The burning yule log is symbolic of the light that will return after the dark days of early winter and gives us an excuse to gather with family and friends before a roaring fire.
The tradition is an old one, going back to the Druid custom of choosing a large log from an apple or oak tree, lighting it afire, and praying that it would burn forever.
In England, the log was selected months before Christmas. Because it was believed that all who brought it in from the woods would be protected against harm for the ensuing year, everyone lent a hand, making the event itself a festive time.
Custom also decreed that a piece from the previous year’s log be saved to light the new log. As the yule log burned, everyone danced and frolicked in its heat and warmth, safe in the knowledge that the evil spirits would stay away for another year.