Every year I have a Winter solstice party. This year, I wasn't able to have the party on solstice itself due to other commitments, so I was pretty psyched to see that Santa Lucia was the weekend before. Santa Lucia is a Scandinavian festival of lights to help the northerners get through the darkest days of the year. The festival's namesake is a blond-braided saint who would come on the darkest day of winter bearing light (by way of a candle crown) and fresh pastries - my kind of holy woman!
Growing up, my family celebrated Santa Lucia and I had the honor of wearing the (fake) candle crown and offering pastries, so it was fun to bring back this great tradition. Thus, we were able to throw a solstice party not on solstice itself, but still keep our heads held high. And yes, I did wear a candle crown of sorts made from fresh Christmas tree fronds and a battery-powered string of lights. Below are some of the fun aspects included in this year's celebration of moving into brighter days.
Solstice Chandelier: I love live Christmas trees for their smell, authenticity, and how good they make you feel when you return home to them. However, they are also expensive and not very environmentally-friendly. A few years ago, I discovered that Christmas tree lots gladly let you take extra fronds they cut from trees - for free! After some faulty attempts and creating a tree myself and the discovery that it worked much better when strung together and hung upside-down, the Christmas (or Solstice) Chandelier was born. And I am not looking back! Next year I hope to get it together in time to create a complete how-to guide.
The party menu consisted of a wide variety of small bites (below) washed down with (naturally) a big bowl of classy punch. The punch of choice was Royal Pomme Punch, a blood orange, apple jack, and champagne punch that works great for holiday parties.
- Chèvre, lavender honeycomb, and sage crostini - the honeycomb was carted all of the way back from the south of France last summer, making it extra special
- Pickled walnut, cheddar, and fresh chervil crostini
- Lamb meatballs with fermented beet relish
- Rosemary marcona almonds
- Deviled eggs with crispy prosciutto
- Buckwheat hazelnut shortbread
- Cardamom dark chocolate truffles