Rich Holiday Traditions “Make the Yuletide Gay”

The holiday season is rich in tradition. So many family Christmas traditions are related to food! We look forward to our annual meals, whether its oyster stew on Christmas Eve or beef tenderloin with Béarnaise sauce with a side of scalloped oysters on Christmas Day.

In response to a post by Latham Hi-Tech Seeds on Facebook, customers and friends shared with us some of their family’s favorite holiday foods including: potato soup, squash casserole, cheesy creamed corn and spaghetti with homemade sauce. We definitely connote certain foods with special occasions. The taste and smell of certain foods can bring back beautiful memories and help us remember special people.

Dried fruits and nuts reminds me of my late grandma baking stollen on a few occasions while visiting me and my parents. My husband associates the smell of popcorn with his grandmother. Each year Evelyn Latham, wife of company founder Willard Latham, was known for making Christmas special for her 12 grandchildren with homemade popcorn balls and ice cream dessert.

As a family-owned company, Latham Hi-Tech Seeds’ is rooted in tradition. Right after Thanksgiving we put up the company tree in the lobby of our office, and each employee hangs the ornament with his/her name on it. We also enjoy a holiday potluck, and this potluck is like no other! Of course, we have to find new ways to celebrate Christmas in 2020 due to COVID-19, but we hope the potluck will be able to pick back up next year!

Each year there is such an abundance of food that we set up separate “buffet” tables for desserts, salads and hot dishes including pork loin, meatballs and cheeseburger soup. We were joking (at least I think we were) that it needs to become a two-day affair just so we have a chance to sample it all!

treecupcakesNo matter how full we are, we still find room for sweets. Two of the most popular desserts we’ve had are mini Christmas Tree Cakes, which is the perfect size when you just want a little something sweet, and a beautifully decorated Yule Log.

The level of detail put into the frosting “bark” was impressive, and it certainly sparked an interesting dinnertime conversation. Some of our younger team members hadn’t heard of the word, “Yule.” Others weren’t familiar with the term “yule log.” Because I was a little curious about the history of the yule log, I did a little research and decided to share my findings on today’s blog.

“Yule” has several suggested origins, dating back to pagan religious festivals. The Old English word was geõla. The Old Norse word jõl. The Anglo-Saxon word for the Winter Solstice festival was lul, meaning “wheel” since old almanacs represented the Yule with a wheel. An important “turning point” in each year is Winter Solstice, which is the shortest day of the year and also the beginning of more daylight hours.

The Yule Log was originally an entire tree that was carefully chosen and brought into the house with great ceremony. The largest end of the log was placed into the hearth, while the rest of the tree stuck out into the room and was slowly fed into the fire throughout the Twelve Days of Christmas.

The Yule log tradition had been adapted throughout the years and varies by region. In parts of France, the whole family helps cut the log and a little bit is burned each night. If any of the log is left after Twelfth Night, it is kept safe until the next year. In some parts of Holland, the “leftover” log had to be stored under a bed until the following Winter Solstice. In some eastern European countries, the tree was cut down Christmas Eve morning and lit that evening. In the United Kingdom, the log was dried out and the bark was removed before it was brought into the house for burning.

YuleLogFactNow that many homes have central heat, few people have wood-burning fireplaces. I’m guessing the Yule log is one holiday tradition that isn’t widely practiced anymore. After reading about its history, however, I’m inclined to adapt a new tradition for our family. We have a real Christmas tree, which could be chopped up in January and then enjoyed throughout the summer as a campfire. I learned that sprinkling different chemicals on a log will create different colored flames:

Potassium NitrateViolet
Barium NitrateApple Green
BoraxVivid Green
Copper SulphateBlue
Table SaltBright Yellow

In honor of the Yule Log tradition, we are sharing a treasured recipe for the festive sponge cake.

Yule Log


Chocolate Sponge Roll Ingredients:

  • 3/4 cup Cake Flour
  • 1/2 tsp. Baking Powder
  • 1/2 tsp. Salt
  • 5 eggs (room temp.)
  • 3/4 cup Sugar
  •  2 Tbsp Sugar
  • 2 squares Unsweetened Chocolate
  • 1/4 cup cold water
  • 1/2 tsp. Baking Soda
  • Powdered Sugar

Chocolate Sponge Roll Directions:

  1. Preheat oven to 350°.
  2. Sift Flour with baking powder & salt.
  3. Beat eggs in large bowl with mixer at high speed.
  4. Add 3/4 cup sugar gradually & beat till it becomes fluffy, thick & light colored.
  5. Fold in flour mixture gradually.
  6. Melt chocolate
  7. Add cold water, 2 Tbsp Sugar + Baking Soda, stir till thick and smooth.
  8. Blend quickly into batter.
  9. Grease bottom and sides of a 10"x15" jelly roll pan.
  10. Line bottom with waxed paper then grease waxed paper.
  11. Pour batter into pan.
  12. Bake at 350° for 18-20 minutes.
  13. Turn onto powdered sugared sprinkled cloth.
  14. Trim off crisp edges and roll up cloth in cake, from short end.
  15. Cool & remove cloth.


Chocolate Glaze Ingredients:

  • 1 square Unsweetened Chocolate
  • 1 Tbsp. butter
  • 3/4 cup Powdered Sugar
  • dash of Salt
  • 2 Tbsp. (about) hot milk (closer to 1 Tbsp)

Chocolate Glaze Directions:

  1. Melt chocolate with butter over low hear
  2. remove from heat, add sugar & salt.
  3. Add milk (small about at a time) till mixture is of glaze consistency.
  4. Blend well.
  5. Spread over cake while warm. (Spread with spatula)

Makes 1/2 cup of glaze.


from the kitchen of Deb & Tom Lizer


  • 1 tsp Vanilla
  • 1/2 tsp Almond Extract
  • Green Food Coloring (gel works better)
  • Yellow Food Coloring (gel works better)
  • 1 - 41/2 oz container cool whip (Thawed)
  • Chocolate Sponge Roll (SEE RECIPE BELOW)
  • Chocolate Glaze (SEE RECIPE BELOW)
  • 2 Tbsp. Chopped Almonds
  • Candied Cherries (halved)

Directions to Assemble:

  1. Blend vanilla, almond extract & food colorings into cool whip.
  2. Fill Chocolate sponge roll with Cool Whip mixture.
  3. Roll up again, leaving edge of cake underneath.
  4. Spread chocolate glaze on it. (Make lines with a fork)
  5. Sprinkle with almonds.
  6. Decorate with Cherry pieces.
  7. Refrigerate till read to serve.