Traditionally, the winter solstice was celebrated by lighting a large, slow-burning log in the fireplace. When this "pagan" festival was replaced by Christmas, the tradition remained and the log became a Yule log.
Over time, large fireplaces became less commonplace. The large log was then replaced by a smaller version that, surrounded by candles, was used to decorate the table. The spirit of Christmas then inspired pastry chefs to take a simple Swiss roll and transform it into a delicious Christmas dessert.