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Home » Food History

The Yule Log in France

Submitted by on December 14, 2010 – 10:21 pmNo Comment

The French tradition of the yule log began centuries ago, reports France Guide, the official website of the French Government Tourist Office.

At one time, all the family would gather around the hearth for Chirstmas. The children sang songs and listened to stories told by their grandparents while an enormous log burned in the fireplace. It would be made of a strong, hard wood that would burn all night. Decorated with leaves and ribbons, it was lit by the youngest and the oldest family members after being blessed by the head of the family with oil, brandy or sometimes with a branch that had been dipped in holy water.

The ashes were then saved because they would protect the home from lightening and the devil in the upcoming year.

This custom, starting in the 12th century, traveled throughout most of Europe and across the pond to Québec. However, the tradition had disappeared by the end of the 19th century because the large fireplaces were replaced by smaller, iron stoves.

Instead of a big log in the fireplace, families put a small one, decorated with candles and greenery, as the centerpiece for the Christmas table.

Today, a cake shaped and decorated like the Christmas log is used. It is the color of wood, and covered with chocolate or crème de café, sprinkled with glazed sugar and surrounded by little woodcutters and meringue mushrooms.

This typical French dessert was first created in Paris at the end of the 19th century in the ovens of the historian and pastrymaker Pierre Lecam, France Guide reports. A Yule Log should be enjoyed with a semi-sweet wine.

(Photo and ifnformation courtesy of France Guide)

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