Cold and dark, this time of year,
the earth lies dormant, awaiting the return
of the sun, and with it, life.
Far beneath the frozen surface,
a heartbeat waits,
until the moment is right,
Winter solstice is the darkest day of the year, as my father put it. I think he meant it to tease my mother, however, as it was her birthday. It is the darkest, but with a glimmer of hope for the sun’s return. After solstice the sun’s arc increases incrementally every day. So solstice is indeed the return of the sun.
The gods of paganism are intimately tied to the sun, as the goddess is to the moon. The return of the sun is the birth and return of the god in a never ending cycle of death and rebirth in many traditions. This cycle illuminates the agricultural cycle of the rebirth of plants from seeds and their inevitable harvest or death by fall’s frost. It is easy to see how early people, who were closer to nature, watched these cycles closely, eventually revering them in their religion and practices. These cycles are ultimately tied to sustenance, and in turn, basic existence.
To celebrate the return of the sun at solstice, an orange pomander is a great winter craft. Orange pomanders were used since medieval times to ward off bad omens and bring prosperity. Modern pomanders are basically oranges studded with cloves and rolled in spices. They give off a wonderful scent, and if dried, can last for years. Oranges are wonderful to use at Yule as they symbolize the return of the sun. They also make great ornaments and decorations for your home. In their simplest form they are just cloves pushed into fresh oranges. You can make these simple pomanders last longer by refrigerating them at night. To keep them for a longer time, even years, will require you to dry them using spices. The recipe that follows is the drying method which will preserve them for years of enjoyment.
Medium oranges (I used 3)
½ inch ribbon (optional)
Toothpicks or skewers for making holes for the cloves
1 t cinnamon
1 t ground cloves
1 T ground nutmeg
1 T allspice
¼ cup orris root (I order mine on Amazon)
Uses for Pomanders