Yule Log is a significant part of Christmas traditions. Yule log is a large log burned in the hearth of the house. It is a symbol of prosperity and luck. It is believed, if the tradition is followed with sincerity and devotion, it would bring good health, wealth and productivity in the year ahead.
The Story of Yule Log
The tradition is practiced in many countries and hence several legends are associated with its origin. The most popular story of the Yule Log dates back to the 12th century. During this period in most of the European countries, the winter festival was celebrated by burning wood and drinking wine. The Solstice festival was Jol (Yule) which was celebrated throughout Northern Europe and Scandinavia. It was a feast to honor the Norse God, Odin who was the God of Intoxicating Drink. The custom of Yule Log emerged from the Europe’s winter festival.
Tradition of Yule Log
Burning the Yule Log is a crucial Christmas tradition today. The custom of Yule log varies from region to region. It was originally a large tree brought to the house with great ceremony. On Christmas, people light the Yule log placed in the hearth and wish that it burns for longer. As per the belief, all the family members must sit on it before it is burnt. It is also customary to say prayers and sing Christmas songs while performing the traditional activity. In some families, young girls and mothers take the privilege to light the log. The burning of the Yule Log brings in good fortune for the family and friends and scare off the evil spirits. After the Christmas celebrations, a piece of the Yule log is kept to relight the next year’s log.
December 21st is the Winter Solstice.The winter solstice is the solstice that occurs in winter. It is the time at which the Sun appears at noon at its lowest altitude above the horizon. In the Northern Hemisphere this is the Southern solstice, the time at which the Sun is at its southernmost point in the sky, which usually occurs on December 21 to 22 each year.
In the Southern Hemisphere this is the Northern solstice, the time at which the Sun is at its northernmost point in the sky, which usually occurs on June 20 to 21 each year.
The axial tilt of Earth and gyroscopic effects of the planet’s daily rotation keep the axis of rotation pointed at the same point in the sky. As the Earth follows its orbit around the Sun, the same hemisphere that faced away from the Sun, experiencing winter, will, in half a year, face towards the Sun and experience summer. Since the two hemispheres face opposite directions along the planetary pole, as one polar hemisphere experiences winter, the other experiences summer.
More evident from high latitudes, a hemisphere’s winter solstice occurs on the shortest day and longest night of the year, when the sun’s daily maximum elevation in the sky is the lowest. Since the winter solstice lasts only a moment in time, other terms are often used for the day on which it occurs, such as “midwinter”, “the longest night”, “the shortest day” or “the first day of winter”. The seasonal significance of the winter solstice is in the reversal of the gradual lengthening of nights and shortening of days.
Worldwide, interpretation of the event has varied from culture to culture, but most Northern Hemisphere cultures have held a recognition of rebirth, involving holidays, festivals, gatherings, rituals or other celebrations around that time.