The Yule log came from Scandinavian mythology.
The winter months were long and hard, so a huge
tree was found, cut down, hauled into the house,
and lit afire in honor of Thor, the Viking god
of war. It was believed that Thor would bless
them with prosperity during the following year
in reward for this ceremony held during Yule,
which is the Anglo-Saxon word for the months of
December and January. The Anglo-Saxons called
December the former Yule and January
the after Yule. When most of the Scandinavians
converted to Christianity, the burning of the
Yule log became a part of the Christmas celebration,
and the word Yule became synonymous with Christmas.
The burning of the Yule log is still practiced
today, though it is more prominent in European
celebrations and has lost its Scandinavian meaning
except with the handful of neopagans who seek
to revive the old ways.
Mistletoe was sacred to the ancient druids and
a symbol of eternal life the same way as the Christmas
tree. The Romans valued it as a symbol of peace
and this lead eventually to its acceptance among
Christmas props. Kissing under the mistletoe was
a Roman custom, too.
More interesting links:
The 3 stages of man: He
believes in Santa Claus. He
doesn't believe in Santa Claus.
He is Santa Claus!