big Christmas soup and caroling party every year. Then on either the Winter Solstice or Christmas Eve, we'll have a nice meal and burn the big one. Another Yule tradition I like is that everyone gets to make a wish for the new year as you light the log.
From start (collecting the decorations from nature) to finish (feasting, burning and making a wish) this is a really fun tradition for kids.
One tradition called for sprinkling the ashes of the Yule log around the house as a blessing. I ain't doing that either. I just got this place clean.