Return of the Sun

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,
to spring


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.Attachment-1


Medium oranges (I used 3)

Whole cloves

½ inch ribbon (optional)

Straight pins

Masking tape

Toothpicks or skewers for making holes for the cloves

Paper bags

1 t cinnamon

1 t ground cloves

1 T ground nutmeg

1 T allspice

¼ cup orris root (I order mine on Amazon)


  1. It is easiest to make holes in your orange for the cloves.  Depending on how tough the skin on your orange is, it could be difficult to just force them into the orange.
  2. Tie a ribbon around your orange if you want one. I usually crisscross mine like I am wrapping a gift. Make a loop at the top if you want to hang it up.  Make any design you want with your cloves keeping them about ¼ inch apart.  The pomander will shrink as it dries so you don’t want them too close.  Spirals and lines are nice.  Masking or electrical tape can be used to make perfect lines. You can stop here if you just want to keep them for a few days.  Make sure to refrigerate them at night.IMG_2199
  3. To dry pomanders the need to be rolled in a mixture of spices and orrisroot. Mix all spices and orrisroot together and roll pomander in these spices.  Leave the oranges in this mix for a week turning once a day.  Put pomanders in paper bags, one to a bag, to dry.  Leave them for two weeks.  Alternatively, you could put your spices in the paper bag and shake to bag to distribute the spices every day.

      Uses for Pomanders 

  • Use a few as a centerpiece for your table.
  • When dried, hang in a closet or place in a drawer for a great scent.
  • Use small oranges to make a lovely scented ornament for your tree.
  • These also make great gifts for Yule.


Photo by Damian Markutt on Unsplash and Petra Rose


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