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a pile of dragons curled up by a fire Image: DreamWorks

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Judging the tie-in Yule Log videos that most impact franchise canon

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’s an official Frozen Yule Log, 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. Our analysis of franchise-specific Yule Log videos is here to give everyone the answer they desperately need.

[Ed. note: this rundown doesn’t include Yule Log videos from commercial sources, like Olive Garden or Jimmy Dean. While those videos are just as indicative of the capitalistic holiday season as the film-and-TV-themed Yule Logs, most restaurants don’t have an established story canon to draw from. This list also doesn’t include the Yule Logs devoted to internet staples like late, lamented internet-famous cat Lil Bub, or to nebulous brand tie-ins like “Hallmark” or “Disney Parks,” since they aren’t predicated on mythological narrative. (Though you should watch the Lil Bub Yule Log series, which includes a super-cheaty summertime beach video.)]


a roaring hearth Image: Walt Disney Pictures

Arendelle Castle Yule Log (Disney Plus)

How long is it? Slightly over three hours, 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. Enjoy.

Does it 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.

BB-8 and the Yule Log

How long is it? Barely over an hour.

Christmas cheer levels? Aside from the crackling fire, nothing about this Yule Log says “Yule.” BB-8 is a cheerful being, though, so this might make you feel generically upbeat.

Does it fit with canon? This is the closest thing to an official Star Wars Yule Log we’ll probably get, but BB-8 seems like too small of an element to ground this video in canon. Star Wars purists who want a more canonical experience will probably be better off with the unofficial Yule Log of Darth Vader’s burning body on YouTube. That lasts for five hours and very much fits in with canon. There’s also an unofficial Star Wars Yule Log that looks like it belongs on a ship. Thanks, internet creators looking for some clicks.

a magical trashfire Image: Netflix

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.”

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.

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.

Guardians’ Spaceship Fireside Video in 4K

(and the close up version)

How long is it? A bit over an hour.

Christmas cheer levels? The most Christmas-y part of this video is the occasional music, a playlist of Christmas-song rock remixes that punctuate the otherwise monotonous engine hum. But other than that, the spaceship is bereft of any holiday joy.

When the music plays, you can see Baby Groot dance. If it’s Christmas, then Baby Groot is sort of a Christmas tree, technically. But there is no weather in space, so there isn’t even a seasonal overtone to this one. The Guardians mostly aren’t from Earth, and probably don’t celebrate Christmas. Technically, the fire isn’t even a fire, so the title itself is built on a foundation of lies.

Does it fit with canon? Probably not. Where is this in the ship? Why is it happening? It’s not even space-winter!

Christmas / Holiday Yule Log Fireplace 4K | Wizarding World

How long is it? An hour exactly.

Christmas cheer levels? So much cheer that it verges on gaudy — and yet the magic of Christmas in the Harry Potter world is absent, as the scene is full of Muggle merchandise, complete with purchase links. This feels like the empty husk of the magic of Harry Potter. Instead of making use of the movie or book imagery, it solely uses merch.

Does it fit with canon? Who knows? Where is this supposed to be taking place?! What section of Hogwarts is cheerily decorated with Muggle brands from across all four houses? It’s absolutely outrageous that this video is pretending to be canonical, when it’s a blatant capitalistic cash grab masquerading as Wizarding World Magic. No way would the witches and wizards of Hogwarts shill out for some PotteryBarn Teen products when they have magical equivalents.

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.

Iron Man’s Manhattan Apartment Fireside Video in 4K

How long is it? A bit over an hour.

Christmas cheer levels? Honestly, it’s kinda depressing. The apartment has sleek, minimalist décor, but there’s nothing holiday-like whatsoever, save for the fireplace. There are some vague electronic-sounding noises, and the occasional whir of a helicopter, but no Christmas music. There’s also a sad, empty pizza box on the side in the close-up version. Whatever Tony Stark has planned for Christmas seems like a mega-downer.

Does it fit with canon? Wouldn’t Tony Stark’s apartment be bigger?

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?

Ms. Marvel’s New Jersey Home Fireside Video in 4K

(Close-up version)

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!

MST3K Yule Log!

How long is it? An hour plus a few seconds.

Christmas cheer levels? It’s literally just a burning log, with nothing festive about it — except for the singing by the Mystery Science Theater 3000 cast.

Does it fit with canon? Yes. No further questions, your honor.

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.

Overwatch Yule Log (2018)

How long is it? Nearly eight and a half hours! Perfect for a whole day of festive activities! Just chuck it on in the background during present-wrapping, tree-decorating, and cookie-baking!

Christmas cheer levels? The scene is festively decorated, yes, but also has a noticeable loot box, which gets opened a few times, revealing some toys. It’s more corporate than the other Yule Logs, but what is Christmas nowadays but a corporate celebration of materialism? At least it’s pretty open about what it is, and doesn’t try to masquerade as something in-universe.

Does it fit with canon? No. It isn’t even animated. It just has Overwatch lead designer Jeff Kaplan and some Overwatch VAs occasionally come to take a seat. While it’s lovely to stare at Matthew Mercer, McCree’s voice actor, for an hour and a half, that isn’t exactly adding dimension to the world of Overwatch.

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.

Thor’s Asgard Home Fireside Video in 4K

(Close up version)

How long is it? About an hour.

Christmas cheer levels? Once again, nothing really about this screams Christmas. Not even the music. There is no music. It sounds vaguely like a group of primordial monsters screaming into the abyss of space. Seriously, it’s kinda terrifying. If you want a dose of eldritch horror this Christmas, play the Thor fireside video. Every so often, there’s an eerie green light.

Does it fit with canon? Sure! Maybe Thor has a room in Asgard full of Celtic symbolism and horror-movie noises, and that’s where he keeps his large hearth and vaguely festive wolf-skin rug. It isn’t as directly tied into canon as some of the videos on this list, but it’s not so glaringly wrong.

“Toy Story inspired” D23 Days of Christmas Yule Log

How long is it? One second shy of an hour, once again a good present-opening background.

Christmas cheer levels? Stacks of presents rest ’neath a well-decorated tree. Since it’s “Toy Story inspired,” the camera rests at toy level, adding a unique perspective. Really puts the emphasis on the presents, which may heighten anticipation, or make for impatient children.

Does it fit with canon? The Toy Story characters make appearances, but don’t really do anything besides run onscreen and wave. It’s a bit of a canonical mess in that aspect. For instance, Toy Story 3 villain Lotso, who we last saw strapped to a garbage truck, makes an appearance at 10:16. He cheerily waves, as if he were not the nefarious, murderous antagonist of a whole movie. Might raise some questions for young children who are wondering why he’s so cheerful when the rest of the toys are scurrying for their lives — has Lotso trapped them in this Christmas hellscape?!

Unikitty | One Hour of Relaxing Yule Log

How long is it? Around an hour.

Christmas cheer levels? The absolutely adorable Unikitty curls up by a fire. A modest number of presents complement the realistically tasteful décor. Some relaxing piano music — it’s not specifically Christmas carols, but it still sounds like wintertime — plays in the background, but you can still hear the log crackling. Overall, cheerful in a quirky way.

Does it fit with canon? There is nothing to suggest that Unikitty would not curl up by a fire and snore moons, stars, and the letter “Z.” We love this for her.

VENOM: OFFICIAL YULE LOG

How long is it? 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.)

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.

Does it fit with canon? Absolutely not, but it rules.