How to make an altar-sized Yule Log

(Craft project for Yule)



The candles can be short squat ones or longer ones if you're willing to drill holes in the log and insert them. Just gluing them is fine. The candles represent the life cycles of the deities, most commonly the Goddess. The white candle represents the innocent phase of life; it goes on the left. The red represents the childbearing phase; it goes in the middle. The black candle represents maturity and wisdom; it goes on the right. Arrange the holly around the candles so that drill holes or glue gun marks do not show. Tie a bow with the ribbon and stick on the front.

Ritual use:

Burn the candles during ritual or any times the Yule darkness threatens to overpower.

Pagan craft projects

An unusual, and unusually popular Christmas special aired on New York City's WPIX-TV.

The year was 1966. WPIX general manager Fred Thrower was big on Christmas, and particularly loved the image of the family gathered around the fireplace to enjoy a roaring fire. However, since New York City is so packed with apartments, that image seemed to be long-gone. Fighting urbanization with technology, Thrower came up with the idea of a televised fireplace. On 9:30 PM on December 24, 1966, the Yule Log made its debut. For around three hours, New York families could turn on channel 11, watch a roaring fire, and listen to Christmas carols in the background. The program was simulcast on the radio for those who wanted to listen to the music.

The years went by, and so did the Yule Logs. From 1966 to 1989, it became an institution in New York television. Then, for "financial reasons," WPIX cancelled the show. Many a baby boomer lamented the loss of his childhood Christmas cheer from the TV.

The Yule Log appeared on WPIX's web site in 2000, but that wasn't enough for some viewers. Joe Malzone grew tired of WPIX's stalling, and began a web site of his own entitled "Bring Back the Log" ( By October 2001, he had been contacted by more than 600 people from all across the country. This attracted the interest of Tom Vinciguerra, a writer for the New York Times. After that publicity, WPIX decided to finally bring back the Yule Log and broadcast it on December 25, 2001 from 8:00 to 10:00 AM. The program, assisted by its extra publicity and corporate underwriting, was seen by more than 200,000 families. It easily won its time slot in New York. The following year, more than 280,000 households tuned in. The Yule Log's cost, which basically consists of the lost advertising revenue of two commercial-free hours, was defrayed by contributions from Jeep, Macy's, and the New York Metropolitan Transit Authority.

The fireplace used for the original 1966 fireplace was Gracie Mansion, home of then-New York Mayor John Lindsay. When WPIX tried to re-shoot the film a few years later, they accidentally damaged a very expensive rug. The search for an identical fireplace led producers to a house in California; this footage has been used since 1970.

For those outside the New York area and unwilling to watch on-line, there were six TV simulcasts in 2002: Washington, DC (WBDC-TV); Denver (KWGN-TV); Albany (WEWB-TV); Indianapolis (WXIN-TV); Atlanta (WATL-TV); and Chicago (CLTV). These are all owned by the Tribune Corporation, which also owns WPIX. It is likely that there will be more stations on Christmas Day 2003, given the opportunities for underwriting and the growing name recognition of the Yule Log name.

Update Dec 24 2004: New York's MSG Network is airing the Yule Log locally. WGN, a superstation that is on many cable systems nationally, is also showing it.


The burning of the Yule Log dates back to the winter solstice celebrations of the Vikings. This was to celebrate the return of the sun, as the winter solstice is the shortest day of the year, thus it is the point when days start to get longer again. As part of the celebration, you would fetch the biggest tree you can find, and drag it home, generally with draft horses or oxen. These things really weren't small. The log would be dragged to the hearth, and slowly fed into the fireplace over the course of the celebrations. It was expected to last the entire time.

When the Normans invaded England, they brought this tradition along with them. And then, like many pagan traditions, it was co-opted as a Christian tradition, becoming part of the Christmas celebration. Lit on Christmas Eve, the Yule Log was to be kept burning throughout the 12 Days of Christmas.

Yule Logs were generally chopped down either off of your own property, or your neighbors. It is considered unlucky to actually purchase a Yule Log, you're expected to just take it, generally with the permission of whoever owns the land. Also to preserve luck, you must light the Yule Log with the remnant of the previous year's Yule Log. ... What do you mean you didn't save it?! Bad luck for you!

Sprigs of holly were added to the fire, to burn away the bad luck of the previous year, and help ensure that the coming year would bring luck. Any unnecessary work around the house was to be avoided while the Yule Log was burning.

After the burning of the Yule Log, pieces of it left over were collected, to be stored under the bed of the owners of the household. This brought good luck, and warded off house fires. Ashes from the fire were also saved, and scattered around the fields, to bring good luck to the crops that year.

The tradition of the Yule Log has died off. After all, the vast majority of people don't have any groves of trees nearby their place where they can cut down a massive log, and they don't have a massive fireplace in which to burn said log even if they are able to obtain one. But, some people have fake Yule Logs! Instead of burning a big hunk of wood, people will eat a smaller pastry that looks vaguely like a log. They're generally something along the lines of a flat piece of cake, smothered in chocolate or coffee flavoured icing, and then rolled up to look like a log. Quite tasty! These are sometimes called Buche de Noel. Anyways, here's a recipe for a Tiramisu Yule Log.

Start with the icing:

Mix the egg yolks and the sugar in a food processor for half a minute. Then add the vanilla, and continue for another minute. Cut the cream cheese into several chunks, and blend them in with the mix one at a time, until the mix is smooth. Then pour this mix into a bowl, cover, and stick it in the fridge to cool for an hour.

Beat your whipping cream until, well, it's whipped cream. Mix it into the cream cheese mixture, and once again, cover and chill for an hour.

And now the cake mix:

Separate 2 of the eggs, and place the whites in one bowl, and the yolks in a 2nd bowl, along with the other two eggs, the extra yolk, and the 125 mL of sugar. Beat on high speed until it is thick, and fluffy, and about triple the original volume. Then beat in the vanilla.

Mix the cake flour and the cornstarch, and then slowly sift it into the egg mixture, mixing with a whisk or spatula. Beat the egg whites until they're foamy, toss in the cream of tartar and the tablespoon of sugar, and continue beating until the whites are slightly stiff. Then fold the whites into the batter, and spread the mix into a greased 40 cm by 30 cm jelly roll pan. Bake at 230° for about 7 minutes, or until it's a golden brown, and the cake is springy.

When done, sprinkle it lightly with powdered sugar, and flip onto a clean towel, and roll it up tightly in the towel, then leave on a cooling rack.

Once cool, mix the instant coffee powder with 300 mL of hot water. Unroll the cake, and brush this mix over the cake. Spread most of the icing over the roll. Then take the semisweet chocolate, chopped finely in a food processor, and sprinkle most of it over the icing. Roll the cake back up, and then spread the rest of the icing over the log, topped with the rest of the chocolate. And chill for another hour. Done!

Carol Morton "Christmas Tradition of the Yule Log," The Master Gardener - Advice and how-to tips from the very best Master Gardeners. <> (January 2, 2005).

French Ministry of Culture. "The Yule Log," Christmas Traditions in France and in Canada. <> (January 2, 2005). "Tiramasu Yule Log," - Cooking good food with great recipes! 2002. <> (January 2, 2004).

Maltese Christmas Log

Maltese Christmas logs are yummy. Maltese Christmas logs are fab. And store-bought is never as good as homemade. Which is why my family went mental when I broke up with a guy, whose mum was an excellent nut crusher, They nagged me time and time again to come up with a suitable replacement. It being my first Christmas without a design review around the corner, I decided to give it a go and I'm proud too say that the first results weren't too shabby.

You will notice that the following recipe is nothing like the French Yule Log. The Maltese version uses Mediterranean ingredients which are similar to that of the traditional figolla, another annual holiday treat.

So, you will be needing:

A free evening 2 packets of 'Morning Coffee' biscuits 1 can of sweetened condensed milk 200g (7 oz) of pulverised almonds 200g (7 oz) of crushed hazelnuts and walnuts 1 shot of whisky 1 shot of cherry brandy 1 bar of dark cooking chocolate Chocolate covered sticks A sprinkling of icing sugar Grey baking (tracing) paper

If you're alone in the kitchen, it will help to spread out an A3 size of tracing paper on the kitchen counter and pour the shots into a glass. Just trust me on this one.

Cracking open and crushing the nuts is probably the most time-consuming part. However, you can prop yourself and a large bowl in front of the Tv for this process because it requires absolutely no mental activity. Or get your kids to do it. Spoons will come in handy when crushing the hazelnuts, but don't try to pulverise the little buggers. Quarters are fine. When you're done start mashing in the biscuits using your hands. Mix it all up, pour the almonds into the mixture along with half the can of milk. Keep mashing with your hands - it will get messy at this point - and pour in the rest of the milk slowly, as you feel the mixture drying. The mixture will feel wet but lumpy - sort of like a cookie dough. Finally, introduce the alcohol.

It is now time to form a log on top of the tracing paper. Once this is done, you can wash your hands and wrap the paper around the log so that it is completely covered. A tight wrapping will help to form the shape and allow the log to harden properly. Leave the log to refrigerate for thirty minutes. After a couple of shots of cherry brandy, you can start melting the chocolate bar. This can be done by breaking the bar into smaller chunks, adding a couple of tablespoons of water and gently heating in a small pan on a gentle fire. The better method is to put all the crushed pieces of chocolate in a thick, heat resistant bowl, fill a small pot with water and place the bowl in the pot. This is known as the Banju Marija method.

Open up your Christmas log and slather it with the melted chocolate. You can remove the extra tracing paper around the bottom using kitchen scissors. A form or a fork, flat against the log, will be helpful in creating a rough grainy texture - this is a bark after all. Chocolate sticks sprouting from the log at an angle can also be covered, for an even finish, to imitate little branches. Once complete, return the log to the refrigerator for a couple of hours.

Sprinkle with icing sugar, add a mistletoe leaf or two and serve in thin (10-15mm) slices. I'm sure you'll love it.

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