Image: Paramount Pictures
Celebrate the holidays by thinking too hard about branded chimney fires
Yule Log videos have become a holiday fad and a small, specific offshoot of streaming culture. They’re easier to assemble than an actual fire, they’re more practical for apartment-dwellers or people living in warm climates, and they don’t require any clean-up. Finding one online is a quick, easy process, and they provide some warming color and a festive tone for holiday celebrations. But since they’re also easy to make and distribute, suddenly every streaming platform has its own fireplace videos.
And so, it seems, does every entertainment franchise. There are two official Frozen Yule Logs, a handful of Marvel ones, and branded Yule Logs for Hearthstone and Minecraft, Outlander, and Shrek. Slapping a franchise name and theme on a fireplace video is all fun and games for big entertainment corporations, until you pause for a moment and consider: “Wait, does this mean this Yule Log is canon?!”
Good question. For the 2021 holiday season, we’ve updated our exhaustive look at franchise-specific Yule Log videos from across the internet and evaluated their enjoyment factor, as well as their deeper canonical implications, and handpicked the best. We have fun here.
Arendelle Castle Yule Log (Disney Plus)
Image: Walt Disney Pictures
The Frozen Yule Logs (Disney Plus): Arendelle Castle Yule Log and Arendelle Castle Yule Log: Paper Edition
How long are they? Around three hours each, perfect to play in the background during Family Game Night.
Christmas cheer levels? The Arendelle Castle Yule Log boasts presents, stockings hung by the fire with care, and a wee little Christmas tree off to the side. There are garlands and holly, all adding to a cozy holiday feeling. No holiday music or covers of “Let it Go” play, so this is solely a fireplace experience.
Tte Paper Edition features cutouts of Elsa, Anna, Kristoff, Olaf and Sven, as well as paper-rendered flames. It’s quite gorgeous, though not specifically Christmas themed.
Do they fit with canon? This is the very fireplace that Elsa, Anna, Kristoff, Olaf, and Sven play charades in front of in Frozen 2. Arendelle canonically celebrates a multitude of winter holidays, as seen in the 21-minute short “Olaf’s Frozen Adventure,” so this Yule Log setting fits right in with the world.
The Paper Edition does not really have any canonical value, but who is to say it does not exist in the Frozen world? .
A Home Fireplace: Bright Edition (Netflix)
How long is it? A tinge above an hour.
Christmas cheer levels? If you call a gritty, colorful, literal trash fire Christmas cheer, then it has it in loads.
Does it fit with canon? Yes. The graffiti on the wall and the garbage can are all elements that fit right into the grungy, street-level world of Bright, which is the “cinematic embodiment of a busted, spewing sewage pipe.”
DC Yule Log
How long is it? 10 hours.
Christmas cheer levels? The whole scene is festive and decorated, with stockings o’er the hearth, a tree in the corner, and a menorah on the table to be inclusive.
Does it fit with canon? There are stockings for Diana, Clark, Bruce, and Dick (which gets changed to Jason towards the end). A trident rests on the fireplace and in lieu of tinsel, it appears to be Wonder Woman’s lasso adorning the hearth. Is it canon? Hard to say why there would fireplace revealing a bunch of secret identities, but it is cute.
Deadpool Yule Log
How long is it? Just five minutes.
Christmas cheer levels? It is a literal paper bag on fire. But it is set upon a festively decorated doorstep and the crude drawing of Deadpool on it does have a Santa hat.
Does it fit with canon? Sure. Deadpool. Funny.
TARDIS Yule Log | Doctor Who Christmas | Christmas Night
Festive Thirteenth Doctor Yule Log
How long is it? The first is a bit over two hours, the second is almost exactly two hours.
Christmas cheer levels? The first has a Christmas fireplace in the background, with stockings, garland, and a tree. The centerpiece, though, is the Tardis snow globe, which has a little wreath on the inside. This one has some lovely orchestral music as well, original to the show. It’s not explicitly Christmas-y, but instead feels very Doctor Who in tone.
The second is a fully decorated fireplace, with stockings, a TARDIS garland, lights, and a tree. There are stringed lights above, and when the camera pans out, we see a plate of cookies. (Er, biscuits, since this is a British video.) How cute! But it’s notable that there seem to be falling leaves outside the window, not falling snow.
Does it fit with canon? The first video has some bizarre moments where Doctors step out of the snowglobe TARDIS, and there are ads for the 2017 Doctor Who Christmas special, so it clearly isn’t set within the show.
The second one, however, is more clearly in canon. The Thirteenth Doctor shows up on a few occasions to warm her hands. At one point, she departs in the TARDIS, then returns later to rekindle the fire. We don’t know where this is, or what she’s doing, but considering the Doctor’s whole schtick is being able to travel through time and space, this could work just about anywhere and any-when.
American Horror Story and What We Do in the Shadows Yule Logs
The official FX channel has a selection of what I can only describe as ironic Yule Logs. Are they festive? No. Are they absolutely hilarious? Yes. They are certainly worthy of inclusion, but perhaps not interrogated for their canonical value or cheer levels. Both are about half-an-hour long and actually seamlessly fit into preexisting scenes.
The Girl From the Sea Yule Log
How long is it? Just 10 minutes.
Christmas cheer levels? Unless you’re from Florida or somewhere else warm doesn’t necessarily spell holiday cheer.
Does it fit with canon? The scene in the video looks like it fits right in with Molly Knox Ostertag’s graphic novel. It might not be super Christmas-y, but it is super sweet and worthy of inclusion.
Hades Yule Log
How long is it? A whopping 12 hours long. You can keep this on all throughout Christmas day.
Christmas cheer levels? Not so much, considering that Hades not only takes place before modern decorative touchstones of Christmas were popularized, but also before Christianity was a thing. Still, there are pomegranate wreaths and a big ol’ satyr bag, so it’s festive in a very Underworld way!
Does it fit with canon? Yup! All the touchstones are there and one almost expects Cerberus to walk up and take a cozy snooze by the fireside.
Hearthstone Murloc Yule Log
How long is it? A hair over 53 minutes, good as a present-opening background.
Christmas cheer levels? At first, not so much, but as it goes on, and more Murlocs appear on screen, the fireplace gets more and more decorated. By the end of the video, it’s a fully festively decorated scene. Christmas music plays in the background occasionally — but sung by Murlocs.
Does it fit with canon? It takes place within the tavern where Hearthstone presumably takes place. You can hear the sound of people playing the game. The décor is themed to the world, as is the aforementioned Murloc-sung music. Overall, it’s a charming addition to the Hearthstone canon.
Marvel Comics Fireplaces
There are a handful of Marvel comics specific fireplaces, but some of them notably do not have Christmas cheer (seriously, Tony Stark’s lonely, cheerless apartment is just kinda dismal).
Captain America’s Brooklyn Apartment Fireside Video in 4K
How long is it? A few seconds over an hour.
Christmas cheer levels? Cap’s apartment is pretty bare, but some jazzy Christmas standards play in the background to set the tone. It isn’t as warm as crowd chatter, but it’s still something.
Does it fit with canon? More so than some of the other Marvel Cinematic Universe Yule Logs. The close-up version reveals a framed picture of former love interest Peggy, which is heartwarming, albeit slightly sad, since this whole fireside series seemingly takes place in the comics-verse. Even if it didn’t, this video’s from 2016 so it’s pre-Avengers: Endgame Steggy reunion.
Ms. Marvel’s New Jersey Home Fireside Video in 4K
How long is it? An hour and change.
How much Christmas cheer? Not much, but that’s fine, because Kamala Khan doesn’t celebrate Christmas. It’s a warm fireplace in the cold New Jersey winter, and a good time to enjoy some non-denominational warmth. We hear the chatter of a party going on, which in and of itself brings some holiday joy.
Does it fit with canon? There’s nothing to suggest this is canon, but also nothing to suggest it isn’t. A cute little touch on this one is Kamala’s costume draped over her couch — better hide that before someone sees!
Minecraft Holiday Yule Log
How long is it? Two hours, so right in the middle of most of these Yule Log videos. Not long enough to keep you entertained all day, but not too short that you’ll have to click “restart” too many times.
Christmas cheer levels? So much! The hearth is decorated, it is snowing outside, there are presents galore. So cozy, so quaint. It’s a perfect Christmas experience. Some nice Christmas surprises wander onto the screen every so often.
Does it fit with canon? Minecraft canon is ultimately what you make of it, so sure, this could be canon. Maybe there isn’t an actual Santa NPC, but there can be if you believe very hard, by which we mean if you download a Santa skin. Also, someone breaks into the house at one point and steals a gift. Ain’t that the Minecraft way?
Outlander | Yule Log (2014)
Outlander | The Fraser Kitchen
Outlander | Fraser’s Ridge Yule Log (2019)
How long is it? Both the 2019 and 2014 Christmas versions are about an hour. The 2019 kitchen one is about 90 minutes.
Christmas cheer levels? More subtle décor in these, befitting of the period piece. Two of them contain animals that appear in the show, which is not specifically Christmas-y, but is very cheerful. Two of them play the main theme song, which does actually sound pretty Christmas-y, in the sad sort of way that “O Holy Night” does. It then switches to general festive Celtic-sounding music.
The kitchen one is the exception, with just a roaring fireplace and minimal festive decor.
Does it fit with canon? The inclusion of the cat in the most recent video is a nice touch to tie these fireplace videos back to canon. The more recent video has wee kitten Adso, who was introduced in the latest season of Outlander. The one from five years ago has two dogs, who don’t really have any canonical ties, but they sure are cute! Overall, they stylistically fit into the show, and that’s good enough.
Seinfeld Festivus Yule Log
How long is it? A little over an hour.
Christmas cheer levels? This video is notably lacking in Christmas cheer, but that’s OK, because it is full of Festivus cheer!
Does it fit with canon? Not sure whose apartment this is, or which of the Seinfeld crew would even have such a luxurious-looking fireplace in their apartments, but sure! The only thing that really drags it out of canon is the tiny little Seinfeld-labelled book in the basket.
Shrek Yule Log
How long is it? A little under 30 minutes, so you may need to press replay a couple o’ times.
Christmas cheer levels? The hearth itself is decorated with garlands. Some jaunty tunes play in the background. You can hear chattering children and guests. What’s really missing, though, is the sound of the fire, which is lost beneath the Shrek characters occasionally wandering on screen.
Does it fit with canon? The short spin-off special Shrek the Halls established that Christmas does exist in the Shrek universe and the short that this Yule Log was originally paired with Donkey’s Christmas Shrektacular continues this trend. We see right away where we are — Shrek’s swampside haven — and where this scene fits in: Shrek lights the fire right before he and Fiona have guests over for the holidays. We are in the Shrek universe, hanging out with Shrek and his family. A perfect watch if you crave the warm familiarity of family, but only have YouTube.
How to Train Your Dragon: Snoggletog Log
How long is it? Also a bit under 30 minutes, so as with the Shrek Yule Log, you’ll need to press repeat. Or play them back-to-back!
Christmas cheer levels? The “Snoggletog Log” is just a window into fantasy Christmas in the How to Train Your Dragon world, down to the decorations and the cheerful Christmas music playing in the background. As with the Shrek video, a lot of the actual fire sounds get lost amid the background music and the characters wandering onscreen.
Does it fit with canon? Yup! Much like the Shrek one was a companion to Donkey’s Christmas Shrektacular, the Snoggletog Log is a companion to How to Train Your Dragon: Homecoming, which premiered earlier this month on NBC. The short film takes place after the events of the final How to Train Your Dragon film, exploring the aftermath of the trilogy. Hiccup and Astrid have kids, and so do Toothless and the Light Fury, and they all appear here. It fits snuggly into canon.
Sonic 2 Yule Log
How long is it? An hour!
Christmas cheer level? It starts out pretty unassuming, but as the video progresses, Sonic runs and gets more and more decor, till the whole hearth is incredibly festive. There’s a tree, stockings, gifts, a wishlist for Santa, and more.
Does it fit with canon? The main characters have their own stockings and Sonic is probably the type of fella who gets very excited for the holidays.
Venom Yule Logs
There are currently two of them: a cutesy animated one and a more realistic-looking one for Venom: Let There Be Carnage.
How long is it? The first is 10 hours, but it seems to be solely a 10-second loop of animated Venom bouncing slightly and drinking hot cocoa. (Disclaimer: we did not watch all 10 hours. Maybe he does something complicated and exciting seven hours in.)
The second is also 10 hours long, with the lights changing and flashing at intervals.
Christmas cheer levels? Animated Venom sits next to a cozy fireplace, under a portrait of Venom wearing a fancy rich-person silk jacket. Nothing about it says Christmas, but it does say massive cheer.
Meanwhile, the second one features stockings for both Venom and Eddie (Venom’s is noticeably larger), along with lights and garlands.
Does it fit with canon? The animated one does not, but the newer one could very well take place in the current Venom-verse. There is even a little sign reminding Venom not to eat Santa! There is, however, a Venom Blu-Ray in Venom’s stocking, which is a little canon-breaking