We are now approaching Yule, the Winter solstice.
In Europe, the longest night of the year, December 20-21. (In the far North there can be no daylight for months!).
Like all animals, we eat more in Winter than in the other months of the year. And, as we have no fur, we need to keep warm.
In old times, Yule was a feast of eating and drinking. And rest from the Agricultural work.
Yule lasted for twelve days; and it is where the 12 days of Christmas comes from!
Now, you have to imagine what a house was like in those far off times.
It would be circular, with a small entrance, which might be covered by a dried animal skin. The hearth for the "home fire",would be in the centre of the house, with a hole in the roof directly above to let out the smoke.
Now, during all the eating and drinking, nobody would want to venture out in the cold to gather firewood!
So the fire was kept going with a huge tree,stripped of branches. This was kept out of the house, and "fed" into the fire very slowly.The tree trunk would be about four or five meters long, and was meant to burn for the twelve days of Yule.
This was the real Yule Log!
I have to smile, at this time of year, when I see "Yule logs" for sale in the food shops. Rolls of sponge cake, decorated with white icing.And the customers thinking that they are buying an actual Yule Log!
Oh, well! At least, it keeps the memory of the real Yule Log alive!
So, at Christmas, if you should bite into one of these sponge cakes, remember "the old days", when people huddled around a central fire, eating and drinking in preparation for the dreaded cold of Winter.
All best wishes for Yule, and Christmas!