Winter Solstice Tweet Hearts

Today is the shortest day of the year. It is known as the Winter Solstice and marks the day when the sun shifts and starts to move northward again. This is the time to celebrate the renewal of the earth. Branches of pine, cedar, and juniper are commonly used as a symbol and bring wonderful fragrances into the house. Red candles are used to symbolize the fire and heat of the returning sun as the days begin to lengthen. In Europe, the tradition of the yule log* is celebrated on Winter Solstice. A special log is brought in and placed on the hearth where it glows for the twelve nights of the holiday season. After that, it is kept in the house all year to protect the home and its inhabitants from illness and any adverse condition. Luminaria are also placed outside to light the way for travelers on the longest night of the year.

The longest night of the year also falls during the coldest part of the year. There is very little food available for wildlife to forage on, so to show our appreciation and concern for nature and its inhabitants we put out bird seed, berries, suet and bowls of water for our outdoor friends!

"Tweet Hearts:"
½ cup peanut butter
1 cup birdseed
2 ½ cups cornmeal
½ cup melted shortening (or suet)
muffin tin (greased or lined with paper cups)
pencil-sized sticks (popsicle sticks work fine)
yarn, string or ribbon

Combine the first four ingredients in a mixing bowl and stir together. Press mixture into a heart-shaped tin or cookie cutter. To create the hole for hanging stand a stick in the center of your bird cake and let the cakes stiffen, then remove sticks and thread string through muffins. Muffins can then be tied to a branch outside your favorite window.

*The yule log is the counterpart of the midsummer bonfires, which are held outdoors on Summer Solstice to celebrate the shortest night of the year.