In the rush and hype of Christmas and New Year’s, the Winter Solstice gets left in the dust…or perhaps lost in the dark would be more appropriate wording. In the northern hemispheres, however, this is an important time as the days will begin to grow ever so slowly longer. For gardeners and plant people, it marks both the beginning of winter and the return of the growing season. It is a time to mark how we can hold and honor together dormancy and growth, darkness and light.
My idea of a suitable celebration of the Winter Solstice is to fill the night with candles and to prepare a meal composed of food from the garden. My freezer and pantry holds the abundance of last summer’s produce, so there are many ingredients to choose from. For our Solstice Celebration I made two soups: a curried pumpkin/squash and a tomato bisque that is served with a swirl of pesto and pine nuts. We cooked the smallest of our potatoes with leeks and cream, and I made an eggplant/fig/fennel dish using the eggplant slices that were roasted and frozen in August. (Recipe for this on Wednesday.) Locally harvested scallops were baked on a bed of Tuscan kale harvested from the garden.
Those who don’t have a vegetable garden might mark this time of year in other ways. Invite fellow garden lovers over for cocktails, for example, and ask everyone to speak briefly about a plant that they grew last summer that did well. If you don’t want company, spend the evening looking through the seed catalogs that have arrived and making plans for the coming growing season.
In whatever way makes sense to you, pause and celebrate the long hours darkness and the return of extended sunlight.