Twelfth Night was so-named for a very good reason; the festival of Christmas covered 12 days, starting on Christmas Day and ending on January 6. Today we do it all very differently. Well, Christmas starts so much earlier. By December 1 most people are busy buying presents, sending cards and putting up Christmas decorations then bracing themselves for the office party.
When Christmas Day and Boxing Day are over, there’s another big bunfight to look forward to on New Year’s Eve (which, until recently, was never a big deal south of the border), leaving people feeling partied-out and wanting to take their decorations down on January 1, ready to go back to work the next day. It’s quite understandable; instead of the traditional 12 days, today’s festive season stretches over a whole month.
SOMEWHERE in the transition to a modern Christmas other old festive customs have vanished from our hearths and homes but one that might be fun to bring back is the Yule log. Tradition had it that the official start of Christmas celebrations was marked on Christmas Eve (or Yuletide, as it was also known), by bringing in the Yule log, which was then burnt on the fire. While it burnt you’d enjoy your wassail, which might be a glass of cider or mulled ale.
Then when the flames had died down the unburnt embers were traditionally kept for relighting next year’s Yule log.
So why not give it a go? After all, logs are a renewable resource, very “green” for open fires and wood-burning stoves, which cut down your use of fossil-fuel-fired central heating. And burning a “special” log is a good way to get Christmas off to a proper start with the family, in the heart of the home.
I don’t suggest going to the woods to hunt for a suitable log now. Instead sort through your wood stack if you are a regular log-user and choose the biggest, most gnarled chunk available, or if you’ve taken an old apple tree or something similar down during the year, chop out a chunk that’s big and has bags of character.
Stand it somewhere dry, then spruce it up with a few holly leaves or bits of ivy and bring it in to burn on Christmas Eve. If you don’t have a hearth or you live in a smokeless zone you can cheat – find a suitable log (they are on sale at many garages and small grocery stores, especially in rural areas) and decorate it with evergreen foliage, berries and whatever else festive you fancy, and add a candle. It doesn’t have to be real; a fake battery-powered one would do and it’s far safer if children are around.
Then sit back and enjoy the traditional scene, with a glass of mulled wine, or perhaps tea and cake. Think of it as a well-deserved rest before the fun really starts.
Source : EXPRESS