The yule log is associated with the winter solstice, which occurs every year about December 21.
“Solstice” comes from two Latin words which means “the sun stands still.” After appearing to move away from the earth for sic months, the sun seems to stop briefly and then begin its return.
No one is sure where the word “yule” comes from. Some say it has its origins in an old Germanic word that meant a turning well and was applied to the supposed orbit of the sun. Others say it is from an Anglo-Saxon word (“goel”) which means feast.
What is known is that the yule feast is pre-Christian, celebrating the victory of the sun god over darkness. People hauled a log from one of their largest trees and burned it to honor their gods and to bring good luck in the coming year.
Holly was part of this ritual. It was placed under the yule log to help kindle the fir. People would also toss a sprig of holly into the fire to burn up the troubles of the past year, and to keep their houses safe from fire in the New Year.