Tuesday, December 18, 2012

Winter Solstice Celebration

Winter Solstice is the day that we have the least amount of sunlight all year.  Due to our position on the planet we are tilted the furthest from the sun around this time of year giving my community approximately six and a half hours of sunlight on this day.  Because of this, December 21st is often referred to as the “shortest day of the year”.  In reality there isn’t a time warp causing fewer hours in the day (though as I get older it seems every day has fewer hours in it), we just get less sun.  The good news…from now until the Summer Solstice – we continuously get more sun each day!  In about six months, there will only be about six hours of darkness each day!

With so much darkness around us, I like to celebrate the Winter Solstice and the coming of more sun.  Each year we do a little something to celebrate like crafts, baking, go sliding, just something.  Depending on our schedules, it could be a large celebration with friends and family, or something small with just the kids and I.  This year, we are making snow taffy and snowflake crafts!
Snow Taffy is a traditional French Canadian treat.  I remember doing this with my “Memere” (Grandmother) on warm winter days while we waited for the bread to rise.  I have so many fond memories in the kitchen with my Memere including Meat Pies – but I digress. 
We don’t have any maple trees around here so we don’t make Snow Taffy the traditional way which includes tapping a tree but it is good nonetheless.  It has been a few years since we’ve made Snow Taffy so it will be like new to R and I can’t wait to see his face when he tastes it – oh, and it’s gluten free!  If you would like to make it yourself but live in an area without snow, you can do this with crushed ice as well.

Photo Source: The Great Canadian Gift Company
Snow Taffy Syrup

1 cup Brown Sugar
¼ cup butter
¼ cup water
½ teaspoon vanilla
Popsicle sticks - optional

This part is for grown-ups and more experienced kitchen-helpers.  Place all the ingredients into a pot and boil it over medium-high heat.  Be careful, if this stuff splashes it burns fast and sticks to keep on burning.  Stirring constantly, bring the mixture to a hard boil.  Still stirring, allow the hard boil for about 2 minutes. 

During this time, have the kids go outside and collect CLEAN snow in a cookie sheet.

After the 2 minute hard boil, drizzle a little of the syrup onto the snow.  If the syrup is absorbed into the snow, it’s not ready.  Keep boiling and stirring.  Keep testing it until the syrup turns into taffy (soft caramel-like consistency) on the snow.  Then drizzle it over various parts of the snow.  It is cooled nearly instantly so you can then pick it up and eat it, or roll it around a spoon.  We use popsicle sticks to roll the taffy around like a taffy pop.  It's very sticky so I recommend using a spoon on popsicle stick.

The taffy is best eaten fresh but if you made more than you can eat, roll up extra strips and put them onto wax paper then store in the fridge.  Remember, the colder it is kept, the harder consistency it will be so don't leave it too long.

Since this is a French Canadian tradition, perhaps I will take this opportunity to talk to the kids about “L’Hiver” (winter) and maybe we’ll learn a French winter song.  Snowflake crafts can be found all over the internet and we selected this one from Pinterest.
Photo Source: Tainted IrIs

Will you be celebrating the Winter Solstice?  Leave me some comments on your plans for celebrating and some ideas for future winter celebrations for us.

 Take Care, D


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