Tuesday, November 25, 2008

Advent Activity Calendar - December 3


Scripture Reading:

Isaiah 11:1-3a

"A shoot will come up from the stump of Jesse; from his roots a Branch will bear fruit. The Spirit of the LORD will rest on him-- the Spirit of wisdom and of understanding, the Spirit of counsel and of power, the Spirit of knowledge and of the fear of the LORD-- and he will delight in the fear of the LORD."

Country in Focus: Scotland

Tradition: Yule Log

Activity: Make a Yule Log cake.

Materials: jelly roll pan, wax paper, tea towel, chocolate cake mix, whipped cream, confectioner's sugar, chocolate frosting, chocolate sprinkles, silk holly leaves, candles


1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees.
2. Prepare cake mix according to directions.
3. Grease 15X1o inch jelly roll pan. Line with wax paper. Grease paper.
4. Spread cake batter into prepared pan. Smooth top of batter and bake 12 minutes. Top of cake should be set and spring back when ready.
5. Dust a clean (like I needed to tell you it should be clean?) tea cloth with confectioner's sugar. Turn cake out onto the cloth. Roll up cake, jelly roll style. Transfer, seam side down, to a wire rack to cool for 30 minutes.
6. Unroll the cake and remove the cloth.
7. Spread whipped cream over the cake to within 1 inch of edges.
8. Re-roll the cake and place seam side down on a serving platter.
9. Frost with the chocolate frosting including edges of "log". Run fork along top to give it a bark look.
10. Sprinkle with chocolate sprinkles. Add garnishments of your choice such as silk holly leaves or candy holly pieces.
11. Put in the candles which will make the log "burn".

UPDATED!!! Here is a picture of our Yule Log cake.

The good thing about chocolate frosting is that it hides a multitude of problems including cracked cake. So even if you are rolling your cake and it is not working out, don't give up. It will still taste great. Just use your chocolate frosting to hide all!


During the 16th Century, Scotland banned Christmas, which was seen as a Roman Catholic holiday. As an Anglican country, they found the practice unacceptable, and there were legal ramifications for those caught celebrating. This ban was not lifted until the 1950s! The Scottish being a stubborn lot, often continued their family celebrations quietly, if you can call dancing around the fire on Christmas Eve in a kilt quietly.

One secret custom that they continued was the Yule log. The Yule log was another Germanic pagan tradition modified into a Christmas celebration. Originally used to observe the winter solstice and remember their ancestors, it was adapted into British folklore. Father Christmas was often depicted as carrying a yule log on Christmas cards.

There are many stories about the yule log tradition. It was the darkest time of year, so burning a large log would give off both a great light and much warmth. In the 4th Century AD, Pope Julius I decided to adapt it into a Christian tradition. The log was brought into the home and placed in the hearth. It was sprinkled with oil and fragrances and prayers were said over it. Then personal faults and mistakes were burned with the log so that everyone could start with a clean slate for the new year.

Scottish anthropologist, Sir James Frazer discussed how the Yule log tradition was adapted in his controversial book The Golden Bough: A Study of Magic and Religion. Although he received a great deal of criticism at the time, it was accurate in its portrayal of how many of our Christmas traditions were once part of the winter pagan festival celebrating the winter solstice. Depending on your child's age and their ability to understand, you may want to discuss this with them. Once again, I reiterate that none of these things take away from God's truth. The Church's desire to use things that people already understood to teach them about Christ was not wrong, even if at times as humans they were misguided.

It's our desire to reach people where they are so that we can all grow. At least hopefully that is still our desire today!

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