No need to put away favorite holiday traditions just yet! I have more to say about the Yule Log tradition. In a previous post, “The Christmas Yule Log (part one)” I explained the origin (see December 23).

Since most homes now have central heat and gas fireplaces, the Yule log custom has been replaced by a log-shaped cake called Bûche de Noël. In my new book Sara’s Surprise, a Bûche de Noël cake was Sara’s special Yule Log wedding cake.

The name Bûche de Noël originally referred to the Yule Log itself, but was transferred to the dessert after the custom had fallen out of use during the first half of the 20th century. By 1945, Bûche de Noël referred to the cake.

A Yule Log cake (or Bûche de Noël) is a traditional dessert served at Christmas, especially in the United Kingdom, Catalonia, France, Switzerland, Belgium, Canada, Lebanon, and other French colonies. It’s resembles an actual Yule Log.

The original Yule Log recipe developed during the 19th century. It is traditionally yellow sponge cake baked in a large, shallow Swiss roll pan, iced with chocolate buttercream frosting and rolled to form a cylinder, then iced again on the outside. Often the icing is flavored with liquors or espresso.

Yule logs are often served with one end cut off and set atop the cake, or protruding from its side to resemble a chopped-off branch. Dragging a fork through the icing gives it a bark-like texture, and powdered sugar is sprinkled to resemble snow. It can be decorated with actual tree branches, berries and ivy, or these can be made from marzipan.

Consider making a Yule Log decoration a tradition.

To make a Yule Log to adorn your table, you’ll need the following (real or bought at a craft store):

  • A log about 14 – 18 inches long
  • Pine cones, dried berries, such as cranberries
  • Cuttings of mistletoe, holly, pine needles, and ivy
  • Feathers, cinnamon sticks
  • Festive ribbon (use paper or cloth ribbon, not the synthetic or wire-lined type)
  • A hot glue gun

Wrap the log loosely with the ribbon, leaving enough space that you can insert your branches, cuttings and feathers under the ribbon. You might even want to place a feather on your Yule Log to represent each member of the family. Once branches and cuttings are in place, glue the pinecones, cinnamon sticks and berries.

Use it as a centerpiece for your holiday table, surrounded by candles and holiday greenery. You may ask each family member to write down a wish for the upcoming year and insert notes into the ribbons. Then you can talk about your hopes for abundance, good health, and happiness in the next twelve months.

Susan G. Mathis is vice president of Christian Authors Network and a multi-published author of stories set in the beautiful Thousand Islands, her childhood stomping ground in upstate NY. Katelyn’s Choice, the first in The Thousand Islands Gilded Age series, is available now, and book two, Devyn’s Dilemma, releases in April, 2020. The Fabric of Hope: An Irish Family Legacy, Christmas Charity, and Sara’s Surprise are available now. Visit www.SusanGMathis.com for more. Susan is also author of two premarital books with her husband, Dale; two children’s picture books; stories in a dozen compilations; and hundreds of published articles. She lives in Colorado Springs, enjoys traveling globally with her husband, Dale, and relishes each time she gets to see or Skype with her four granddaughters.

Website: www.SusanGMathis.com

Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/SusanGMathis

Twitter: https://twitter.com/@SusanGMathis

Instagram: https://www.instagram.com/susangmathis

Pinterest: https://www.pinterest.com/susangmathisaut

Goodreads: https://www.goodreads.com/author/show/6044608.Susan_G_Mathis

 

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In Sara’s Surprise, a Bûche de Noël cake became a special Yule Log wedding cake. For Sara, it was the perfect cake for her Christmas wedding. But where did the Yule Log tradition come from?

The custom of the Yule Log goes back to before medieval times. It was originally based on the Nordic tradition of Yule, a Winter Solstice festival. Burning the Yule Log was one of the most widespread Christmas traditions in early modern Europe, with the first recording of its appearance dating to 1184. For the Christian feast of Christmas, the Yule Log symbolizes the battle between good and evil. “As the fire grows brighter and burns hotter, and as the log turned into ashes, it symbolized Christ’s final and ultimate triumph over sin.”

The traditional Yule Log was originally an entire tree carefully chosen and brought into the house with great ceremony. The largest end of the log would be placed into the fire hearth while the rest of the tree stuck out into the room. The log would be lit from the remains of the previous year’s log that was carefully stored away. Then, the Yule Log was slowly burned throughout the Twelve Days of Christmas.

As Christianity spread through Europe, the Yule Log tradition became part of Christmas Eve festivities. The father or master of the house would sprinkle the log with libations of mead, oil, or salt. Once the log was burned in the hearth, the ashes were scattered about the house to protect the family within from evil spirits. On Christmas morning something green, a leaf or the like, was brought into the house before anything was taken out. A piece of the Yule Log was then saved to light the next year’s log.

In Provence, France, the whole family helps to cut the log down and a little bit is burnt each night. In the Netherlands, the leftover log is stored under a bed. In some eastern European countries, the log was cut down on Christmas Eve morning and lit that evening.

The custom of the Yule Log spread all over Europe and different kinds of wood are used in different countries. In England, oak is traditional; in Scotland, birch; in France, cherry wood is sprinkled with wine before it’s burned so it smells nice.

In Devon and Somerset in the UK, some people use ash twigs instead of a log. This comes from a local legend that Joseph, Mary, and Jesus were cold when the shepherds found them on Christmas Night. So the shepherds collected twigs to burn and keep them warm. In Ireland they use a large candle instead of a log that’s lit on New Year’s Eve and Twelfth Night.

In France, the Yule Log is bûche de noel where a custom required that peasants to bring a log to their lord. In Burgundy, gifts were hidden under the log. In Brittany and in Provence prayers were offered as the log was lit, a custom still widely observed called cacho fio (blessing of the log). The eldest male parades the log around the house three times. Then it’s blessed with wine and lit with the ashes of the previous year’s log.

Susan G. Mathis is vice president of Christian Authors Network and a multi-published author of stories set in the beautiful Thousand Islands, her childhood stomping ground in upstate NY. Katelyn’s Choice, the first in The Thousand Islands Gilded Age series, is available now, and book two, Devyn’s Dilemma, releases in April, 2020. Learn more about The Fabric of Hope: An Irish Family Legacy, Christmas Charity, and Sara’s Surprise at www.SusanGMathis.com. Susan is also author of two premarital books with her husband, Dale; two children’s picture books; stories in a dozen compilations; and hundreds of articles. Susan lives in Colorado Springs and enjoys traveling globally and Skyping with her four granddaughters.

Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/SusanGMathis

Twitter: https://twitter.com/@SusanGMathis

Instagram: https://www.instagram.com/susangmathis

Pinterest: https://www.pinterest.com/susangmathisaut

Goodreads: https://www.goodreads.com/author/show/6044608.Susan_G_Mathis

 

 

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I hate conflict. I hate getting into disagreements with my husband. I don’t like having a spat with a friend. As a parent, I hated the constant conflict resolution that was needed when my two kids didn’t get along.

As a teacher, I sure didn’t enjoy being the one who had to break up the many tiffs between pubescent girls. And as a Grandma? Well, let’s just say that conflict’s not in the grandma cards.

So when I began writing fiction, I knew that conflict is a main ingredient to a good story. To write good, compelling fiction, I had to have compelling conflict that would hold the reader’s attention. But how was I going to address the very thing that tempted me to run? I had to settle that question—and quick!

Although conflict is often present in almost every day of our lives, we may overlook or ignore it. When confronted with conflict, I tend to self-talk, fret, stew, worry, and struggle with sleepless nights. But those ways of dealing with conflict won’t make a good story.

Conflict is uncomfortable, and most conflict just plain hurts. But that’s what keeps readers reading. Like you and me, readers want to know how others deal with conflict, how characters try and fail and try again and finally succeed.

Because it’s hard for me to invent conflict when I want to avoid it, I had to be aware of this weakness. So when doing rewrites and editing, I often have to add an element of conflict or deepen it.

In Sara’s Surprise, there’s a lot of conflict going on—conflict I drew on from personal experience.

Have you ever been harassed by an employer? I have, and it’s pretty traumatizing. In this “Me Too” movement, lots of women are speaking up about their trials and tribulations in the workplace, so I decided to explore the topic.

In Sara’s Surprise, Sara struggles to work as a pastry chef, navigating abuse and harassment by her volatile French boss, as was all-too common in 1873. Women had no recourse and often feared they’d be blamed and dismissed from their jobs, so they kept silent. Back then, women were often devalued and unappreciated, under-paid and treated poorly. And men took advantage of the cultural norms of the day.

As a single mom in the early 1990s, I was treated poorly, too. And I regret that I was afraid to speak up and expose the nasty man who threatened, teased, and tormented me. As a leader in the organization, that should never have occurred, but it did. Thankfully, today’s climate is more open to reporting such abuse.

Sara’s Surprise explores this problem from several angles. But in the midst of Sara’s trials, she falls in love and learns a lot about the art of baking French pastries. And the lovely Christmas surprise will delight you this holiday season. I hope you’ll pick up a copy and enjoy the story.

Susan G. Mathis is a multi-published author of stories set in the beautiful Thousand Islands, her childhood stomping ground in upstate NY. Katelyn’s Choice, the first in The Thousand Islands Gilded Age series, is available now, and book two, Devyn’s Dilemma, releases in April, 2020. The Fabric of Hope: An Irish Family LegacyChristmas Charity, and Sara’s Surprise are available now. Visit www.SusanGMathis.com for more.

 

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Sara’s Surprise

by Susan G Mathis

Genre: historical romance

Publisher: smWordWorks

ISBN-13: 978-1087235714

Released: October 20, 2019

About the book: 

Sara O’Neill, works as an assistant pastry chef at the magnificent Thousand Islands Crossmon Hotel where she meets precocious, lovable, seven-year-old Madison and her charming father and hotel manager, Sean Graham. But Jacque LaFleur, the pastry chef Sara works under, makes her dream job a nightmare.

Sean Graham has trouble keeping his mind off Sara and Madison out of mischief. Though he finds Sara captivating, he despises LaFleur and misreads Sara’s desire to learn from the pastry chef as affection. Can Sean learn to trust Sara and can she trust herself to be an instant mother?

 

Susan G Mathis

Susan G Mathis

About the author: 

Susan G Mathis is a multi-published author of stories set in the beautiful Thousand Islands, her childhood stomping ground in upstate NY. Katelyn’s Choice, the first in The Thousand Islands Gilded Age series, is available now, and book two, Devyn’s Dilemma, releases in April, 2020. The Fabric of Hope: An Irish Family LegacyChristmas Charity, and Sara’s Surprise are available now. Visit https://www.susangmathis.com/fiction-books for more.

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Words matter. Proverbs 15:4 says that words can heal, but they can also break a person’s spirit. Who hasn’t experienced both of these? I sure have! And in my latest novel, Katelyn’s Choice, my protagonist, Katelyn, does too.

Thankfully, Katelyn has some faithful mentors who speak into her life and nudge her to change. Do you? Do you have those who are free to challenge your words, encourage you to speak truth and life, and nudge you to change when you need to? If you don’t, I’d like to encourage you to find that friend who is closer than a brother, one who can help you to tame your tongue and bring God glory through your words.

So many of us struggle with gossip, frivolous chatter, and unwholesome talk, especially with the world of social media screaming at us. James 3:5 says that the tongue is just “a small part of the body but it makes great boasts.” Then he compares it to a spark that creates a forest fire. Proverbs 18:21 says the tongue has “the power of life and death.”

With this in mind, my novel, Katelyn’s Choice, explores this principle. Here’s a little about the story:

Katelyn Kavanagh’s mother dreamed her daughter would one day escape the oppressive environment of their Upstate New York farm for service in the enchanting Thousand Islands, home to Gilded Age millionaires. But when her wish comes true, Katelyn finds herself in the service of none other than the famous George Pullman, and the transition proves anything but easy.

Thomas O’Neill, brother of her best friend, is all grown up and also working on Pullman Island. Despite Thomas’ efforts to help the irresistible Katelyn adjust to the intricacies of her new world, she just can’t seem to tame her gossiping tongue—even when the information she’s privy to could endanger her job, the 1872 re-election of Pullman guest President Ulysses S. Grant, and the love of the man of her dreams.

And boy, did Katelyn get herself into some terrible predicaments because of her prattling tongue.

In and of ourselves, we are utterly unable to tame our tongue.

Only the Lord can help us, but will Katelyn—will you—turn to Him for help? I know I need to regularly, and I suspect I’m not alone.

Susan G Mathis

Susan G Mathis

Katelyn's Choice

Katelyn’s Choice

Susan G Mathis is vice president of Christian Authors Network and a multi-published author of stories set in the beautiful Thousand Islands, her childhood stomping ground in Upstate New York. Katelyn’s Choice,The Fabric of Hope: An Irish Family Legacy, and Christmas Charity will transport you to a time and place few have visited. Susan makes her home in Colorado Springs, enjoys traveling globally with her husband, Dale, and relishes time with her four adorable granddaughters. Find out more at www.SusanGMathis.com.

 

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