Sunday, 16 December 2018

Celebrating Yule/Christmas

Yule, also known as Midwinter and the Winter Solstice, is nearly here. It's on 21st December (Friday) this year. (The date varies but is always around the 21st). The Winter Solstice is when the North Pole is furthest away from the sun, and the actual time it will happen this year will be around 10.23pm UK time (GMT). To find the time in your country visit this link:

It's the final sabbat of the calendar year, but the 1st/2nd in the Wheel of the Year seasonal cycle. I say 1st and 2nd because while Samhain is the end of the old year, it's also thought to be the start of the new. Some people start with Samhain as the beginning of the Wheel, others start with Yule. I tend to think of Samhain as both really (the last harvest festival of the year but also the start of a new cycle) and list it first. You can read more about it here:

And here is an interesting article about how the celebration of New Year varies:

Note: If you're in the Southern Hemisphere it will soon be Litha aka Midsummer/the Summer solstice. Here are my Litha celebration ideas posts:

(Also a post about no-yeast dinner rolls):

Last year I did a post about Yule celebration ideas which you can read here:

This year I thought I'd write about celebrating both Yule and Christmas, similar to the Celebrating Beltane/May Day and Samhain/Hallowe'en posts, since I enjoy celebrating both. :)

Monday, 3 December 2018

Winter Round-up + Inspiration

A year ago I wrote a post about getting ready for winter, which you can read here:

Now winter is coming again, and this year I'm going to do a round-up of previous winter posts and share some links with inspiration for the season. :)

Note: If you're in the Southern Hemisphere you might like this post about celebrating Litha/the Summer Solstice and summer:

 While I find it easy to be inspired by summer (since it's my favourite season and I like hot weather), I find winter a lot harder! I don't like cold weather and winter can be quite dreary. I like autumn because it's a beautiful time of year, but it seems quite brief really. By the end of November most of the trees in my area had lost their leaves and the lovely colours had faded. While we're still technically in autumn if you follow the astronomical definition of winter which is around 21st December (the meteorological one is 1st Dec), it's starting to feel more like winter now. Some parts of the country have had snow. There hasn't been any in my town yet but in my area they had some. The temperature is 12 degrees Celsius (54 F) today though, so warmer. It's supposed to go down to 7 tonight. Next week the coldest during the day will be about 7, so we're not in proper winter weather yet! This past winter seemed quite long with more snow than usual in the UK and I was ready when spring arrived! It will be nice if we get snow again this year/early next year though.

Sunday, 11 November 2018

Bonfire Night Fireworks Photos

Here are a few photos from  Bonfire Night firework displays I went to recently. Although Bonfire Night (also known as Guy Fawkes Night) is on 5th November, people have displays around that date, and I went to one on Hallowe'en (as I mentioned in my Hallowe'en/Samhain 2018 post) and then another one on Friday 2nd November. I didn't get many good pics at the Lancing Beach Green one, so they're mostly from the display in Preston Park in Brighton. They were more varied in colour but I had trouble getting good pictures, and these were the best ones!

Fireworks at Lancing Beach Green

Sunday, 4 November 2018

Hallowe'en/Samhain 2018

Last Wednesday it was Hallowe'en/Samhain. As I mentioned in my post Celebrating Samhain/Halloween , I had a pumpkin and made some food and drink. I made my usual Demon's Blood (a Kate West recipe of ginger beer mixed with apple and orange juice, and dyed green), and potato salad which I've done for the past few years. It's based on recipe from The Kitchen Witch by Soraya, but I did it with spring onion and chives. I made some fire roasted potatoes as well, which is a recipe from last year's Co-Op magazine. (I think it's a Bonfire Night recipe but we're in that season as well, and I did go to a firework display on Hallowee'n itself, since it happened to be that Wednesday! I'll probably share firework pics in another post. :)

Here's a picture of the pumpkin and pumpkin lantern (both have tealights inside):

Came out a bit blurry but nice effect!

Monday, 29 October 2018

Celebrating Samhain/Hallowe'en

It's time for Samhain! This year it's on a Wednesday (31st October). Samhain is my favourite sabbat (apart from Lammas). I also celebrate Hallowe'en, the modern version of Samhain. I celebrated Hallowe'en as a child, so I have combined celebrations these days.

Note: If you're in the Southern Hemisphere it's Beltane! Check out my Beltane Celebration posts here:

In the past two years I've done posts about celebrating Hallowe'en and Samhain. You can read them here:

These year I'm sharing more ideas for celebrating both Samhain and Hallowe'en, so hopefully there's something to suit you if you celebrate both (like I do) or prefer one or the other. :)

Hallowe'en info

Hallowe'en (more commonly spelt Halloween, but you can also spell as "Hallowe'en because it's a shortened version of All Hallows' Even) is thought to have originated from Samhain. In later years 1st November was made All Saint's Day by the Christian church, and the night before was known as All Hallows Evening (shortened to All Hallows' Ev'en or Eve). It's the time of year when the veil between the worlds (this world and the next, or the world beyond the one we know) thins and your loved ones may come back to visit. Also spirits are more likely to be around in general and the practice of lighting a pumpkin is thought to have originated from the pagan ritual of lighting a candle to honour and welcome your ancestors, and keep unwanted spirits away. (See below for more).  For more about the history of Hallowe'en you can read this article:

Monday, 15 October 2018

Autumn Photos + Inspiration

Autumn is properly here! (Although we have had some warmer weather recently, and I did wear my flip flops a few days ago because I thought it might be the last time I'd get to wear them this year, lol). I'm always sad to see summer go but autumn is a beautiful time of year.

I thought I'd share some recent photos I took and also some links with ideas for celebrating autumn. (Doesn't seem that long since I shared spring pictures, but it's 6 months ago now and 3 since I posted some summer photos!).

Trees in Sompting

Monday, 24 September 2018

Madron 2018

Yesterday was Madron, also known as Mabon and the Autumn Equinox. Or Saturday depending on your time zone, as I mentioned in my Celebrating Madron and Autumn post, the actual equinox time and date in the UK was  2.54am on Sunday 23rd Sept, but in the US it was 9.54pm EST on Saturday the 22nd.

My main celebration was  baking a ginger spice cake. It was based on this spiced wacky cake recipe:

I'd had the recipe saved on Pinterest for a while so this was a good opportunity to use it! I didn't know what a wacky cake was, but on the site Brandie explains that they're also called Depression-era cakes because they were good to make if you didn't have many ingredients in such as eggs, butter and milk. This recipe uses white vinegar and vegetable oil.

The original recipe uses pumpkin spice. I'm not sure if that's widely available in the UK, but there might  be some places that do it.. I decided to use ginger and mixed spices instead though, so I put a tablespoon of ginger and mixed spice in (rather than 1TBSP pumpkin spice). The frosting for the spiced wacky cake is a vanilla buttercream one from the Food Network website, but the site itself isn't available in the UK (not sure why!) so I couldn't see the recipe. Rather than make another vanilla frosting I decided to use the cream cheese icing one from the frosted white chocolate Easter cake I've made a few times (most recently this Easter). You can see that recipe here:

I'd previously used the same icing for the ginger beer cake I baked for Madron 2016, so thought it would work. It did go well and the cake itself tastes quite nice. Nice flavour and the ginger and mixed spices aren't too overpowering. The sponge is a bit chewier than some cakes though, maybe because of the oil. Here are a couple of  pics:

The mark is just a hole in the icing!