On arriving in Borås last Sunday after our trip to England, the city had decorated for Jul and was a sea of illuminated paper stars. It was so beautiful I could have spent the whole night drifting through the streets, taking in the gentle light at almost every window. In England we have a bad habit of going horribly overboard with the decorations. The Swedes, on the other hand, keep things simple.
I always look forward to when the sun dips below the horizon at the end of another day, but now it’s another, special kind of anticipation. I’m waiting for the glow from the stars in the windows of the apartment block just across the way from us. They will light up the nights until January.
Our own decorating has been delayed…but today I started in my own little way, by making an orange clove pomander. For as long as I can remember, my Mum has made these most fragrant of decorations around this time, and they’ve always been my favourite winter adornment. I’ve forever been weak for the intense, spicy, warming scent of cloves combined with the sweet, fruity, lush perfume of oranges, and seen as though this is my first Jul away from England, I thought it important I continue the tradition myself.
I’m admiring my pomander now, nestled among some evergreen and pine cones which I collected from the forest earlier today. I’m reflecting on how much I enjoyed the slow crafting process, when I was focused on nothing but carefully pressing one clove after another through the giving skin and flesh of the orange. I hadn’t felt so relaxed in months. As a Pagan, bringing the natural world into the home all year round is important, but especially so in winter when I pay homage to the old traditions that celebrate my most favourite time of year.