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Project Britain

British Christmas Traditions
by Mandy Barrow

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Yule Log

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The Yule Log

Woodlands Junior School is in the south-east corner of England

It is traditional to light a special 'Yule log' on Christmas Eve and keep it burning through the 12 nights of Christmas until Twelfth Night.

image: yule log

Traditionally, a huge log would be selected in the forest on Christmas Eve, decorated with ribbons, and dragged back home. This was known as 'Bringing in the Yule Log'. The magical properties of the Yule Log were said to ensure good luck in the coming year to all those who lent a hand at pulling it over the rough ground.

image: wine pouringOnce yule log was brought to the fireplace, a blessing was said over it, asking that it should last forever. Wine was poured over the log at this point to make it feel welcome. It was then placed on the fire and lit with a torch made from a piece of wood left over from last year's Yule Log.

After lighting, it was kept burning throughout the twelve days of Christmas. visit



The Celts believed that, for twelve days at the end of December, the sun stood still (which is why the days grew shorter and shorter). If they could keep yule logs burning bright for those twelve days, then the sun would be persuaded to move again, and make the days grow longer. If a Yule Log went out, then there would be terrible luck.

For Christians, the symbolism of the Yule log was that it represented the need to keep the stable warm for the Infant Christ.


Where does the word Yule come from?

Yule is an old word for the winter festival, dating back to Viking times.


Yule Logs today

If you ask people what a Yule log is today the most common answer would be a log shaped chocolate cake eaten around Christmas time.

image: yule log


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Mandy is the creator of the Woodlands Resources section of the Woodlands Junior website. 
The two websites and are the new homes for the Woodlands Resources.

Mandy left Woodlands in 2003 to work in Kent schools as an ICT Consulatant. 
She now teaches computers at The Granville School and St. John's Primary School in Sevenoaks Kent.