Christmas Chimney Superstitions and Chimney Traditions
Traditions change. What was the Yule log, that huge log which was kindled with the remnants of the previous Yule log, and was laid across the floor with the thick end in the fire, to be pushed further in as it burned over the 12 days, is now a piece of confectionary still shaped like the log, but now chocolate based. Maybe not a chimney tradition, but it is a lot tastier.
The tree is a more modern invention and is culled from the Germans. It was supposedly brought to this country by Prince Albert, and was greeted with open arms, clearly, as it is popular to this day. The type of tree is slowly changing as people like to have more than a couple of needles left on it after Christmas day. I remember in my youth, if anyone so much as sneezed near the tree, it would shed needles like a mad thing. Nowadays, the flat needle trees are preferred by all except the purists, since they hang on tightly to their needles.
The idea of bringing in evergreens like the tree, the holly, mistletoe and ivy harks back to the sympathetic magic that took strength from the symbolism of the berries and the fact that the evergreen plants like ivy represent the ‘green that never dies’.
The stockings again are said to come from Germany, and there are many versions of a noble figure placing a gift in a poor person’s stocking that had been hung up to dry. This has many echoes. If you are a fan of Terry Pratchett’s Discworld, you will know that the Hogfather celebrations originated in the story of a character who, knowing that a family was hungry, threw a packet of sausages in through an open window, stunning one of the occupants in the process.
Our Christmas Tradition
Our Christmas tradition is to dry the orange and tangerine skins in a metal tray on top of the wood burning stove. As they dry, the whole room is suffused with a delicious aroma, a bit like being immersed in a huge orange cake. Just remember not to forget and leave them on too long or they will start to scorch. The next day we use them as firelighters to get the fire going.