Another type of "Yule Log" is a piece of wood burned in a hearth or fireplace to celebrate the passing of the Yule season. Sometimes practiced on the Winter Solstice or during the twelve days of Christmas. A small piece of the log is removed from the fire and kept to burn in the following year's Yule celebration. At least that's how one story goes. It says the fire should be tended all night and kept burning, if it went out on the first attempt at lighting or through out the next twelve hours it would be a bad sign for the year to come. Most agree that the log should never be purchased however some say it should be taken from a neighbor's property as opposed to it's owner's yard.
Sometimes when a fireplace isn't available a yule log is set with candles and the candles take the place of the actual log burning.
Yule is the celebration of the Winter Solstice, as the Yule Log represents this time, we have Holly, Mistletoe, Rosemary, Oak, Spruce, Pine, Ivy, Fir and Poinsettia that also claim a spot in this holiday. The colors are red, green, white, silver and gold, or what I like to call Christmas colors. Most traditions celebrate with a meal and gift giving.
Some forms of Wicca celebrate this time as the rebirth of the Great Horned God, seen as the new sun, which interestingly enough can be seen in Christianity as well, where they celebrate the birth of the "son of God" in the form of the Baby Jesus in a manger.
There are many customs around the celebration of the Yule season as well as around the month of December. Just have a look at these:
Pancha Ganapati - This is a Hindu festival from the 21st - 25th that celebrates Lord Ganesha
Winter Solstice - a Celtic celebration from 21 to 23 each year in the Northern Hemisphere, and June 20 to 23 in the Southern Hemisphere
Yalda - a Persian celebration on the 21st in celebration of the Winter Solstice
Saturnalia - Ancient Roman festival held in honor of Saturn originally celebrated on the 17th
Boxing Day - A gift giving day observed in Australia, Canada, New Zealand, the United Kingdom and other areas
Flying Spaghetti Monster Day - Pastafarians have this day to reject all religious dogma, so yes, Virginia even Atheist's have "Pasta Claus"
For a list of some of the winter celebrations check here.
The point here is that as different as we try to be, the more similar we become. Happy Holidays vs. Merry Christmas? Really is it that big of a deal. Just live and let live.
For my family, we'll be having our first Yule log burning, as we just got a lovely wood stove. I'm not sure how I'll handle fishing out part to save for next year, but I will certainly do my best.
For those that don't have a fireplace, here's a video of a fire burning for your enjoyment.
I'll also be making the "other" Yule Log to take to Grandma's. So if you'd to see how to make one I found this video on YouTube.
For my fellow Pagans, I'd like to share this really nice Yule song I found on Youtube.
Namaste & Blessed Be