The Threshold - to the yulelog
If, gentle reader, you will step across this threshold, now, as the moon rises in the keen Christmas air, and will find a place by the ruddy ingle within-doors, you may hear, if you will, a Babel of voices from many lands, telling over the adventures of the road and falling into the good-fellowship of the happy Christmas season.
Here from the north, with his ample furs thrown back, sits the Russian in friendly talk with a gay little wanderer from Sicilian valleys. There, with elbow crooked by a foaming tankard, leans the German, narrating his perils and pleasures to a gallant Frenchman and a sunbrowned Spaniard who smoke and chatter together as now and then Mynheer stops for a pull at his pipe.
A Swede, Norwegians, an Englishman or two, and even a happy-go-lucky American, are clustered about the Yulelog; for the place you have entered is the common-room of the wide world.
As you slip the latch and take your seat, some traveller calls out: A Merry Christmas! Another cries: A story, a story! and so they fall to, each from his own scrip taking forth a native tale,--and so they sit the midnight out listening and talking in turn; while the good cheer goes round in endless abundance and laughter and song make interludes for thevaried narratives.
Those who yearn for spiritual meaning but aren't strongly affiliated with a specific religion sometimes feel left out of winter holidays. Yule is like a hot toddy for these chilled and isolated souls. From mistletoe to gift exchanging, Yule explores and exalts the pagan and regional roots to many of our contemporary rituals and celebrations. For example, lights were historically used to decorate winter homes in order to "frighten negative entities and urge the sun to shine," according to author Dorothy Morrison.
Many people believe that Santa's reindeer "represent the stags that drew the chariot of the Norse gift-giving goddess, Freya." Beyond all the fascinating trivia, this is also a book that offers fresh approaches to old traditions, such as having a cleaning ritual that ceremoniously sweeps out the old and makes room for the new season or conducting a reverent "tree blessing" ceremony.
Morrison also suggests numerous homemade crafts and gift ideas (many are suitable for children), inviting seasonal recipes (such as Yuletide Ambrosia and Dragon's Layer Cake), and a December calendar that lists traditions and rituals for every day of the month.
Yule Log Traditions