The Winter Solstice - or Yule, a pagan tradition, is a celebration of the shortest day and longest night of the year in the Northern Hemisphere, when the North Pole is at its furthest point away from the sun. Yule logs are traditionally lit on the first day of the Solstice and are burned throughout the Solstice night for 12 hours as a symbol of hope and belief that the sun will return. Ashes from the Yule log are said to have been retained in the fire place after the solstice to guard the home against fire or lightning, or occasionally, the ashes were scattered over fields in the hope this would bring good luck for the following year's harvest.