Our tradition for the last 25 years has been to invite friends and family to search for a hidden yule log, followed by a community campfire. This year will be a do-it-yourself hunt for the yule log. Enjoy getting outside and taking part in an ancient tradition! Here’s the rules:
A map and your first clue is now posted at the main sign at the parking lot. Expect to walk about 3/4 mile round trip on easy trails. Bring your family/social bubble out at your convenience between December 13 through December 20 and search for the Yule Log. The Yule Log will be a white birch log decorated with red ribbon and greens. Leave the largest Yule Log for others to find and bring home a smaller yule log to either burn or have as a decoration.
The Yule Log Story
The story of the Yule Log begins in Scandinavian countries where the winters were dark and cold and coincides with the winter solstice, the shortest and darkest day of the year. The origin of the word Yule has several proposed origins: an Old Norse word “jol” came to mean a celebration of the winter solstice (and later the 12 days of Christmas and “jolly”) or from an Anglo-Saxon word “iul” meaning wheel. In Old Almanacs Yule was represented by the symbol of a wheel and implied the year turning on a wheel or the wheel of life. Ancient cultures thought the sun was like a wheel moving across the sky. As we approach winter solstice, the sun still appears to move from east to west, but is also getting lower and lower in the sky. In northern climates the sun starts to sink below the horizon leaving only brief hours of daylight. Ancient Celts believed the sun might disappear altogether. Fire became an important symbol of the continuation of light despite the darkness outside as well as providing warmth.
One tradition that was popular in medieval times was for the lord of the manor to hide a yule log and invite the town citizens to search for it. Once found, a team of horses brought it back to the manor where the celebration would last as long as the log burned, possibly for 2-3 days. Traditionally, the log was from an apple, oak or birch tree. Folklore says to sprinkle wine and wheat on the yule log fire to usher in peace and prosperity for the New Year. The yule log was never burned completely, a piece was saved to burn the following year to give thanks.
The Yule Log Tradition coincides with the Winter Solstice.
Winter Solstice Explained Here
Pick up Activity Sheets at our Main Sign:
Make a Winter Sunrise/Sunset Chart
Measure Shadows on the Shortest Day