Like most things around Yuletide, this box felt rich and indulgent. I had so many ideas for the goodies to make for this box, that it ended up being a little bigger than previous boxes, but I’m ok with that, Yule being the creature that it is. It’s a time for feasting and friends, entertaining and making merry.
While we are busy making things bright and cheerful inside, a very different thing is happening outside. The sunlight has been gradually fading and nights have been growing longer since summer solstice. The candle has almost burned itself out. We might be feeling hemmed in by darkness and weighed down by the stagnation of the cold half of the year. Our creative energy might be in a slump. Even though there are a few months of winter ahead of us, there is indeed a light at the end of the tunnel, and we can take heart at the return of the sun at solstice. Its rising and setting will begin to drift further apart as a reminder and a promise of the life that will return in springtime.
I honored my Danish heritage in this box by including a bit of hygge. Hygge (hoo’-gah) is kind of hard to define, but it’s a Dansk word encompassing all things homey and cozy. It’s candlelit gatherings in chunky woolen sweaters and fireside chats with your hands wrapped around a steaming mug while the winter winds billow and blow outside. In this box, the mulling spices to make gløgg and the candles were to help you to create a hyggelig Yuletide gathering!
Mulling Spices: This blend of spices is specific to make traditional Danish gløgg (from The Little Book of Hygge), but you could certainly make mulled apple cider with them or traditional wassail. A recipe card is included for making the gløgg. Just add liquor! (and raisins and almonds if that’s your thing!)
Ingredients: cinnamon chips, whole allspice, whole cloves, cardamom, orange peel, star anise.
Hand-dipped candles rolled in pine needles with Winter Solstice Ritual + Prayer: Winter solstice coincides with Yule, and so I made candles to honor the dying of the light and its faithful return. A small and simple ritual prayer was included that I wrote for and intimate winter solstice gathering I had with my friends last year. There’s nothing more hygge than warm pools of candlelight shining on friends’ faces and the smell of beeswax filling the room. Made with locally sourced beeswax and wildcrafted white pine and cedar (from a tree my grandmother planted).
Pine + Cedar Body Butter: On Samhuinn day, I said “I need to find a nice cedar tree and a white pine.” So, Jeremy and I hopped on our golf cart and puttered down through the field towards the farm in search of said trees. At the corner of the cow pasture, I gasped as I realized a tree I had walked and driven past a thousand times was a big beautiful cedar. Then, we hopped the fence (me in my long skirt) and found a nice white pine about a dozen yards away. As I’m picking needles off the tree, Jeremy reminds me that my grandmother planted these trees. Not long before she passed, we put her on the golf cart and took her for one last spin around the farm. She was almost too frail to leave the house. We gave her a lap blanket and she wore her favorite Phillies baseball cap. As she was chauffeured around the property, she pointed at the big mature evergreens and said “I remember planting those trees- I never thought I’d see them again!” So, it seemed very fitting to be harvesting this ancestral magic on Samhuinn. Thinning veil, indeed.
Ingredients: white pine and cedar infused oil (almond, grape seed, jojoba), hemp seed oil, shea butter, kokum butter, rosemary antioxidant, essential oils of pine needle, frankincense, Virginia cedarwood, black spruce.
Orange Pomander Bitters: I would venture to say that we are all guilty of overindulging during the holidays. Rich, dense foods can feel heavy in your belly and cause all sorts of discomfort. Bitters can help just about every stage of the digestive process from the release of saliva, to breakdown of fats, to relieving gas, to waking up sluggish digestive tracts. Orange and clove feature in this formula as an ode to one of my favorite yuletide folk crafts, the orange pomander, which is whole cloves pressed into the skin of an orange. Clove just happens to be a great sialagogue (releaser of saliva), and orange peel is pleasantly bitter. Together, their aromatics have a carminative effect (helps to relieve gas and bloating). Burdock adds to the bitterness, while its oiliness offsets the drying effects of clove. Chamomile is to help calm upset bellies and relieve gas and bloating.
Ingredients: orange peel, clove, cinnamon, burdock, rosemary, chamomile, organic cane alcohol, vegetable glycerine, maple syrup.
Yuletide Cordial: “Just a bunch of Christmas shit in brandy. Keep this in your pocket to help you get through the holidays.”
I mean, if we’re gonna be real about the holidays…. Hopefully you also have healthier coping mechanisms for dealing with holiday stress, but sometimes a wee nip wouldn’t come amiss. This is 3.5oz of brandy soaked Christmas cheer, perfectly sized for pockets, purses, or stuffed in your bra (what, most dresses don’t have pockets!). To make this, I filled a big-ass jar with everything Christmassy I could find in my kitchen and let it swim in brandy for a solid month. Then I added cranberry infused honey. It’s comforting and sweet and delicious for when you just can’t with Christmas anymore.
Ingredients: pine needles, rose hips, cardamom, rosemary, orange peel, cranberries, brandy, honey.
Rekindle Elixir: On solstice morning, wake just before the sun, and go outside and let some part of nature touch your bare skin- feet on the cold, slumbering earth, or hands on a silent tree. You now occupy the darkest place in the year. Let that darkness have its rightful space, acknowledging its importance in the celestial dance happening above our heads and here below on Earth and within us. As the first beams break the horizon, imagine the gentle rays of light chasing away the shadows that harbor despair and depression. Let the sun’s light enter your eye and imagine it bouncing off every internal surface like angled mirrors directing this beam of light to your core, concentrating it along the way. Let it illuminate every nook and cranny from your fingertips to the cradle of your pelvis. No stagnant energy can remain wherever this light flows. Ask it to bring creative, generative energy to areas that have been in darkness too long. Know that these beams of light are constant and faithful, following the sacred rhythms of our life giving Earth. This is the great rekindling of the wheel.
Ingredients: St. John’s wort, rosemary, lemon balm, hawthorn (leaf, berry, flower), thyme, mistletoe essence, local PA honey, preservative free brandy.
Uplifting, gently warming, heart protective.
This box was the first one to completely sell out! I did have a few extras of some of the items, so you can always check my Etsy apothecary to see what I’ve got in stock. I most likely won’t be making more of these seasonal things until the next year, as I’m already deep into preparing things for the next box, Imbolg. Stay tuned for new and exciting things in 2018! You can follow me on instagram @motherhylde or Mother Hylde’s Herbal on good ol’ facebook.