Other Religions Paganism and Wicca Make a Yule Log A Time-Honored Tradition Share Flipboard Email Print Decorate a Yule log for your family's celebration. Steve Gorton / Dorling Kindersley / Getty Images Paganism and Wicca Sabbats and Holidays Basics Rituals and Ceremonies Wicca Gods Herbalism Wicca Traditions Wicca Resources for Parents By Patti Wigington Paganism Expert B.A., History, Ohio University Patti Wigington is a pagan author, educator, and licensed clergy. She is the author of Daily Spellbook for the Good Witch, Wicca Practical Magic and The Daily Spell Journal. our editorial process Facebook Facebook Twitter Twitter Patti Wigington Updated October 14, 2019 As the Wheel of the Year turns once more, the days get shorter, the skies become gray, and it seems as though the sun is dying. In this time of darkness, we pause on the Solstice and realize that something wonderful is happening. It's usually around December 21 — unless you're in the southern hemisphere, where it falls in June — but it's not always on the same date. At Yule, the sun stops its decline into the south. For a few days, it seems as though it’s rising in exactly the same place… and then something amazing and miraculous takes place. The light begins to return. Did You Know? The tradition of the Yule log began in Norway, where a giant log was hoisted onto the hearth to celebrate the return of the sun each year.Hold a simple ritual by having each family member write down wishes, place them in the log, and then burn it in your fireplace. Once Christianity spread through Europe, logs were burned and the ashes were scattered about the house to protect the family within from hostile spirits. The sun begins its journey back to the north, and once again we are reminded that we have something worth celebrating. In families of all different spiritual paths, the return of the light is celebrated, with Menorahs, Kwanzaa candles, bonfires, and brightly lit Christmas trees. On Yule, many Pagan and Wiccan families celebrate the return of the sun by adding light into their homes. One very popular tradition — and one that children can do easily — is to make a Yule log for a family-sized celebration. History and Symbolism Bettmann Archive / Getty Images A holiday celebration that began in Norway, on the night of the winter solstice it was common to hoist a giant log onto the hearth to celebrate the return of the sun each year. The Norsemen believed that the sun was a giant wheel of fire which rolled away from the earth, and then began rolling back again on the winter solstice. As Christianity spread through Europe, the 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 hostile spirits. Gathering the Symbols of the Season Because each type of wood is associated with various magical and spiritual properties, logs from different types of trees might be burned to get a variety of effects. Aspen is the wood of choice for spiritual understanding, while the mighty oak is symbolic of strength and wisdom. A family hoping for a year of prosperity might burn a log of pine, while a couple hoping to be blessed with fertility would drag a bough of birch to their hearth. In our house, we usually make our Yule log out of pine, but you can make yours of any type of wood you choose. You can select one based on its magical properties, or you can just use whatever is handy. To make a basic Yule log, you will need the following: A log about 14 – 18” longPine conesDried berries, such as cranberriesCuttings of mistletoe, holly, pine needles, and ivyFeathers and cinnamon sticksSome festive ribbon – use paper or cloth ribbon, not the synthetic or wire-lined typeA hot glue gun All of these — except for the ribbon and the hot glue gun — are things you can gather outside. You might wish to start collecting them earlier in the year, and saving them. Encourage your children to only pick up items they find on the ground, and not to take any cuttings from live plants. Begin by wrapping the log loosely with the ribbon. Leave 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, begin gluing on the pine cones, cinnamon sticks and berries. Add as much or as little as you like. Remember to keep the hot glue gun away from small children! Celebrating With Your Yule Log Jeff Johnson / EyeEm / Getty Images Once you’ve decorated your Yule log, the question arises of what to do with it. For starters, use it as a centerpiece for your holiday table. A Yule log looks lovely on a table surrounded by candles and holiday greenery. Another way to use your Yule log is to burn it as our ancestors did so many centuries ago. A simple but meaningful tradition is to, before you burn your log, have each person in the family write down a wish on a piece of paper, and then insert it into the ribbons. It’s your wishes for the upcoming year, and it's okay to keep those wishes to yourselves in hopes that they will come true. You can also try our simple Family Yule Log Ritual. If you have a fireplace, you can certainly burn your Yule log in it, but it's a lot more fun to do it outside. Do you have a fire pit in the back yard? On the night of the winter solstice, gather out there with blankets, mittens, and mugs full of warm drinks as your burn our log. As you watch the flames consume it, discuss how thankful you are for the good things that have come your way this year. It's a perfect time to talk about your hopes for abundance, good health, and happiness in the next twelve months.