The Winter Solstice is the shortest day and longest night of the year. Meaning more dark sky and more time for the stars to shine bright. It's an astronomical phenomenon marking the end of Fall and the start of Winter. Around the world this event is interpreted in varied ways. Here's a few simple suggestions to honor the bright stars in your life.
STONEHENGE- PLAY MUSIC AND SINGphoto credit The Telegraph
Revelers gather at Stonehenge to celebrate Winter Solstice. When the sun rises it shines through Stonehenge creating a magical beam of light. Music is played and people sing. Make a spotlight, pull out the guitar and sing a song (we love Jason Castro's Somewhere Over The Rainbow)
YULE- BURN A LOG
In Pre-Christian Scandinavia they spent 12 days celebrating Yule, the rebirth of the Sun God and the ritual of burning a log was started. Contemporary celebrations include meals and gift giving, the burning of a log or perhaps enjoying the baked version of the Yule Log perfected around the world by artisan bakers. If you don't have a fireplace you can create one outdoor, invite your friends, light a fire and celebrate the Sun that is slowly on its way.
ASTROLOGY- MAKE A LIST, MAKE A CHANGE
In astrology, the Winter Solstice marks the end of the sun in Sagittarius and the beginning of it's occupation of Capricorn. This is a time to review and get things done. You are urged to reflect on the year and see where you can make positive changes. Don't become too serious this holiday season but we say write the list of what you want to change, make a commitment to yourself and burn it!
CHICHEN ITZA-WATCH THE SUN RISE
One of the most important events in prehispanic cultures, Winter Solstice represents a time to watch the sky closely for the sun to rise at dawn. The steps of the Kukulcan pyramid are thought to look like an undulating serpent when the light is shone on them and there are carved snake heads at the bottom. An easy way to share in their experience is to rise early and watch the sun as it comes up- what shapes do you see, what thoughts do you have. Of course we think a little incense is nice as well...
DONGZHI FESTIVAL- EAT DUMPLINGS
During the long, cold winters of the past many people froze to death due to China's harsh weather. Tangyuan-dumplings- are filled with a sweet paste and served in clear and hot syrup or soup. Their roundness symbolizes family unity and harmony. This festival coincides with the longest night of the year and these dumplings are eaten to stay warm and honor the climate. Yes, they eat them all year a well but specially on this day when families gather, incense is burned and dumplings have a very special meaning.
From FH to you- happy Winter Solstice!
The Yule Logs of Instagram.
What is a yule log you say? According to History.com -
Way back when, Celtic Brits and Gaelic Europeans would gather to welcome the winter solstice at December’s end. People would feast to celebrate the days finally becoming longer, signaling the end of the winter season. To cleanse the air of the previous year’s events and to usher in the spring, families would burn logs decorated with holly, pinecones or ivy. Wine and salt were also often used to anoint the logs. Once burned, the log’s ashes were valuable treasures said to have medicinal benefits and to guard against evil. Some groups claimed the ashes would protect the bearer from lightning—an important quality at a time when houses (and most of the contents in them) were made of wood.
It's actually a very cool tradition and one you could incorporate into today's world with your loved ones and either a fireplace or a firepit.
Around the 16th century a creative baker made a log shape cake to be burned in the hearth-or fireplace. That is believed to be the start of the 'cake' yule log which was then made popular by those smart French bakers in the 19th century and they called it buche de noel. These cakes are rolled sponge cake and frosting with meringue decorations all done up to look just like a cute little log in the forest.
Cut to 2015 and you have people baking yule logs and buche de noel all over the world. With the popularity of photo sharing websites like Instagram -where we love to hang out-we can see just what kind of yule logs are out there. So without further adieu we bring you our favorite yule logs of Instagram.
Yes- this says Happy Anniversary but don't let that fool you. It's still a yule log! We love the holly, mushrooms, snow and red background. We got the fever. From Sweet Inspirations in Denver, CO. Instagram @sweetibakery
So we can't confirm who made this or if there's a recipe for this, well, buche de noel (can't call it a yule log but it's AMAZING!!). Instagram user @alexclooz posted this pic and all we can say is wow! Looks cool and edible and it has trees!
All the way in Indonesia we have St Claire Patisserie and their elaborate ode to Christmas. This yule log covers all the bases and sadly you must be there to get one! Or maybe that's a good thing, we all need a trip to Indonesia for Christmas. Instagram @stclairepatisserie
Merry Christmas and happy yule log eating. FH