What a good time to celebrate – smack in the real depths of winter, where here in New England many call the ‘winter season’ November through March (though we all know well and good it can snow in October and April, too!). But February 2nd is the technical midpoint between the Winter Solstice and the Vernal Equinox.
I have always been especially connected to Imbolc, even before we celebrated the ‘seasonals’. My ancestors knew I was a woman and a witch. I was born and served out my childhood in Pennsylvania where Groundhog Day is centered (years ago doing some research I vaguely remember some other areas with other large rodents to foretell the weather – Badgers maybe in Staten Island?) and it has always been my favorite holiday. C’mon, a furry-faced little critter deciding our fate?!! I’m sold. Except for Punxatawney Phil, no one is really exploited or neglected or has a history of annihilation, so that makes it a pretty solid celebratory day to me (and really, for a groundhog, I bet Phil’s got it pretty cozy).
We prefer to celebrate our mid-winter with a little Scotch tasting party. We started around 2012 and we’ve only missed one or two, I think, since. It’s a lovely gathering, mostly people who like or are intrigued by Scotch (which many also happen to be close friends – great minds and all), some fancy foods (sometimes I try and steer for traditional Scottish or hearty fare and sometimes not, depends on if I find that something is supposed to be tasty with Scotch!) and a relaxed atmosphere. Josh likes to talk about Scotch so he introduces each with a little info where we can all get a glimpse of different regions and years and other taste factors. Everybody brings a bottle to try and we generally all learn something new.
This year we decorated the windows with magickal alder branches (the goddess tree with deep affinity to the faerie folk and properties to help overcome obstacles) and twinkly lights, made a vat of Chicken Pate and Pickles, Josh’s yummy Sourdough loaves, Scotch eggs and Fermented Mustard, Colcannon (or a version of Clapshot), Roast Pumpkin Mash with Sage, Cranberry Beans with Cider Syrup, Molasses Spice Cake, Apple Crisp, and guests brought delicious hummus and veggies, sexy cheeses, and a Chocolate Zucchini Bundt cake – AMAZING!! It was a nice spread, great conversation, and many many Scotch’s. What a way to survive the Winter! Thank you all so much! It is a holiday that is, in all its kookiness, close to our hearts – Happy Mid Winter!