Santa Claus may have all the ho’s, but it is the stoic oaks that draw the sapiosexuals to wrap an arm about their branch and light up their festive log.
Grand and stately or ambling and scruffy, oaks have a little something for anyone. And this cold and dreary time of year, we have a special something for your hearth too. The finest log to build upon a fiery symbol of rebellion against the longest nights.
And let’s not forget protection. Oaks are always packing a little protection to your home.
But let’s not get ahead of ourselves. I am sure you have heard a most casual reference hither and thither about the winter’s Yule Log. Named of the winter's solstice of Yule, the day that is the shortest before the longest of the year’s nights.
Against that cold and most dreary of nights, the peoples of old in a Europe past would ignite a ceremonial log of our dense oaken wood, serving in part to protect the home against dangers of fire and lightning. Our oak’s wood was thought in many areas to protect a home from lightning strikes during thunderstorms and accidental fires, as a form of “sympathetic magic”, since the charring of a special log is supposed to prevent the burning of the connected home. Since these were times before any fire-brigade was effectively established, a house fire was a severe threat and any special warding against it would be highly desired. Trust me, oaks are very familiar with fires and see how destructive they can be to our lesser (more flammable) brethren.
The Yule Log’s protective trait may be in part from the oak tree being strongly associated with the Aryan’s god of thunder and lightning. Burning wood from his tree in one’s hearth would dispel dangerous lightning away from the home, following a few other steps, varying by the region of the careful believer.
The traditional rite of the Yule log, used in home-protection rituals up to the mid-19th century in some parts of Europe, was typically made of dense oak. My wood may be dense, but my mind is sharp. We are famous, especially among the Celtic region, for our wisdom.
In fun-fact: the word “Druid” may have come from the Welsh word for oak “dar”, to mean “oak-knower”.
In the British Isles, us oak are considered King of the Trees, not to brag. But hey, ‘tis good to be king. Some peoples even considered oaks the Tree of Life, with deep penetrating roots, tapping into the very underworld itself and towering branches tickling the heavens above. Humans have gathered around our groves since their ancestors migrated from Africa, across the young-ish globe. The very kings of the pantheons of several ancient religions were linked to us- the gods of thunder and storm- Thor, Jumala Jupiter, Zeus and more. And that is why our oaky goodness, once aflame, protects a home from those fires of the heavens.
Although perhaps eaten upon the Yule Log via cake roll form can also help burn more calories too? Let us home. Even a grandiose oak wouldn’t mind a slice of fluffy and mousse-filled cake once in a while.
Like most myths and legends and ancient spiritual beliefs, there’s a bit of fact underneath the glamorous mythos. Our wise and ancient trees are actually more likely to be hit by lightning strikes than many other arboreal kin. We actually have both a high water load and less electrical resistance within our sturdy bodies, and are very often the tallest living things in our landscape, like open oak-savannas and slightly barren rocky hillsides.
What can I say? The thunder rumbles our bellies and it’s bolts of static-on-steroids are drawn to our outstretched arms. Some have said we even “court the lightning flash”. But I don’t kiss and tell. Though mistletoe also likes me.
Let us draw the heavenly flames safely to our durable selves and away from your homes. Light up a dense and long-burning Yule Log of oak, sustainably sourced from large healthy populations please. Or roll up a batch of sponge cake and toast to the wisdom of your local delectable oaks. You could learn a lot just by sticking around under our canopy a while and watching the life unfold that is even entwined with our many gifts.
May your winters be brighter with each day, and your thoughts wiser with each experience.
And your cake fluffier than the rich leaf litter that lays upon my feet tonight.