Post # 205 Buche de Noel, the Yule Log

December 23, 2013 at 1:36 PM | Posted in Uncategorized | Comments Off on Post # 205 Buche de Noel, the Yule Log

One of the traditions of Yuletide that never really was embraced in America is the Yule Log.  The custom started, as they always do, way back in the misty yesteryears of humankind.  It’s generally accepted as a European custom, but lighting a large fire on the shortest day/longest night of the year as a ritual against the cold and dark can be found all over the world.  That’s what the Yule Log started as.  It’s a bit of sympathetic magic to keep away the things the frightened us.

yule log 1

Centuries ago, families would search for a log of sufficient size to keep the fire going through the day and night.  Over time, it became ritualized and the log came to represent the passing of the old year.  A piece of the log that had not burned completely would be saved for the next year to symbolize continuity and good fortune for the upcoming year.  To add more symbolic magic to the rite, they started adding things to the log, like mistletoe with its white berries, and green moss, and holly with red berries.  You see where I’m going with this, don’t you?

Over time, and with the increase in education and sophistication, the yule log became more of a symbol.  As new religions clashed with old religions, rites and symbols combined and morphed.  The Yule Log became the Christmas Tree.  The tree, the evergreen, came inside and was symbolically set on “fire” with candle lights, eventually giving way to electric lights.  The berries turned into paper, then blown glass ornaments in multiple colors.  Still, though, the log for fire stuck around and became a gift to give each other during the yule season.

yule log 2

Still highly decorated, still set on “fire”, it’s still a log and as a candle holder, it can be used year after year to carry the tradition forward each year.

Now comes the odd part.  Somehow, and I have no idea how, the yule log also morphed into something to eat.  This is how most of us see the yule log with that name now.  It’s a rich, chocolatey cake shaped and decorated to look like a log.

Yule Log 3

It’s still decorated; it’s “on fire” as it’s baked; but no piece is carried over to the next year.  That would be some terrible tasting cake.  The Buche de Noel is a real treat for the eyes as well as the palate and is very easy to make.

But, you know?  I’m not going to tell you how to make it.  Here’s a link for any who want to try, and as always, please let me know how it goes if you do try it.  For those who don’t want to make one, you can buy these in specialty baking stores, and sometimes even in your local mega-super-big-market.



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