By A.C. Cargill
Tea is great for any occasion, and Winter Solstice is no exception. You can gather your friends, steep up a pot of your favorite Oolong, Darjeeling, Earl Grey, Breakfast Blend, etc., then lay out a tasty spread of delectable munchables and toast the day.
What is Winter Solstice? Usually, it’s the 21st or 22nd of December. It’s the day when the number of hours of daylight have reached their minimum and the hours of darkness have reached their maximum. Each successive day after that, the number of hours of daylight will start to get longer (sunset will occur later) and the number of hours of darkness will get shorter (sunrise will occur earlier) until the Summer Solstice. (Of course, I’m talking about the Northern Hemisphere. The reverse is true in the Southern Hemisphere, where this December date is Summer Solstice.)
Winter Solstice day used to be celebrated as a sign that the hours of life-giving sunlight will be getting longer (very important to people relying on an agrarian economy). In these modern times, we mark it as the first day of Winter. (Some people across the nation got an early start on the season already with a blizzardy blast of cold, snow, and ice in early December.)
In either Hemisphere, the December Solstice, being a few days before Christmas, is just another part of the mad rush holiday season that really starts the day after Halloween. In fact, Winter Solstice is often overlooked or thought of as a leftover from the time when people attributed mystical qualities to the day. When you’re dependent on the Sun to keep you warm and grow crops for food, that’s totally understandable. Thanks to modern agricultural and food preservation methods, we have a much steadier food supply and are less dependent on this cycle of daylight vs. darkness hours. So, any such significance is no longer relevant.
That shouldn’t stop you from throwing a Winter Solstice Tea Party, though!
One approach would be to have a party theme that emphasizes light, with lots of candles and bright colors. The foods could be made from seasonal produce such as a spicy pumpkin soup, a hearty meat entrée like Beef Roulade or Glazed Ham, sunny-looking nibble foods like deviled eggs and celery sticks with cream cheese and cilantro, and fruit salads, lemon tarts (so sunny looking!), or fruity parfaits.
What would be better to wash it all down with than hot tea? Additional tea choices (to the ones above) might be rich-tasting Assam and Keemun. Blend in some spices like ginger, cinnamon, and cloves for a healthy and tasty chai. Or you can thrill your guests with the spectacle of a flowering tea blooming in a glass teapot. Green tea and Oolong add an exotic Oriental touch as well as being teas that are good for the waistline.
Whatever foods you serve and whichever tea you serve with it, your teatime feast will surely portend the coming of a bountiful Spring and Summer, when the sun caresses the earth and pulls forth green shoots from the seeds that are planted and these shoots continue to grow and burgeon with their own seeds and fruits.
The cycle of life continues. Cheers!
Pass the winter months by reading A.C.’s blog, Tea Time with A.C. Cargill!