The Christmas Yule Log

In Sara’s Surprise, a Bûche de Noël cake became a special Yule Log wedding cake. For Sara, it was the perfect cake for her Christmas wedding. But where did the Yule Log tradition come from?

 

The Custom

The custom of the Yule Log goes back to before medieval times. It was originally based on the Nordic tradition of Yule, a Winter Solstice festival. Burning the Yule Log was one of the most widespread Christmas traditions in early modern Europe, with the first recording of its appearance dating to 1184. For the Christian feast of Christmas, the Yule Log symbolizes the battle between good and evil—“as the fire grows brighter and burns hotter, and as the log turned into ashes, it symbolized Christ’s final and ultimate triumph over sin.”

The traditional Yule Log was originally an entire tree carefully chosen and brought into the house with great ceremony. The largest end of the log would be placed into the fire hearth while the rest of the tree stuck out into the room. The log would be lit from the remains of the previous year’s log that was carefully stored away. Then, the Yule Log was slowly burned throughout the Twelve Days of Christmas.

As Christianity spread through Europe, the Yule Log tradition became part of Christmas Eve festivities. The father or master of the house would sprinkle the log with libations of mead, oil, or salt. Once the log was burned in the hearth, the ashes were scattered about the house to protect the family within from evil spirits. On Christmas morning something green, a leaf or the like, was brought into the house before anything was taken out. A piece of the Yule Log was then saved to light the next year’s log.

In Provence, France, the whole family helps to cut the log down and a little bit is burnt each night. In the Netherlands, the leftover log is stored under a bed. In some eastern European countries, the log was cut down on Christmas Eve morning and lit that evening.

The custom of the Yule Log spread all over Europe and different kinds of wood are used in different countries. In England, oak is traditional; in Scotland, birch; in France, cherry wood is sprinkled with wine before it’s burned so it smells nice.

In Devon and Somerset in the UK, some people use ash twigs instead of a log. This comes from a local legend that Joseph, Mary, and Jesus were cold when the shepherds found them on Christmas Night. So the shepherds collected twigs to burn and keep them warm. In Ireland they use a large candle instead of a log that’s lit on New Year’s Eve and Twelfth Night.

In France, the Yule Log is bûche de noel where a custom required peasants to bring a log to their lord. In Burgundy, gifts were hidden under the log. In Provence and Brittany prayers were offered as the log was lit, a custom still widely observed called cacho fio (blessing of the log). The eldest male parades the log around the house three times. Then it’s blessed with wine and lit with the ashes of the previous year’s log.

 

Bûche de Noël cake

Since now most homes have central heat and gas fireplaces, the Yule log custom has been replaced by a log-shaped cake called Bûche de Noël. The name Bûche de Noël originally referred to the Yule Log itself, but was transferred to the dessert after the custom had fallen out of use during the first half of the 20th century. By 1945, Bûche de Noël referred to the cake.

A Yule Log cake (or Bûche de Noël) is a traditional dessert served at Christmas, especially in France, Switzerland, Belgium, Canada, Lebanon, Catalonia, and the United Kingdom. It’s made of sponge cake to resemble a miniature actual Yule Log.

The original Yule Log recipe emerged during the 19th century. It is traditionally yellow sponge cake baked in a large, shallow Swiss roll pan, iced with chocolate buttercream, rolled to form a cylinder, and iced again on the outside. Often the icing is flavored with liquors or espresso.

Yule logs are often served with one end cut off and set atop the cake, or protruding from its side to resemble a chopped off branch. Dragging a fork through the icing produces a bark-like texture, and sprinkled with powered sugar to look like snow. Other decorations may include actual berries or tree branches or berries, branches, and even mushrooms made of marzipan.

Yule Log decoration

You can make a Yule Log decoration to adorn your table. You will need the following (real or bought at Hobby Lobby or another craft store):

  • A log about 14 – 18” long
  • Pine cones, dried berries, such as cranberries
  • Holly, mistletoe, pine needles, or ivy
  • Feathers, cinnamon sticks
  • Some festive ribbon (use paper or cloth ribbon, not the synthetic or wire-lined type)
  • A hot glue gun (Remember to keep the hot glue gun away from small children.)

Wrap the log loosely with the ribbon, leaving enough space that you can insert your branches, cuttings and feathers under the ribbon. You might even want to place a feather on your Yule Log to represent each member of the family. Once you’ve gotten your branches and cuttings in place, glue on the pinecones, cinnamon sticks and berries. Add as much or as little as you like.

Use it as a centerpiece for your holiday table. A Yule log looks lovely on a table surrounded by candles and holiday greenery. You can also have each person in the family write down a wish for the upcoming year on a piece of paper, and then insert it into the ribbons. Then you can talk about your hopes for abundance, good health, and happiness in the next twelve months.

 

 

 

A great Christmas gift

Wow! Christmas in a week? No way!

I hope you’ve enjoyed my stories, whether The Fabric of Hope, Christmas Charity, Katelyn’s Choice, or my most recent novella, Sara’s Surprise. Any (or all) of them would make great Christmas gifts…as would any book. Books are the gift that keep on giving!

If you haven’t yet read Sara’s Surprise, here’s a short excerpt:

Sean gathered Madison in his arms, hugging her tight and lifting her into his arms. Over her shoulder, he bobbed his head and tossed Sara a smile. His heart thumped at the sight of her, her gentle eyes returning his greeting. She rose as he joined her.

“Thank you for watching my girl.”

Sara waved toward the table. “My pleasure. Will you join us?” Her eyes seemed to beg him to stay. He’d like nothing more.

He set Madison down and moved to an empty place. “If I’m not imposing.”

Madison patted his hand. “Miss Ann said she had cobbler for us. But you have to eat all your dinner before you can have some.” She pointed to her plate. “I ate all of mine.”

Sara shook her head. “She’s a corker. Ne’er seen the like of it.”

Sean reached over to tickle Madison under the chin. “You can say that again.”

His daughter giggled. “What’s a corker?”

Sara patted her hand. “An adorable, enjoyable, funny, delightful darling, that’s what.”

Sean’s pulse quickened, and perspiration tickled his brow. He swiped it with his napkin. Sara’s a corker too.

Sara rose from her chair. “I’ll be right back.”

What was it about this woman that made him feel like a sentimental schoolboy? Everything.

“Sara’s so nice, Papa. You should marry her, and she can be my mama.”

He froze, furiously scanned the room hoping no one heard the comment, and turned a scolding eye to his daughter. “Hush, child.”

Madison pursed her lips, frowning an apology.

Sara returned with a pretty smile on her face, a plate of food and a glass of lemonade in her hands. “I wasn’t sure if you’d like coffee, but seeing it’s so warm this evening, I thought this would be most refreshing.”

Sean grinned, motioning for her to join them. “It’s perfect. Your smile reminds me of an Irish saying, ‘Continual cheerfulness is a sign of wisdom.’”

Sara’s cheeks turned a pretty pink, and she batted her long lashes. “Why, thank you, kind sir. But I think I’m far from a state of wisdom.”

“There are different degrees of wisdom, lass.” He pointed to his daughter with a tilt of his fork. “This one is too wise for her own good sometimes, but you seem to have a fairly balanced measure of wisdom.” He took another bite. “This is delicious. We’ll have to come here more often.”

Nearby, a sing-song voice offered agreement. “And I hope you do.”

Buy it here at Amazon or Barnes&Nobles.

Thanks!

 

 

 

Meet author Kathy Collard Miller

Kathy Collard Miller is the most surprised that God has given her opened doors to write 55 books and speak in 8 foreign countries and 35 US States. Her books are in a variety of non-fiction genres: women’s Bible studies, Christian Living and inspiration, and Bible commentaries. She is a wife, mom, and grandma and lives with her fabulous husband of almost 50 years in Southern California.

Tell us about your newest book.

Heart Wisdom is a women’s Bible study about Proverbs. It’s the fourth book available in her Daughters of the King Bible Study series. Each of the ten lessons focus on one topic that Proverbs addresses. There are questions and room to answer along with commentary.

What inspired you to write Heart Wisdom?

I love to study in depth each book of the Bible and when it was time to study Proverbs, I wanted a way to categorize the different topics. I began reading each verse in order and then wrote the verse down in a notebook on a page that was labeled with the appropriate topic. I used that research to create the ten lessons on different topics in Heart Wisdom.

How would you describe this book to someone in a 30-second blurb?

The biblical book of Proverbs spreads its wisdom throughout the book, so Heart Wisdomhelps the Bible student to categorize and study the many topics.

What genre do you focus on and why?

Non-fiction because that’s the way I think. I did write one short story that was published and I have half a novel written but I love to share practical, biblical wisdom with readers while sharing stories and instruction to make the Bible come alive.

Why do you write? What drives you?

I love sitting at my desk and putting thoughts, beliefs, and concepts into words on the computer page. I do know it’s God’s giftings. I just never knew his full plan. I’ve been writing since 1978 when my first article was published. I’m so grateful that the Lord encourages me with sometimes seeing my writing make a difference in someone’s life.

What is your work schedule like when you’re writing a book?

My first priority is to write. And I always have a new book in my mind when I finish one of the them. I’m also a lay counselor so the challenge of writing is a difficult one. But I want to seek God’s will by abiding so sometimes I put someone on a waiting list who wants counseling. And I also have a fabulous family including my husband. Our nest is empty and family lives a little distance away, so we counsel together.

What is the hardest part of being an author? Why?

Being interrupted by the needs of others. My temptation is to feel most comfortable at my desk and not with people. But people are the reason I’m writing, so again, I must surrender to whatever God wants for each of my days.

What’s the best part of your author’s life? Why?

Seeing ideas come together and being surprised by the insights God’s Spirit provides. Right now I’m writing a devotional book about the questions God and Jesus ask in the Bible and my research has revealed so many different background facts and ideas. I love it.

What’s one unusual fact about you?

I sky-dived! I still can’t believe I did it but I’m glad I did.

How have you changed or grown as a writer?

I think in Bible knowledge because of having to study the Word because I want to share truth not supposition.

What is your favorite pastime?

Writing. LOL. Truly. And travel. Larry and I have traveled to Greece eight times to minister there and I love it. We’ve been to many other countries and we are taking the family next summer on an Alaska cruise to celebrate our 50thwedding anniversary.

Do you have other books?

We’d love to know. Just a few. I’m currently writing my 56thand can’t believe it. It just means I’m old and have been writing a long time.

What are you working on now?

The working title is: 100 Questions God and Jesus Ask in the Bible: What They Reveal about God’s Nature and Our Motives.

Website: www.KathyCollardMiller.com

Link to book: https://www.amazon.com/Heart-Wisdom-Kathy-Collard-Miller/dp/1950051668/

Social media links: www.Facebook.com/KathyCollardMillerAuthor

@KathyCMiller

Instagram: KathyCollardMiller

 

 

 

Lisa Carter on romantic suspense

Multi-published author Lisa Carter likes to describe her romantic suspense novels as “Sweet Tea with a Slice of Murder.” The Stronghold won a 2017 Daphne du Maurier. Under a Turquoise Sky won the 2015 Carol Award. Beyond the Cherokee Trail was a 4½ star Romantic Times Top Pick. She also has two contemporary romance series with Love Inspired. Lisa enjoys traveling and researching her next fictional adventure. When not writing, she loves spending time with family and teaching writing workshops.

Tell us about your newest book.

Runaway bride AnnaBeth Cummings needs shelter for the holidays when a blizzard leaves her stranded, and rancher Jonas Stone’s happy to help. But his son’s been wishing for a mommy for Christmas, and town matchmakers are convinced Annabeth and Jonas are perfect for each other. As the storm clears, city girl AnnaBeth will have to decide: does her heart now belong in the country?

In the snowy splendor of an Appalachian winter, a little four-year-old cowboy’s Christmas wish brings these two hearts together for a happily-ever-after in a second chance romance set in the small town charm of the Blue Ridge Mountains.

What inspired you to write Stranded for the Holidays?

Stranded for the Holidays is the third book in the Blue Ridge Matchmakers series. The books are stand alone, but many characters from earlier books continue to make “cameo appearances.”

I love stranded at Christmas stories. On the surface, AnnaBeth and Jonas couldn’t be more different. A former debutante, she is bubbly, a big city girl. Jonas has been burned by love and is raising his young son, Hunter, on his beloved ranch in the beautiful Blue Ridge Mountains. Jonas is very quiet and down to earth. Yet his chemistry with AnnaBeth was fun to write. And the meddling machinations of the three elderly matchmakers seem to be a hit with readers.

How would you describe this book to someone in a 30-second blurb?

When a little boy makes a Christmas wish for a mommy, the truelove matchmakers make sure that a runaway bride and a widowed cowboy find in each other their one true love.

What genre do you focus on and why?

I got my start writing romantic suspense, but right now book contracts have me focusing on my contemporary romance series with Love Inspired.

What is your work schedule like when you’re writing a book?

I keep regular office hours. My best creative hours are in the morning so I’m usually working by eight a.m. I generally pull the plug on writing by three o’clock each day as my energy begins to flag. Sometimes I’ll work on marketing or turn on Netflix for “research” purposes.

What is the hardest part of being an author? Why?

Working in isolation and the self-doubt. After twenty-four books, you would think it gets easier to write. Not for me. I think it gets harder because with every book I try to stretch and grow my craft as a writer. To make this book better than the one before.

What’s the best part of your author’s life? Why?

I love meeting and interacting with readers. Writers were readers first. Book lovers speak the same language. It’s like finding your tribe.

What’s one unusual fact about you?

I have a Netflix addiction to British mystery dramas.

What is your favorite pastime?

I love to travel.

Do you have other books? We’d love to know.

I’m writing my twenty-fifth book now. Set on the Outer Banks of North Carolina, A Vast and Gracious Tide, is my latest romantic suspense novel. Another romantic suspense novel, A Sound of Falling Leaves, will release in 2020. The best way to keep up with my book happenings is to sign up for my monthly newsletter.

What are you working on now?

I just turned in book four in the Blue Ridge Matchmaker series to my editor. I’m currently writing book five.

Website: http://www.lisacarterauthor.com.

Link to book: https://www.amazon.com/Stranded-Holidays-Love-Inspired-Carter/dp/1335479600/

Social media links:

Follow Lisa on Facebook, Twitter and BookBub.

 

 

 

 

 

Sara’s Surprise

Sara’s Surprise released a few weeks ago and is getting rave reviews. If you’ve read it, please consider writing a review. If not, here’s a quick excerpt:

Sara carefully picked up one of the heavy trays with three teapots on it, trying not to spill as her hands shook.

How could he expect her to know things when he didn’t tell her? How dare he? She gnashed her teeth, attempting to disseminate her frustration.

Once in the lobby, Sara could see where she was to set the tea—a long, finely decorated table adorned with flowers and a lacy tablecloth. Two waiters in perfect livery stood like soldiers at attention. She set the tray on the table and removed the pots, careful not to spill any tea on the lace. As she started to return to the kitchen, something latched around her ankles.

Sara squeaked out a high-pitched “ah!” before clamping her mouth closed. Snapping her gaze downward, she discovered Madison looking up with a mischievous grin, still holding tight to her while the tablecloth draped over the back half of the girl’s body.

“Good afternoon, Miss O’Neill. Papa thinks I’m sleeping in the office, but I couldn’t sleep. I wanted to say hello to you.” The imp gazed into the parlor, where about a dozen fancily dressed women waited for tea. She released Sara’s legs and grinned again. “I think I might get some treats. But it’s so hard to wait.” Her pretty little pout drew a smile from Sara.

“I must be about my work, wee one. I’ll try to save you something special. Now go back to your papa, else he mightn’t let you have any. And remember to be quiet as a mouse.” Sara glanced toward the front desk and picked up her empty tray to return to the kitchen.

“I will.” Madison scooted out from under the table and tiptoed toward the office unnoticed by her father.

Sara nodded her off with a whisper. “See you later, Madison Mouse.”

Madison giggled, putting her finger to her lips, and disappeared into the office.

Their pleasant moment together proved short-lived. Chef LaFleur met Sara at the kitchen door, his face red and eyes blazing. “What are you doing, playing with that child when you should be working?”

~ ~ ~

And don’t forget…it’ll make a great Christmas gift!

Buy here on Amazon or Barnes&Nobles

Thanks, friends!