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8974Yule log origins and trivia

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  • Kiara
    Dec 9, 2011
      Yule log - origins & trivia

      In Northern Europe, Winter festivities were once considered to be a Feast of
      the Dead, complete with ceremonies full of spirits, devils, and the haunting
      presence of the Norse god, Odin, and his night riders. One particularly
      durable Solstice festival was "Jol" (also known as "Jule" and pronounced
      Yule"), a feast celebrated throughout Northern Europe and particularly in
      Scandinavia to honor Jolnir, another name for Odin. Since Odin was the god
      of intoxicating drink and ecstasy, as well as the god of death, Yule customs
      varied greatly from region to region. Odin's sacrificial beer became the
      specially blessed Christmas ale mentioned in medieval lore, and fresh food
      and drink were left on tables after Christmas feasts to feed the roaming
      Yuletide ghosts. Even the bonfires of former ancient times survived in the
      tradition of the Yule Log, perhaps the most universal of all Christmas

      The origins of the Yule Log can be traced back to the Midwinter festivals in
      which the Norsemen indulged...nights filled with feasting, "drinking Yule"
      and watching the fire leap around the log burning in the home hearth. The
      ceremonies and beliefs associated with the Yule Log's sacred origins are
      closely linked to representations of health, fruitfulness and productivity.
      In England, the Yule was cut and dragged home by oxen or horses as the
      people walked alongside and sang merry songs. It was often decorated with
      evergreens and sometimes sprinkled with grain or cider before it was finally
      set alight.

      In Yugoslavia, the Yule Log was cut just before dawn on Christmas Eve and
      carried into the house at twilight. The wood itself was decorated with
      flowers, colored silks and gold, and then doused with wine and an offering
      of grain. In an area of France known as Provencal, families would go
      together to cut the Yule Log, singing as they went along. These songs asked
      for blessings to be bestowed upon their crops and their flocks. The people
      of Provencal called their Yule Log the trefoire and, with great ceremony,
      carried the log around the house three times and christened it with wine
      before it was set ablaze.

      To all European races, the Yule Log was believed to bring beneficial magic
      and was kept burning for at least twelve hours and sometimes as long as
      twelve days, warming both the house and those who resided within. When the
      fire of the Yule Log was finally quenched, a small fragment of the wood
      would be saved and used to light the next year's log. It was also believed
      that as long as the Yule Log burned, the house would be protected from
      witchcraft. The ashes that remained from the sacred Yule Log were scattered
      over fields to bring fertility, or cast into wells to purify and sweeten the
      water. Sometimes, the ashes were used in the creation of various charms...to
      free cattle from vermin, for example, or to ward off hailstorms.

      Some sources state that the origin of Yule is associated with an ancient
      Scandinavian fertility god and that the large, single Log is representative
      of a phallic idol. Tradition states that this Log was required to burn for
      twelve days and a different sacrifice to the fertility god had to be offered
      in the fire on each of those twelve days.
      http://www.thehisto ryofchristmas. com/trivia/ yulelog.htm

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