Herbal Traditions and the Winter Solstice
The longest night of the year used to be something that I dreaded in its approach but welcomed the day of it because it meant that the days would finally start getting longer again and the nights shorter. Learning about all the ancient traditions around solstice helped me to realize that humans have felt this way for a long time and that's why the celebrated the night with festivities and the welcoming back of the sun!
I have a hard time in the winter with the lack of sunlight and it definitely affects my mood like many folks this time of year.
The Herbal Academy, which is where I have taken some of my Herbalist training put together a great post about the history and folklore around the winter solstice. Read the full article here. It's a couple of years old, but a great delve into the history and worth the read!
I loved the sections about solstice cookies (Shortbread - made into rounds to symbolize the sun - recipe is in the post), where the yule log came from and how the tradition of making and giving holly wreaths began (ancient Roman Holiday called Saturnalia named after the God of Saturn - the wreaths were round to also Symbolize the sun! Read on to find out more.
But no solstice would be complete without a bonfire, mulled cider, and warm food with friends. I'm trying this with friends and our little ones this year to celebrate the longest night of the year!
I love the mention of how Indigenous groups in North America used the time to encourage dreaming. They welcomed the long nights and darkness by using herbs to bring on dreams and would share them with each other as they thought about the future days ahead.
Whatever you choose for winter solstice, I hope you enjoy the end of the long night and the slowly returning light of the sun through the winter months.
Share your solstice plans with me in the comments below!