Today Emma from 95 Acres of Sky is with us to share a lovely way to welcome in winter and celebrate the solstice…
This week we will mark the winter solstice (Dec 21/22), which marks the beginning of deep winter and tells us that the time has come to turn inwards and rest. Just as the sun begins his rebirth, so to do we, renewing ourselves each winter to be born again into the world in the spring.
This is one of my favorite festivals, whether shared with friends or with my own family alone, it is a time to recognize the cycle of the seasons and the role they play in our lives. This year I wanted to include in our celebrations the wild creatures that we share our land with. I was inspired by reading the lovely book, The Night Tree in which a family go into the woods to decorate a tree with treats for the animals that live there.
We are fortunate that we don’t have to go far to find a tree to decorate, but even if you live in a town, you could hang decorations at a nearby park, on a bush or set out a dish on your windowsill, the birds and squirrels will certainly thank you for it.
The way in which you decorate your tree is entirely up to you, there are lots of lovely choices. You can use purchased bird treats but I think the process of making the treats makes the offerings more personal and meaningful. Here are a few simple-to-make snacks that will be welcomed by your wild friends:
- Popcorn strings. Use plain popcorn for this rather than one with a coating, we make ours in a pan from popcorn kernels, it’s very fun! Using a thick darning needle and some wool or embroidery thread string the kernels into a long garland, string around your tree for a festive feel. See a lovely version here.
- Natural bird feeders, these can be made with all sorts of things, apple rings, carrots or even pine cones coated in peanut butter and bird seeds. There is a lovely tutorial here.
- Suet feeders are the perfect food for foraging birds, it’s important to remember the birds are omnivores so, like us, they need fat to keep them warm and well in the cold months. Vegetarians can make their feeders out of coconut oil! Here are some great links for bird treat recipes here.
- As well as leaving treats out for our feathered friends, it is lovely to scatter a few on the ground for those without wings. Pieces of carrot, nuts and berries will be a welcome addition to creatures heading into hibernation and, in my experience, nothing will bring the deer coming to call quite like pieces of pumpkin!
So this solstice get outside and enjoy the wonders of the year’s shortest day and share the blessings of your larder with your wild neighbors. Happy Solstice and a Happy Yuletide!