Monday, December 28, 2015

Holidays 20.01 - Yule

This past December 22, I thought I'd add more of a Yule element to my celebration.  I was essentially by myself, so I made some wassail - a more traditional-tasting style, hopefully.

Wassail with Stout or Brown Ale
- Brown Ale or Stout, preferably a holiday-style one with spices, toasty qualities
- Orange juice
- Apple cider
- Cinnamon sticks
- 2-3 tangerines
- Whole cloves
- Slices of fresh ginger root
- Pomegranate Juice

Instructions: Two parts brown ale, one part OJ, two parts apple cider, 2-3 cinnamon sticks, and one part pomegranate juice.  Add a couple quarter-sized slices of peeled ginger.  Stick the cloves into the tangerines, spaced about 1cm apart, and then place in the mixture, all in a large sauce pain.  Heat over medium heat, then bring to a low temperature.  Let sit for at least half an hour so the flavors meld together.  Serve in mugs and enjoy!

In addition to opening a few small gifts, I took a moment to dim the lights and light a candlestick, propped up in a black cat Riesling bottle.  For probably twenty minutes or so I stared at the flame, appreciating the fact that soon more light would be shining on the planet.  With that, I thought about trying to relight some of the energy in my own life, since I had been feeling rather low the last two or three weeks.  Watching the flickering flame reach high and fall back, over and over, morphing and stretching upwards only to die down as if snapping back from an elastic pull, I felt that spark of motivation.  All I had to do was keep trying.  Whenever I fell back into that pit of monotony, just burn brighter.  I spent the rest of the night illuminated only by candle light, in respect of the darkest night of the year and appreciative of the small flames that could yet illuminate so much.

Next up will be Imbolc, which has much more emphasis on candles.  Christians celebrate it as Candlemas, others as Groundhog Day.  This year it is February 1st - often celebrated by lighting fires.  It celebrates light within winter, even though the days have been getting lighter it is still winter after all.  A lot of it focuses on fertility and such as the land is just starting to produce again after the cold of fall and winter.  Imbolc derives from the Old Irish meaning "in the belly" or alternatively "ewe's milk."  As such, most food involves milk, cheese, pastries, seeds.  Poppyseed cake is especially popular, so I may need to find a recipe for that...  drinks include herbal tea, mulled wines (I'm leaning towards mulled mead...Chaucer's is my favorite so far!).  This might be when I go to get my blackberry and raspberry plants finally, as planting gardens and general appreciation of nature is part of this holiday.  Nature plays a large role in all of these however, hence my long-standing interest.

Anyhow, looking forward to Imbolc.  To read more, check out this article.

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