Most of the religious holidays on the calendar mean little to me. We celebrate the Christian holidays primarily as tradition and to spend time with each other as a family, but none of us are actually Christian. My spiritual inclinations tend more towards paganism; Easter isn’t meaningful to me because of the resurrection of Christ, it’s meaningful to me because of the resurrection of the earth. I do love how the date of Easter is determined — it takes place on the first Sunday after the first full moon after the spring equinox — and to me Easter means the rebirth of life: it means green emerging from the ground again, it means snowdrops and daffodils, and creatures blinking back out into the sun. But instead of celebrating Easter, I celebrate the equinox. I usually make seed bread, and I try to time my annual gardening vacation around it.
I love the spring equinox, it is a joyous time of the year. So much life reemerging! But my favorite holiday to celebrate is the winter solstice. The winter solstice is the shortest day, and the longest night. Where I live, the sun rises at 7:32 am on the solstice this year, and sets at 5:07: we’ve got nine hours and 35 minutes of daylight.
What I love about the solstice is that after weeks of lamenting the short days that just kept getting shorter, after weeks of late sunrises and early sunsets, on this day we can rejoice that the shortening of days is over. The sun is born! The days begin to lengthen again. The sun rises earlier, the sun sets later. The solstice means more light is coming.
I took today off of work to celebrate. I refilled the bird feeders, brought in more firewood for the bitter cold front that’s supposed to arrive on Friday, bought fresh bagels for the kids, and am preparing a solstice feast.
In fact, the real reason I’m writing this blog post is to document the menu so I can remember it in future years: Bakewell tart, homemade applesauce, crescent rolls (some baked with brie and jam), Caramelized Onion and Butternut Squash Roast (with pecans instead of chestnuts), and a winter solstice salad (with almonds and goat cheese instead of walnuts and feta). I love the combinations of autumn vegetables like caramelized onions and butternut squash, winter fruits like blood oranges and pomegranate, and nuts and cheeses for this meal. The kids probably won’t care about the salad or the butternut squash dish, but they’ll love the plain rolls, the applesauce, and the tart. I also made a batch of peanut butter chocolate chip cookies this morning, so they can eat cookies if they don’t like anything else.
I’ve made the applesauce and it’s cooling on the counter. Now I’ll go for a run under the sunny, blue, solstice sky. I’ll bake the tart this afternoon before going back into the kitchen this evening to make the rest.
Happy solstice everyone 🙂