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YULE-LOG IN CHRISTIAN TRADITIONARY CULTURE
; Filozofski fakultet Sveučilišta u Splitu
Christmas Eve, in folklore terms, is the richest day in
Christian traditionary culture, the Yule log being in the focus of
attention. There are two kinds of Yule logs in Croatian traditionary
culture: the first consisting of leafy oak-tree branches or of up to
two metres long hazel branches with as many catkins as possible.
These Yule logs used to be put above the door, under the eves,
or on the roof of the house, and have an aesthetic character. The
other kind consists of three pieces of wood, the longest being one
or two metres long and thirty to fifty centimetres thick, which once
used to be ritually brought into homes and burnt on hearths. The
rite of bringing them in was accompanied by: traditional Catholic
greeting, congratulations, strewing with grain (sometimes with
straw), pouring with wine, prayers – especially recommendations.
In some areas processions were made related to Yule logs.
In Christian traditionary culture Yule logs are anthropomorphised
and are associated with the cult of the dead. The Yule
log fire is mystified and predictions were made by the strength of
the Yule log fire on the hearth and Christmas Eve bonfires. It was
believed that this fire gives strength to the coming year. People
used to attribute apotropeic characteristics to Yule log remains,
while grain strewing is of panspermic character.
Since the end of the nineteenth century Yule logs have been
modified, first in Split, and then in other areas as well. At the
beginning of the third millennium the rite of Yule log burning with
the Croats is being revived in some places, and in many places
Yule logs are split logs with carved-in crosses, which are put on
fire in a stove.
The rites and customs related to Yule logs are very similar
with Croatian Catholics and Serb Orthodox.
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