Winter Solstice is a week away.
It’s… funny. Or something. The way all the things I grew up with as “Christmas Traditions” have their roots in pre-Christian veneration of nature, nature-deities, and ancestors in various parts of Europe.
So I find myself doing what so many of us converts do: Celebrating Christmas (in the family, feasting, feting, and generally hoo-ha sense of the holiday) with The Relatives, and trying to establish my own Solstice traditions that can be kept up in spite of a non-set date and (typically) having to hit the day-job the following morning.
I have made candles just now (soy votives ft sweet orange, ginger, vanilla, and maybe some clove – yes, the smells are glorious, and mix well together, but they’re also big energizers that draw love, money, sex, and joy into your life so… Definitely. Definitely yes) that are quietly cooling/solidifying in the kitchen, and I have a candle-wreath that I rarely hang up these days, but which I’d like to (Eventually, when I have the wall-space to do so) get back into bringing it out every year.
I make shortbread cookies (stars, moons, holly leaves, that kind of thing), Winter Queen cookies (chocolate and pomegranate, courtesy of Seanan McGuire), flourless nut drops, sometimes ginger snaps, various chocolate truffles, the occasional tray of chocolate pumpkin-seed butter bark and, this year, I’m adding peanut-butter fudge and Cranberry Sunbursts (thumb-print sugar cookies with cranberry curd in lieu of jam) to my list of Things To Bake. (Wish me luck!)
I mull a red wine (named for the night, conveniently) with pomegranate juice and spices. We drink ice cider and ice wine and Sortilege (the whiskey, not the form of cleromancy). I mull sweet cider, too, and serve cranberry juice.
I cover every surface with candles and do tarot readings for the year ahead.
I do a candle-lit dinner with all-seasonal, all-vegetarian dishes, that goes pretty heavy on the winter squash and fills my home with warmth and delicious smells.
I decorate a (fake) holly garland with pine cones, snowflakes, icicles, and other nature-themed decorations plus lengths of sun-moon-stars and snowflake garlands. I hang up my (fake) spruce wreath. Back when I had a fire place, I put all the gifts around the hearth.
Bit by bit I’m slowly building traditions of my own. 🙂
Off to make some shortbread.
Meliad the Birch Maiden
 I’m not vegetarian, not by a long shot. But I was when I started doing these dinners. Plus I aim to serve as much Stuff I Grew/Gathered Myself (years like this, when I have a tiny garden and no long-keeping veggies in it, this doesn’t work so well, but…) as possible, and I’m not yet a hunter, so.