The immortal evergreen has become the symbol of the holidays because of its endurance against the bitter cold. Contrary to popular belief, they’re not the only flora that people put on a pedestal this time of year. In fact, there are plants all over the world that hold a special place in people’s heart because it reminds them of the one-time of the year, where everything is right in the world.
The first is a local favourite and a source of comfort for most people in the UK: the yule log. It is not an actual plant, as people do not really have “yule logs” as often as they once did. It did come from a plant, and Father Christmas is carrying a yule log, so that should count.
Longacres Garden Centre explained that the practise of the Yule log first began in Great Britain during the 1720s. Many historians believe that the practise was imported from German paganism, though; there have been plenty who dispute that claim. The purpose of the Yule log during those early years was to serve as an amulet for prosperity, and a protection against evil.
Even the Spanish have their own version of the Yule log called Tio de Nadal. The logs are mostly found in the Catalan region during Christmas and according to legend drop gifts or children while they pray in another room. This is probably one of the most magical parts of the season for young Catalans.
Logs dropping presents for Christmas might be old news for people on this side of the Atlantic, but it is a guarantee that no one has ever heard of a saint radish before. The people of Oaxaca, Mexico start celebrating Christmas with the Night of the Radishes.
This is a tradition wherein farmers take the biggest radishes they can find and carve them into the images of saints, buildings, and pop icons. An underground root formed into the image of Elvis Presley may not be the first image that comes to mind during Christmas, but there are few things that help celebrate the yuletide season uniquely either.