The winter solstice is time to celebrate the natural world that we reside in and to connect to the gifts of the season that she gives us. I explored what the ancient traditions held in honouring their seasons and how I could immerse myself in this powerful time of the year. I loved what I found & hope to make some new traditions not only for my family but for myself too.
Respecting & revelling in Mothers Nature's seasonal gifts seems to be the main theme. Making handmade wreaths, maybe it's exploring hand pouring plant-based candles - choosing essential oils that reflect the season or mood & soaps, gifting each other crystals, seasonal seeds or plants for the garden. Natural skincare products make their way there also, look no further than Corbin Rd.
Spiritually, it’s considered the seasonal dark night of the soul, meaning it is a time to honour both the light & the dark that resides within all of us. A beautiful time to reflect, release, let go & set the intention for the new season that lies ahead . A ritual to assist with this is to write down the things that you would like to let go of and to transform the dark into light by putting it to flame.
Original Winter Solstice traditions were deeply rooted in candle light. Both for the need of light - due to the natural darkness of winter & to celebrate the sun in the upcoming months. A way to honour this , is to switch to spending the night in ambient candle light. This could be a perfect prelude to creating a meditation space whether that is a physical corner or some time carved out to reflect on the new season, for inner growth & namely for peace.
The Yin season of winter, naturally brings about hygge - things to enjoy indoors. This might look like an afternoon of mulled wine, herbal tea, board games & movies. Think about quality times w/ loved ones, removing stress, super comfortable clothing & simple pleasures.
There is no better time to light the fire, grab a book & a big mug of something warming & nourishing. And because the offering of this season definitely aligns with slowing down, making slow cooked food & soups, fermented vegetables & sourdough bread.
If being in the fresh air is more your thing it is a good time to plant new fruit trees that includes citrus, apples, pears, plums, peaches & nectarines. Also an ideal time to prune trees that have finished fruiting. To get your hands in the ground, sow seeds of spinach, silverbeet, peas, onions & lettuce. Seedlings of cabbage, cauliflower, broccoli, winter lettuce, spinach & silverbeet. Plant potatoes in warmer areas, garlic & shallots too!
In deeper nature-based traditions revellers offered Wassail as an ancient honour to the trees. It has its roots in a pagan custom of visiting orchards to sing to Try out this simple but delicious seasonally spiced recipe :
2.2 litres apple cider (non-alcoholic option ; Zeffer Alcohol Crisp Cider)
½ c brandy (optional)
Fresh ginger slices
3 cinnamon sticks
1 tsp nutmeg
1 tsp coriander seeds
2 star anise
Sliced lemons & oranges
Add the cider to a large saucepan, plus the citrus fruit plus spices and gently simmer for 45 minutes. Sweeten with honey if needed.
Serve warm & enjoy!
In New Zealand, Matariki (Māori new year) sees her own revival (albeit traditionally always celebrated) with national recognition this year for the first time, by observing a national public holiday. Matariki is an occasion to mourn the deceased, celebrate the present & prepare for the New Year ahead in the maori lunar calendar.
There are nine stars that make up the Matariki constellation. They all hold significance, reflecting particular elements of the natural world. The stars are called Matariki, Pohutukawa, Waiti, Waita, Waipuna-a-rangi, Tupuanuku, Tupuarangi, Ururangi & Hiwa-i-te-rangi. Maori ancestors looked at the stars individually as opposed to the constellation in its entirety, this gave them an insight to the year ahead.
There are many ways to celebrate the Matariki Festival with your friends & family, what a time to start a new tradition.
Matariki is a time to celebrate, relax, eat & enjoy each other's company with food that has been harvested from the current season or preserved. Have a mid-winter feast with your loved ones.
It is also a time to reflect & to remember our loved ones. Light a candle & bath in the soft light honouring their memory. Backed with the power of the Maori New Year, is an opportunity to as we do on traditional new years to reflect & to write down any future aspirations, goals, hopes & dreams.
Get outside this week & breathe in the stars, can you see the Matariki cluster? Go for a walk locally or take a trip to the beach, stroll the stream & rivers. Listen to the birds & trees. A time to connect.
Disconnect from technology & take the time out to connect with each other instead by telling stories & playing games. Matariki is also about having fun & spending time.
Coming together within your community, might call for a new neighbourhood ritual. It may involve anything from above.
We hope that you feel inspired to celebrate with whatever resonates for you & your family to enjoy this powerful & beautiful time of year. That you feel connected to our land, the people & yourself.
Kelly @ Corbin Rd.