Monday, 21 December 2015

winter solstice




Some of you might remember that way back when it was warmer, and the sun was still a thing, that we decided to celebrate the solstice with a little bit of baking. It didn't go quite according to plan, but it's definitely not put me off - the winter solstice is tomorrow, and once again I'm going to try and get busy with some sort of food-based project. Just, definitely NOT in a bundt tin.

The winter solstice falls on the shortest day of the year; traditionally, people spend the day celebrating the return to lighter mornings and shorter nights. In ancient times, there would be sacrifices, and feasts and all sorts of general bad behaviour, but these days it can be interpreted however you like; from celebrating nature and the sun to sharing food with friends. I'm going to be baking something tasty (well, it might taste like crap again, but at least the thought will be there!), lighting every candle in the house and faffing about with some greenery - but I've also come up with another few ideas to help you celebrate the solstice in your own way.

1. Make a wreath or garland, or get involved with some other nature based project
Melanie from Geoffrey and Grace made an amazing midwinter ivy wreath, and spoke about traditions that her and her family have begun to celebrate the solstice, and I'm going to be trying to make some sort of garland-y-swag type thing for our stairs, but there are a gazillion ways to bring nature inside. Gather some pinecones, and arrange them in a glass bowl to use as a centrepiece, arrange some foraged or bought foliage in a beautiful vase, or make and decorate pomanders - keep it simple, and keep it fun.

2. Light candles
Down here in the south, we haven't seen the sun for weeks. It's warm, damp and grey, and completely un-Christmas like - I've had my festive scented candle lit most days to keep the miseries away, but the solstice for me is a good excuse to light the place up like a fairy grotto. I usually use large church or pillar candles and tealights, but I'm just getting into beeswax as well - they have a slighty wamer, gentler glow.

3. Get busy in the kitchen
I've decided to try my hand at baking some gingerbread, but really anything seasonal that you can share with friends and family is great. Homebaked bread is always a great choice, and it smells amazing when it's cooking, and a hearty slow-cooked stew with plenty of seasonal root vegetables is also a winner. Really, anything put together with love is grand. Edible is a bonus.

4. Head outside
What better way to celebrate nature and the sun, than getting outside for a long walk, a trip to the park with the littlies, or a den building expedition in the woods? Warm up afterwards with steaming mugs of tea or hot chocolate, a good selection of biscuits and a Christmas film or two (National Lampoons is the film of choice here!)

5. Explore the night sky
There are some great constellations to find during the winter (don't ask me which, I can't tell orion from the big dipper!), and whether you know what you're looking at or not, the night sky can be a spectacular sight. There are apps which you can download to your smartphone which help you to identify stars and constellations, and there are hundreds of resources online which are helpful as well.

The pictures at the top of this post are from Death to the Stock Photo; I've got a paid subscription, and for anyone who ever needs stock photography, I can't recommend them highly enough. Worth every penny, and a lifesaver when you need that perfect photo. (And no, this is not a sponsored post!)
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