Thursday, June 18, 2015

A Winter Solstice Plan

We have been living with the weak sun of mid-winter and we look forward to the days becoming longer and brighter.

There are many ways to celebrate Winter Solstice in your family, the simplest being to create a mini festival at home by make a warm and nourishing soup  that warms the heart and to eat this by candlelight only.
Our favourite at the moment is a Chana Dal Soup with beans and spinach and as it is very yellow it fits this theme perfectly and as it is cooked in the crock pot, it leaves lots of time to devote to other celebration ideas.

We have  never made a sun bread shape before but would really enjoy making this using our recipe for making dragon bread (for St George) and Dove bread (for Pentecost) although I think we would need to add a little saffron or turmeric for a more yellow colour.

Perhaps you can recite some verses that speak about the warmth of the sun or sing some simple songs.
This is a lovely simple and sweet verse-
"Candle candle burning bright,
Winter's halfway done tonight
with a-glowing we are knowing
Spring will come again."

Naturally cake is a given in our home and a sweet  Sun Cake could be made to be eaten by firelight with some warm mulled wine (recipe at bottom of post), cider (recipe here) or tea (recipe at bottom of post) to rejoice in the return of the increasing light. Then the following morning greet the day with joy as we anticipate the coming warmth.
The cold or winter  may remain yet a while, but the light of the sun becomes stronger every day.

A lovely visual exercise for the children to do is to measure their shadow in the days before and after June 21st, to show the sun approaching its lowest point and then increasing after the solstice.
This can be done outside with some chalk on the pavement or if you have a window that you have sunshine actually come in then you can crayon the markings on the window pane.
Feasting by candlelight, and spending the entire night, in honor of the longest night, with the lights off and only the fire and candles burning for indoor light is a soothing and lovely tradition.
Popcorn can be popped to be nibbled on and/or strung onto a garland to decorate the mantel above the fire. I do love a mantel!

Of course a bonfire is also a wonderful place to gather and be thankful for the light and warmth that it brings. Toasted marshmallows are also a given for us in these circumstances J

Crowns are a large part of celebrating in our home. Each birthday I make a new one for each child and so on this celebration a simple golden crown could be made from gold cardboard cut in the traditional way or even some glittery pipe cleaners tied together with golden stars hung from them.
I envision the children wearing these throughout the day.
In the past (and even recently this week) I have loved making these Bead Star's as a lovely Winter theme. The Tutorial is here

Lanterns made together a few days before and placed out side in a place that is significant, such as the path to the front door,  ready to be lit as the sun sets is quite a spectacular sight to be part of,  and again shares the anticipation of the coming warmer and lighter parts of the year

There are many more ideas and thoughts as well as  The Yule Faeries - A Winter Solstice Story in this blog post

* Mulled Wine-
1 litre dry red wine
2 x 5cm cinnamon sticks
1 dessertspoon whole cloves
1 dessertspoon whole allspice
Grated nutmeg (as much as you like)
A splash of vanilla (or a pod if you prefer)
1 large piece orange rind (avoid the pith)
1 large piece lemon rind (avoid the pith)
1 large piece of lime rind (avoid the pith)
4 tablespoons panella or xylitol (or sugar if you prefer)

In a saucepan over medium heat, combine the red wine, cinnamon, cloves, allspice, and the rinds together. Heat gently, but don't bring to the boil. Stir in 2 tablespoons of the sugar, and once dissolved, taste to see if you'd like to add more.
Keep on medium to low heat for 20 minutes to let the flavours infuse the wine. Serve your mulled wine hot in glasses or mugs.

* Spiced Tea Recipe:
6 cups of water
1 teaspoon of whole cloves
2 1/2 cm of cinnamon stick
2 tablespoons of black tea or 5 tea bags
1/2 cup of orange juice
2 tablespoons of lemon juice
1/2 cup of coconut sugar or honey

Combine water, cloves and cinnamon. Heat to boiling.
Add tea; cover and brew for 5 minutes, then strain or take bags out.
heat orange juice, lemon juice and sweetener to boiling; stir and add to hot mix
Makes 6 to eight cups.

Here is a lovely idea to make as a traditional gift 
A dream pillow or just a herb sachet made up of-
7 parts juniper
4 parts cinnamon
4 parts allspice
4 parts ginger
4 parts caraway
2 parts nutmeg
2 parts rosemary
2 parts orange peel
1 part clove
1 part bay
2 pinches of orris root

Make the sachet or pillow first and put the  herbs in.
If making a pillow also adds some wool fleece for padding too.

Now as it is a few days till Winter Solstice I hope you all planned and ready to  have a happy day celebrating J

Blessings to you and your homes,

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