Savouring December: A Seasonal Guide
December, the month where everything turns a little bit magical and the start of the meteorological winter.
It’s also the month of finding light in the darkness - the twinkle of fairy lights and the glow of moonlight as she appears bright, clear and high in the sky. For me, December is one of my favourite months. I can’t deny that I love Christmas, growing up it was always a big family affair and I love nothing more than continuing the traditions (and eating allll the mince pies!).
Seasonal Living in December
IN THE GARDEN
The short days and grey, dreary weather mean that not much gets done in the garden in December, but there are some jobs that can be done behind the scenes.
Clean and sharpen tools so that they are in as good condition as possible for next year.
Plant bare-root and soft fruits such as apples, pears, quinces, blackberries, raspberries and redcurrant.
Plant Shallot sets. Plant them close to the shortest day and they will be ready to harvest on the longest day, at the end of June. If the ground is wet and muddy, plant them into plugs and keep them in the cold frame or greenhouse.
RITUALS IN DECEMBER
Honour the winter solstice/midwinter/Yule. The 21st of the month is the shortest day of the year but despite the lack of daylight, this is a day of celebrating the light. It’s a reminder that no matter how dark it gets, the light always returns. Try one of these rituals:
Yule log - The yule log was originally an large oak log that was burnt to celebrate the return of the sun each year. It was not burned completely its first year - instead, part of it was saved to light the following year's yule log and was kept around the house to ward off a range of misfortunes. It might not be so easy to get your hands on an oak log, but you can still recreate this ceremony by burning a log from a tree in your garden. As you burn it, practice gratitude for the return of the light and set your intentions for the year ahead.
Light - You might not be able to burn a yule log but you can still celebrate the lengthening days by decorating your house with fairy lights and candles, setting your intention as you light them.
Bring the outdoors in - Evergreens symbolise life at a time when only the bare bones of nature exist. Hang holly and mistletoe, gather firs and pine branches to create a wreath.
NATURE IN DECEMBER
Hedgerows are awash with beautiful red berries (if the birds haven’t eaten them yet!).
Keep an eye (ear) out for the red-breasted robins that are singing this month.
Murmurations of starlings taking to the skies just before dusk.
Seasonal eating in December
Jerusalem artichokes, carrots, beetroot, leeks, cauliflower, Brussels sprouts, kale, winter cabbage and winter squash are all in abundance this month.
Cranberries, clementines and satsumas provide a pop of colour to winter dishes.
Hazelnuts, chestnuts and walnuts are plentiful.
Duck, goose, grouse, guinea fowl, partridge, pheasant and venison are in season. And of course Turkey is readily available.
Ingredient of the month
Brussels sprouts are at their sweetest after the first frosts.
Fry them with bacon and sage, or add them to a winter salad with apple, pear, carrots, walnuts and mayonnaise
Essential Oils for December
Renowned as one of the most prized and precious essential oils, Frankincense has always had a connection to Christmas. Whilst it’s a beautiful oil to add to your spiritual practice, it also has a range of health benefits. Apply it to the bottoms of your feet to keep you grounded in this busy season.
If you can’t bring a real Christmas tree into your home, you can still enjoy its scent. Diffuse Douglas fir and enjoy the fresh forest scent.