Just a quick drop in to say 'hello' on this Winter Solstice morning! I've been laid low battling germs all week, but now that term has ended I can recover and enjoy our Christmas preparations. B and J are both home from university, and P is on holiday now too - the house is full again and it's all feeling cosy and festive here at The House with the Blue Door.
Now is the darkest point in the year, and I imagine the earth starting to turn towards the light again after today. Traditionally our ancestors gathered evergreen foliage and greenery and brought them into their homes for their winter festivals to keep evil spirits away, celebrate growth and bring good luck. I always light candles and bring into the house some holly, ivy, mistletoe and rosemary. This is also traditionally the first day of winter here in the northern hemisphere, and it's an evocative time of reflection and spirituality, a time of shadows and flickering firelight, at the same time cosy and mysterious. It's a time for story-telling and imagination, snuggling up indoors and reading or listening to something magical by candlelight. With Christmas Day itself imminent, I don't always manage to do all of this, but try to incorporate at least some of it into my 21st of December.
Mistletoe is one of my favourite winter evergreens; such a strange plant both in looks and habit, parasitic and with very sticky berries which are transported to their host trees by sticking to birds' beaks. It grows well in apple orchards (but also on other trees as well) and is quite prevalent here in Somerset. Mistletoe has ancient, pagan associations and nowadays it's still very much a part of Christmas celebrations, hung around the home for people to kiss under.
In ancient times the winter solstice was a time to think about the coming year and to encourage the sun to return to a dark, cold world. It certainly must have seemed as if the sun had lost its power, appearing weak and low in the sky.
And so, as we prepare for the Christmas festivities, I look forward to our days lengthening and the sun's warmth in the year to come.
Have a Happy Solstice x