What story is behind the traditional Yule log?

Pastry or iced, there are many Christmas logs. The great classic: the chocolate roulade whose shape and color recall those of the wooden stump. A choice which is not due to chance, since originally, the so-called Christmas “log” was a real log.

The real Yule log was not eaten

2500 BC, the tradition was that, each year, we celebrated the end of the winter solstice, the shortest day of the year. Whether the current year is a leap year or not, the winter solstice occurs on December 21, 22, or 23. On the occasion of this festival, at the time celebrated in the countries of Northern Europe, a large log was burned in the fireplace of each home. This had to be maintained for as long as possible, up to 12 days. A ceremonial which consisted of night and day surveillance of the log and above all, a call for prosperity.

A lucky custom

The longer the log burned, the better the coming year looked. A belief that would help to obtain fruitful harvests, in optimal weather conditions. To ensure a good combustion of the log and to celebrate it, the log was decorated with foliage, ribbons and others. So many additions that we find today, on what is now a Christmas dessert.

The appearance of the pastry log

Over the centuries, fireplaces became narrower, houses became cozier and large logs no longer had their place. However, this is not why the log became a pastry chef.

According to rumor, it was only at the end of the 19th century that the pastry log made its appearance. For Jean-Pierre Lemasson, associate professor in the Department of Urban and Tourism Studies at UQAM, interviewed by Radio-Canada, this creation would be signed Pierre Lacam, Parisian pastry chef. Was it a pastry prepared with sponge cake, meringue or cream? The mystery remains.

This ancestral custom would therefore have served as inspiration for a pastry chef looking for a new creation. Since then, the Yule log has conquered beyond borders since it is found, each year, on millions of tables. From France to Luxembourg, via Switzerland and Quebec, the craze is such that this Christmas dessert is now iconic.

A beautiful story to tell at the table on Christmas Eve.

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