By the 16th century, some European and Scandinavian cultures had combined the Twelve Days Of Christmas with (sometimes pagan) festivals celebrating the changing of the year. These were usually associated with driving away evil spirits for the start of the new year.
§§§ : Bringing home the Yule Log was a part of the Winter Solstice, the Twelve Days of Christmas, Christmas Eve, Christmas Day, or Twelfth Night. The Yule Log is above all a reminder of the importance of fire in the depth of the cold and darkness of Midwinter.
A crowd gathers at a pastrycook and confectioner's shop window displaying a monstrous twelfth-cake that seems to be topped with figures of a king and queen. Some troublemakers have tied the clothes of two onlookers together – a clue as to the kind of mischief that caused Queen Victoria to end Twelfth-Night celebrations. Hilarious account from 1825: http://www.hymnsandcarolsofchristmas.com/Text/Hone/january_6__epiphany.htm
Victorian illustration from George Cruikshank's comic Almanac depicting the excitement outside the Pastry Cook and Confectioner's shop window as people view the Twelfth night cakes. The youths of the day have mischievously tied the ladies dress to the gentleman's coat-tails.