Here in the Northern Hemisphere, we are entering the darkest days of the year. The sun is down by the time we come home from work and our dinners are eaten under the dark night’s sky. Even at noon the shadows are long and slanting. These days’ holiday preparations are in full swing, and our minds swirl with plans for gifts, treats, decorations, parties and travel. Among the many holiday traditions now, one of my favorite is marking the Winter Solstice. As the final hours of Autumn slip away, Winter arrives in its frosted palanquin in the early mornings of Wednesday, December 21st at 2:44 am PST to be exact.
This day will have the shortest day and the longest night with the earliest sunset and latest sunrise. As Autumn gives way to Winter the earth is growing quiet. The plants and animals are storing away food for the cold months or preparing to sink into dormancy. I believe that to offset these dark days our ancestors have carried on traditions and it is no accident that so many festivals are planned during the deep quiet that arrives with the chill in the air and blankets of snow. In the darkness, we emphasize celebrations of light. People of different beliefs celebrate light in various ways. The Hindu festival of lights, Diwali, has just passed and this year Hanukah arrives on Christmas Eve. The Jewish celebration of Hanukah is the remembrance of the rededication of the Temple and of the miracle of lamps whose oil should have lasted one day and lasted for eight. Light is celebrated among a community of sharing and giving, which remind us to carry the gifts of summer with us into the quiet of winter. At the time of the longest night, we find joyful celebrations of returning light. Many earth-based traditions honor the Winter Solstice with special joy, lighting fires and candles and exchanging gifts. This seasonal observance has been kept by people around the world from all paths and beliefs.
Let’s take the time this day to resonate with what is happening in the natural world with the arrival of the Winter Solstice and embrace the serenity around us. I will celebrate the Winter Solstice with family reflecting on insights that we can gain from looking back upon the year that has been and on what may be to come. This celebration is opposite of the constant harried motions that the Christmas season is for many of us and we get together with simplicity at a warm and relaxed soup party that embodies strengthening of family bonding. The theme of the party is a Winter night. The evening is full of comfort and warmth. I am stringing fairy lights everywhere and candles are lit to celebrate light. The menu is of course simple with an array of soups that fit the occasion. Here is the roundup of soups for my Winter Solstice Soup Party:
Starting the evening with Pistachio Soup. The soft green color of the soup on your dining table is festive to the season and Pistachios bring an earthly element to the indoors.
Roasted Garlic and Smoked Salmon Potato Soup
This is a hearty and delicious soup that reminds us of the salty seaside. Roasted Garlic and Smoked Salmon Potato Soup is incredibly creamy and a mouthful of flavor.
Thai Carrot Soup
This is fiery soup and not only heats us up, but brings an element of fire and light to mind. Thai Carrot Soup is also a wonderful option for the vegetarians attending your celebration.
Beef Stroganoff Soup
Meats and hearty starchy food is a large part of this seasonal celebration. Beef Stroganoff Soup can be considered a main course and is filling for all.
Of course, you want to serve big loaves of bread, served whole, so people can tear chunks alongside this soup scape. And plenty of mulled wine as well as hot drinking chocolate that can be scooped into cups out of warm pots is perfect for this occasion.
I wish you all a magical Winter Solstice, a very Merry Christmas and a healthy, Happy New Year!