Last year, shortly after bringing our Christmas tree home, it became apparent that it would lose all of its needles inside, and although we tried to save it, cutting off another sliver of the truck, after losing another round of needles, we moved the tree outside.
I’d also been researching different ways to celebrate the Winter Solstice, and how my Anglo-ancestors might have celebrated Yule, and the return of the sun, before they celebrated Christmas, and came across an article about Pagan Yuletide Greenery. I loved the idea of decorating our outdoor tree with natural decorations from an era gone by, and thus my simple Natural Christmas began.
I foraged for decorations while on my daily dog walks, finding plenty of ivy, bittersweet and berries on branches in abandoned lots around my neighborhood. I also found plenty of acorns, pine cones and fallen greens scattered along the curb under various fir trees and pines. I added pine roping and made swags from the branches we’d cut off our Christmas Tree when we placed it in the stand.
Soon I added twinkle lights to illuminate the longest and darkest nights of the year. Before we knew it, our back deck had turned into a magical new addition, like we had a new outdoor room! My dog Maj loved sitting out on the deck, and even posed for me framed by the lights!
After that, I decided to decorate the front porch too!
We celebrated the Winter Solstice with a bonfire and candlelight, before traveling to be with family on Christmas day.
It seemed that the only thing missing from our simple Natural Christmas was snow! As luck would have it, on the final day of Christmas, Twelfth Night, we had our first snowfall of the year, and our back yard was turned into a festive winter wonderland.
Finally, when it was time to take everything down, I decided to continue with the pagan ritual of saving the holiday greens to burn later in the year, so our simple Natural Christmas story ended in a beautiful bonfire, scented with the smell of greens, perfect for roasting our meal in the coals.
Although I had hoped to explore another year of natural ornaments for the holidays, I spent the beginning of the month under the weather, and decided to forgo decorations this year. I did set up a simple set of pretty votive candles with a few found pinecones in our family room for just a hint of festivities. Next week, I intend to jump two-feet first into planning out 2016, before ringing in the New Year with friends.
I hope everyone has been enjoying the holiday season so far – whatever you celebrate – be it Hanukkah, Christmas or Yule!