Sunday, November 6, 2011

How to Make a Yule Log for Children

The tradition of the Yule log started in Europe to celebrate the winter solstice and entice the sun to return to warm the earth. It was later adopted by Christians to represent keeping the stable warm for the baby Jesus. The English traditionally used oak logs, while the Scottish used birch and the French used cherry wood sprinkled with wine for aroma. The log is carved, decorated and burned during the 12 days of Christmas, starting on Christmas Eve, to bring good luck to the home in the coming year. You can start a tradition of making a Yule log with your children as part of your winter holiday celebrations.

Difficulty:EasyLogPine conesPine and spruce branchesHolly sprigsPocket knifeWineCinnamonNutmegAllspiceHot glue gunRibbonsFlour sifterFlour or powdered sugar1

Take a family hike and scavenge around a forested area for a large, natural-looking log with texture and character. Traditionally, people needed almost a whole tree, since they burned it for 12 days. However, the size you need will depend on the size of your fireplace and how long you plan to actually burn your log. Given the smaller dimensions of most modern fireplaces, one option is to let each child choose a medium-size log and make her own Yule log. Children can take turns burning their logs on different days. Also collect pine cones, pine and spruce branches, and holly sprigs.


Carve festive designs into logs with a pocket knife.


Pour wine over the logs for a traditional, fragrant French Yule log. Or let children generously coat their Yule logs with cinnamon, nutmeg and allspice.


Tie ribbons around the logs. Hot-glue pine cones, pine and spruce branches, and holly sprigs to the logs. Sift flour or powdered sugar over the top of each log to look like newly fallen snow.


Hold a family night around the fireplace. Burn a Yule log while sipping cocoa or hot cider, reading Christmas stories, and talking about the things that bring light and hope into your home. If you are religious, you can pray together for the light of God to bless your home in the coming year.

With adult supervision, children can sprinkle their Yule logs with chemicals that produce colors when burned. Potassium nitrate makes violet; barium nitrate makes apple green; borax makes vivid green; copper sulfate makes blue; and table salt makes bright yellow.

If your children do not want to burn their Yule logs, they can follow the Irish custom of burning candles instead. Drill holes into the top of each log to act as candle holders. Insert candles and secure with hot wax or hot glue. Light the candles and engage in your family holiday activities in the warm glow.

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