Winter magic

by | Jul 26, 2013 | Uncategorized | 14 comments

 Are you ready for some winter magic? Come and join our midwinter dinner and ritual. It’s a little late this year, but at winter solstice some of us were away. Each year we gather around the fire for our midwinter feast and story telling. This year we were not just two families but three. We had the addition of a Chinese mum from Play Centre and her two children. Then there was my friend and her 12 year old daughter. Our 19 year old was sick and unable to be there this year, sadly.
This is the tray I prepared, with little tea light candles from Bali. They were a gift and had been waiting for a special occasion.
What’s going to happen?
First we must set to work on our feast.

 We were so hungry that I didn’t get to photograph the food. I wish I’d got a shot of the steamed pudding that I made, with blue flames shooting from it (after a little dowse with whiskey). But I’m sure you can imagine it. We had a fusion meal: Chinese, traditional English, and newly created NZ food.

 Then we gathered around the fire. Each person had been asked to bring a story to tell, or a song to sing. My friend’s twelve-year old began by reading her speech on fairies. We were entranced! Then my friend shared two photos of her making a wood stack, and read a Mary Oliver poem about wood.
My daughter-in-law held up a Chinese story book about new year, and translated it for us. It was very touching. Her Chinese friend told about growing up in West China, where it was very cold, but excellent for fruit growing. The melons were big and juicy and everyone had big melons stored under their beds over winter. They would sit and eat melons around the fire.
My son told a touching story of finding love, and I told a story about lost and found, which I will share with you next time.

After each person had told their story, they were invited to light a candle and make a wish. ‘Oh, how shall I choose?’ said the twelve-year old, and ‘I can’t bear to light it; it looks so pretty just as it is.’

But she did. The smallest ones were too shy to contribute, but they were completely still and quiet, absorbed in the magic.

 And one by one they lit a candle and made a wish. By this time all the lights were out, and we just had the light of the fire and the flickering candle flames. ‘Let’s finish with a song,’ I said, and we all linked hands. ‘What shall it be?’ I said. ‘I can’t think of a song.’ Then I began ‘I go with my little lantern,’ a song sung at the Steiner School, and who should pipe up loud and clear and lead the song but our little one (now why wasn’t I surprised at that?).
Our family is increasing as we embrace other small families and build our traditions together.


  1. Marja

    oh what a special ritual I love it I love story telling and when I was a scouting leader I was part of the campfire team as I loved singing songs and telling stories around the fire.
    I would have loved to be there. You can see that the little ones love the magic. The candles are beautiful and the fire looks like ours

  2. Max

    That sounds lovely. And i agree about the candles, they’re so pretty x

  3. Penny O'Neill

    How I loved your solstice/winter celebration, Juliet and your gathering of family and new friends. I admire you for your rituals and for how welcoming you are, bringing others into your circle. Some of most favorite celebrations were those in which a newcomer entered the circle. Thank you.

  4. juliet

    * Marja, I was in the girl guides and also loved sitting around a campfire at night. Glad you could enjoy joining us through the blog.

    * Max, glad you enjoyed it. The candles are all gone now. I’m glad I kept them for a special occasion.

    * Penny, what a lovely thing to say, about the special celebrations welcoming in a newcomer. I think extending the welcome opens the heart even more.

    Marja, Max and Penny, thank you for dropping in and commenting. Good to see you.

  5. Friko

    What a delightful thing to do.
    Embracing all ages and drawing in different worlds.

    Lovely, absolutely lovely.

  6. juliet

    * Friko, thank you. The evening has left a warm glow inside me.

  7. Claire

    I am so happy that we had my friend and her children there. I think her children were really taken by the whole ritual. They had a great first time experience of something different.

  8. juliet

    Claire, I’m so glad. Let this be the first of many more to come. The children were very sweet, and I’m glad it made an impression on them. Thank you.

  9. Hotly Spiced

    What a special time. I love the candles – they are very pretty and like the little one said, almost too pretty to light. I know in my family, a night like that would involve a lot of singing! xx

  10. juliet

    *Charlie, how great to have a singing family. The candles were exquisite – as so many things are from Bali.

  11. Vicki Lane

    Such a lovely ritual for mid-winter!

  12. juliet

    *Vicki, it was a blessing for us all. Thank you.

  13. Hilary Melton-Butcher

    Hi Juliet .. it does sound a magical time – one of those evenings that makes family special. Gloriously told too .. and I loved seeing the photos ..

    Wonderful – thank you .. Hilary

  14. juliet

    * Hilary, it was an evening to remember. Thank you.


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