Like many of us, I have become increasingly sick and tired of what Christmas has become in our capitalist culture.
In recent years I have begun to focus more of my attention on the Winter Solstice instead.
As someone who has suffered from seasonal depression, it gives me comfort and enthusiasm to celebrate the shortest day, the longest night.
To embrace the darkness rather than endure it.
To know the light will soon return.
The Simple Things
It feels really good to step back to more traditional ways of celebrating. Finding joy in the preparation, rather than the stress that comes with the consumer-crazy Christmas!
Spending time instead of money. Gathering boughs and branches of evergreens, preparing simple homemade gifts and cards, Baking and making. Sharing time, creating.
Health And Happiness
I have only begun to celebrate the Solstice in the last few years and I’m gradually developing my own traditions.
I love bringing in branches of Pine or Spruce, trimming the tree instead of killing it. I also prune the evergreen herbs in my garden and adorn my home with Bay and Rosemary sprigs.
I can’t help but speculate on the potential benefits of bringing these medicinal plants into my living environment at this time of year.
Pine is known for it’s antiseptic qualities among other things, while Bay has strong antibacterial properties and it’s believed that smelling Rosemary can improve mental concentration.
So it seems quite likely to me that these decorations can offer unseen advantages. Certainly more so than plastic!
Blackberry Herbal Liqueur
In September I decided to make a liqueur with my Autumn Harvest to drink at the Winter Solstice.
It seemed fitting to use Blackberries, the colour of darkness. I added a dash of red with Hawthorn, a few Nettle leaves and Yarrow.
I read somewhere that Yarrow is a friend to alcohol, enhancing the positive effects whilst lessening the less desirable ones. I’m not sure if there’s any truth in it? But I like the sound of it!
There’s no specific recipe to share with you. I just bunged it all in a jar with some sugar, added vodka, shook it up and waited.
I left it a good few weeks before straining and bottling but I noticed that the flavour changed a lot in that time.
When I tasted it after the first couple of days, it was amazing! It had that beautiful fresh, floral blackberry taste that is so divine but by the time I strained it it had matured to something more like stewed blackberries.
Still delicious but I’ll try a shorter steep next year.
Happy Winter Solstice!
As I write this, enjoying a small glass of Blackberry liqueur, I’m excited to be feasting tomorrow, on the 21st December, with a select few friends and family.
My home smells deliciously of the winter vegetable and pearl Barley stew I’ve prepared, to be eaten with freshly baked bread.
And although I can’t smell it, I know there’s a rather delicious looking (vegan) Tiramisu chilling in the next room.
Thank you for reading. I hope you have a wonderful festive season, however and whatever you celebrate.
Please feel free to leave a comment below, have you started your own traditions? How do you find warmth and cheer at this time of year? Have you made a Blackberry liqueur and if so do you have any advice to share?