Tuesday, December 21, 2010

Holiday Decorating Occasional Series 5 of 5 -- Yule Logs

Yule is an old name for the Winter Solstice.  It falls between the 20th and 23rd of December and signals the true beginning of winter.  It occurs on the longest night of the year when darkness overcomes daylight.  And traditionally as the sun’s arc stays close to the horizon most of December, many of the days seem darker.  This darkness is a perfect time for people to slow down, take stock of their situation and enjoy quiet moments with family.

Celebrating the Winter Solstice is something that I and my friends have done for years.  Once or twice we ended a rather unpleasant year by placing our worries, concerns and sadness on slips of paper and burning them in a great fire.  Thus relieved, we could begin the New Year with all its promise.

A Yule celebration, especially as gardeners, reminds us the promise of life that is hidden in this wintertime of slumber.

This is the last in a set of five postings I have done on decorating and using herbs for the holidays.  In my final Holiday Decorating post I thought I would give you instructions for two different Yule Logs, one to burn and one to eat. (If you want to see the others on scented dough, decorating tips, using cranberries and scented items, and the extra on herbal cookies, click these links or search the blog under Christmas or Holiday.)

Make a Yule Log to Burn

Yule logs are a tradition for the winter solstice, to bring light to the longest night of the year.  They have become a Christmas tradition in many areas as the holidays are so close together.

You need a nice sized fireplace log
A bag or two of oak moss (hobby store)
Some thinned white glue
A variety of spices, dried sprigs of herbs, pine boughs, and cones
Some paper ribbon for a bow
Raffia or twine

Cover the log with oak moss using thinned white glue (do not use hot glue – it is flammable.) Tie pine boughs and cones to the log.  Decorate your log with spices and herb branches.  Nutmeg and cinnamon release a wonderful scent when burned.  As a final touch add a burnable paper bow.  To burn the log place it over hot coals which will allow it to catch fire slowly and burn brightly.

Alternative Yule Log to Eat

Rather than create a log to burn, you can make this one to eat!  Share it with friends during your Holiday celebrations.

8 oz. cottage or cream cheese
8 oz. grated cheddar cheese
2 tsp. chili powder
¼ tsp. each thyme and rosemary
1 tsp. each garlic powder and minced onion
½ cup chopped nuts
salt & pepper to taste

Blend together cheeses.  Add herbs and seasonings (except paprika).  Form into two rolls and sprinkle with paprika and nuts to give a bark effects.  Chill.  Slice thin and serve on crackers. 

May your Holiday Celebrations be joyous and merry!
Stop back tomorrow for the Herb of the Week, horseradish the 2011 herb of the year.

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