Posted by: Barbara Evanhoe | December 21, 2011

Winter Solstice ~ Merry Yule

As the children grew up and moved away, the Christmas holidays seemed to lose their “magic”, and I decided, after a time, to make some changes in my holiday traditions.

Transferring focus from generating a pile of gifts under the tree on Christmas morning, I opted for a simpler, more inwardly centered celebration on the Winter Solstice ~ the shortest day and longest night of the year ~ marking the slow return of the sun’s light and warmth as the wheel of the year turns and we look longingly toward spring.

The Winter Solstice is sort of a combination of  Christmas and New Year’s traditions, and in that spirit, the dark days of winter are naturally suited for introspection on adjustments we hope to make in our attitudes and outward life, in order to “improve ourselves” or the quality of our day-to-day.

As the Solstice approaches, I spend some time contemplating what I will be focusing my efforts on, and when I have made my selection for the coming year, I write it down, and save the paper for a little ceremony.

The day of our Solstice celebration, Keith and I get to work baking sweet treats ~like crispy sugar cookies with fresh rosemary, to be paired with our home-made elderflower wine…

…cooking up a tasty main dish ~ Carne Adobada (alternate spelling: carne adovada) ~ a southwest delight of melt-in-your-mouth pork marinated and simmered for hours in red chile sauce…

and decorating the Yule Log ~ this year, a fine branch of mesquite from a nearby ranch, gifted by a neighbor, and decorated with fresh pine, mistletoe and rosemary…

Each year the sweets, main dish and decorations change, depending on our whims and where in the nation we are making our home.

This year, although today is the official Winter Solstice, Keith and I celebrated last night on “Solstice Eve”, because we will be working at the hot springs tonight.

As sunset approached, all the preparations were made, and we were ready for a simple, yet meaningful celebration…

Keith stepped out into the New Mexico night to start a small bonfire in our tabletop grill while I prepared our dinner of bowls filled with steaming carne adobada with warm tortillas on the side.

We sat by the fire to dine under the stars, and when our bellies were full, we placed a small chunk of last year’s Yule Log onto the fire.

Using a piece of last year’s log to start the next Yule Log burning is an ancient tradition that we have enjoyed carrying on.

Once the old log was ablaze, we placed the papers containing our resolutions and intentions into the fire, along with our 2011 Yule Log and watched all go up in flames…

When we took a close look at the photo of our fire, we were fascinated by what appeared to be a fiery figure rising from the right side of the flames, with arms raised as if making an offering…..fascinating ending to a lovely winter celebration.

And, as you carry out your own personal traditions at this time of year, we wish you the very best of holidays that will usher in joy, good health, wisdom and all good things!



  1. What a lovely night! Happy Solstice!

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