How to throw a Solstice Party, Montaninavian style

December 21 | Guest post by Sarah
My Yule decorations. (I'm it classy, we have some fairly gruesome photos of a burnt pig from years past.)
My Yule decorations. (I also have some fairly gruesome photos of a burnt pig from years past.)

Sometimes when I mention how into the Winter Solstice I am, I get some looks. I can almost hear the thoughts: "Ohhhh, yeah. That explains why she also eats quinoa patties." or "Her hair is always long and a little scraggly." or even "Is she Wiccan? Wow!"

But my love of the Winter Solstice has nothing to do with Wicca and everything to do with the fact that I am a badass Montanan of Scandinavian heritage. And I have been getting my Yule on since 1995.

Here is my guide for throwing a party for this kind of Solstice. I've grouped party ideas by age, but you can borrow from any category.

How to throw a Montaninavian Solstice party when you're in your…

TEENS
Find a large, secluded yard/side-of-mountain and dig a large pit. Get a local farmer or butcher to kill and dress a pig for you. Without any real research or forethought, attempt to roast the pig in the pit you just dug complete with a Viking-esque lighting of the pit fire with a flaming arrow to protest Eternal Darkness.

The flaming arrow part is definitely the trickiest. Turns out, you need more than drenching your fire pit in gasoline and more than an arrow wrapped in a gasoline drenched rag. You need homemade napalm and some tampons. I will leave the rest to you since *disclaimer* this whole endeavor is actually a very, very bad idea and you can get really hurt doing it.

Don't worry about other food or beverages or activities. I'm sure you'll think of something. Be sure to invite EVERYONE.

EARLY-TO-MID TWENTIES
OMG, you have, like, your own apartment! And there's a futon in it and a kitchen! Time to officially invite friends over for Solstice night.

Make snacks: Since you now live in a city in an apartment, the pig pit is out. But Solstice pretzels are delicious. Shape them into a pagan cross shape to celebrate the four seasons for extra ancient-ness. To be more Montaninavian, make some delicious bison Swedish meatballs. If you are employed at a salary commensurate with your experience (unlikely), splurge on some smoked salmon and crackers, too.

Make drinks: You can buy alcohol on your own now but it's soooo expensive. Make it last by creating an extremely potent glőgg. Take everyone's keys away for safety. Keep the back door open for potential puking. Also, make friends bring more drinks. They'll usually oblige. Whenever you drink, say Skål and reminisce about your flaming arrow incident.

LATE TWENTIES-EARLY THIRTIES
You're growing up, and people who've been coming to your Solstice for a while or heard the arrow story have some expectations, but now you're pregnant, or have a baby, or a dog that jumps at loud noises, or a job that requires you to get up early, or a history of hangovers that makes the alcoholic nature of this event more intimidating.

It's time to procure either a place with a fireplace and/or one of those outdoor fire pit thingies and transition your party to either a cozy fireplace party (smaller numbers, less tolerance of extreme drunkenness) and/or an outdoor party (to help dog/baby/early sleepers).

Get a Yule log for the fire. You can make it yourself, or just get regular wood and call it a Yule log.

Here's a twist. Get some holly, too for something that's still Scandinavian but, okay, a little New Agey. Get enough for each of your guests to get a branch or two. I, um, forage some from neighbors' yards, but you may have to buy some from a local flower shop or grocery store.

Traditionally, Scandinavians burn holly in the Yule log fire to burn away sorrows from the year. Sorrows can be small or large, trivial or profound. They're private like birthday wishes. Over the years, my friends and I have burned away everything from bad hair days, to bad traffic, bad relationships, heartbreaking miscarriages, near-fatal illnesses, and deaths of our fathers, sisters and friends.

Your friends should do this cathartic therapy on a full stomach. Do you eat local now? I'll bet… me, too! Keep the glőgg, pretzels and the meatballs, but now make your eats reflect your region. Add homemade schnapps or aquavit (be sure to allow at least two weeks for your flavors to percolate).

MID-THIRTIES-FIFTYISH
Same as above, but make it potluck.

MID-FIFTIES-SEVENTYISH
Did you downsize to a condo? Do you have, like, your own apartment?! Is there a futon and a kitchen in it? You are so set.

Buy snacks — some pretzels, deli meatballs, and smoked salmon should do.

Buy or make drinks, and whenever you drink, say Skål and reminisce about your flaming arrow incident.

SEVENTY +
Find a large, secluded yard/side-of-mountain and dig a large pit. Get a local farmer or butcher to kill and dress a pig for you. Light that pit on fire with a flaming arrow because you are a Sage, a Viking Elder whose awesomeness cannot be contained. Protest Eternal Darkness.

P.S. Invite no one.

  1. Want to do this. I think my pagan mother-in-law would have a blast, as well as everyone one else I know.

    2 agree
  2. .. oh my god, this post only got better as it went on. The end had me laughing really hard. I look forward to being 70+ and lighting a firepit with a flaming arrow. That's my new retirement goal. In .. forty-four years. Look out, pig. I'm comin' for ya.

    23 agree
  3. A printed copy of this will be my christmas card to my mother this year. Thank you!

    2 agree
  4. I just spit apple on my work computer I was laughing so hard – I can't wait to be 70+ and pull this off. Thanks for the inspiration.

    1 agrees
  5. Best holiday celebration guide EVER! Thank you!

    0 agree
  6. This was great. I can't wait to be 70, because I apparently missed the flaming-arrow-gravel-pit-pig-roast thing the first time around.

    2 agree
  7. My Viking does a giant Jul party every year at the family farm. There's a bonfire and some kegs and magical late night walks through orchards filled with mist. Last year they roasted a whole pig which he slaughtered himself. This year I think it's sheep.

    Scandinavians throw the best parties.

    4 agree
  8. This is funny. Just want to acknowledge that first.
    Second, I need a Yule log and holly apparently. The idea of physically burning sorrows from the last year sounds very very good. Cathartic. Such a good word.

    4 agree
  9. I am loving this post. Certainly gives me options as to what to do next year for Solstice, leaning towards the burning of sorrows version. Thank you from a Montana girl.

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  10. Viking Elders FTW!

    I just wanted to say that in Spain the burning of sorrows is done in St. John's bonfires at the beach, on June 24th (you write them down, burn the paper, and then jump over the fire). I love solstice rituals!!

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  11. So what does it mean that my birthday is on the winter solstice? Should I be wiccan?

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  12. Not only am I a Native Montanan, but a diehard plant geek . I LOVE the solstice because it is the time when all the plants start to reboot and start anew, regardless of how crappy it is outside, or inside, or anywhere. All begins again on the solstice. Party on!

    0 agree

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