The superstitions related to the Yule Log are quite interesting and date back to the ancient times. Read on to know about the related Yuletide traditions.

Yule Log Superstitions

A Yule Log is burnt as a part of the Christmas or Yule tradition in many European countries. It is usually a huge log which is placed in the fireplace on Christmas Eve or in the beginning of the Twelve days of Christmas or the Twelfth night. The Yule Log is known to have its foundations in Germanic paganism, but some scholars do not agree to this. According to some, the log is related to the Anglo-Saxon pagan traditions. Irrespective of all, the Yule Log has long been a part of Christmas. Conventionally, the Yule Log used to be an entire tree, which was burnt to provide enough warmth to the entire family. As time passed by, even the Yule Log changed along with many other traditions that were molded according to the convenience of people. Now, small Yule Logs are either burnt in fireplaces or cakes are baked in the shape of Yule Logs. Interesting enough are the superstitions associated with this log though. Read on for more.

Yule Log Beliefs & Myths
The superstitions concerning the Yule Log vary from country to country. In England, oak is the usual Yule Log, whereas the French believe in burning cherry logs. The Yule Log is a symbol of affluence and is believed to bring luck. The popular legend about the Yule Log is of the Norse God Odin, who was the god of alcoholic drinks. So, during the winter celebrations in the 12th century, people used to burn woods and drink wine. This was the winter Solstice festival, which celebrated in most North European countries. The burning of the log was said to keep off evil spirits and hence, people wished for it to burn for as long as possible. Prayers and carols are still sung while performing the activity and, most of the time, the mothers or young girls of the family get the privilege of igniting the log. It is customary to preserve a small part of the Yule Log until the next year Christmas celebrations. Following are the superstitions associated with the Yule Log:
  • The ashes from the Yule Log are capable of protecting the house from natural calamities
  • Yule Logs should not be bought; they must be gifted or grown.
  • The Yule Log ashes, when soaked in water, can provide cure to illness both in case of human beings and animals.
  • Difficulty in lighting a Yule Log is considered ominous.
  • The Yule Log should burn through the Twelve days of Christmas or it may invite bad luck.
  • It is very inauspicious if the Yule Log is touched by a barefooted woman or a squint-eyed man.
  • The visiting of a flat-footed man while the Yule Log is burnt is also considered unfortunate.
  • Ashes of the log were put in the wells to keep the water good.
  • Embers would protect the home from the devil.
  • If the fire extinguished before night was through, it predicted an upcoming tragedy.
  • If the flames from the Yule Log displayed a shadow without a head, the head of the house was presumed to die within the year.
The benefits from burning the Yule Log also differ with the nature of the log:
  • Oak has curative qualities and can bring strength and wisdom.
  • Pine symbolizes growth and prosperity
  • Ash stands for protection, prosperity and goodness of health.
  • Holly is for good sight.
  • Birch suggests a new start.
  • Willow helps in accomplishing one’s wishes.
In the olden days and even today, people tuck notes of good wishes into the foliage that comes with the Yule Log. In some other traditions, notes of errors or bad choices are put. The burning of these notes in the fire signifies a new beginning, suggesting a fresh start for all. However, it is important to keep in mind that the log burns the entire night, so efforts should be taken to let the fire survive the night.

Yule Log Celebrations

United Kingdom
The Yule Log in U.K. is called "The Mock". The log is dried and kept in the house. At some places, ash twigs are burnt instead of oak. This tradition comes from the legend in which the shepherds burnt huge ash twigs to keep baby Jesus warm.

In France, it is a family activity, where the entire family engages in cutting the log into small pieces and burning it through the Twelve Days of Christmas. Here, cherry logs are used as Yule Logs.

In Holland, the process is same as that in France, except for the part where the log is kept. In Holland, the log is kept under the bed till it is finally lit on the assigned day.

Today, burning the Yule Log has become a significant custom. Yule Log cakes are famous traditional delicacies. People even decorate the Yule Log before burning it. Chocolates in the shape of a Yule Log are also becoming famous. Burning the Yule Log is as important aspect of the Christmas celebrations and has many good and bad omens associated with it.