Celebrating Solstice


The December solstice occurs when the sun reaches its most southerly position on December 21st. It signifies the turning point in the calender, as it marks the shortest day, with just under eight hours of daylight in London, fewer if you are further north. The solstice has played an important role in cultures worldwide from ancient times, with many seasonal celebrations including Christmas closely linked to its observance.  The tradition of lighting fires signifies the rebirth of the sun.  In fact the word Yule comes from the  Anglo-Saxon word for the festival of the Winter Solstice, 'Iul' meaning 'wheel', see Selvedge issue 37 page 96 Burning candles can be a great way to celebrate the solstice and lighten a dark day. I love our naturally scented beeswax beehive candles £18. They are hand dipped in Cumbria, sold in pairs joined at the wick and burn for around 40 hours - they make a perfect Secret Santa surprise or Stocking Filler that has universal appeal. [caption id="attachment_9544" align="alignleft" width="600"]Beeswax candles from £4 Beeswax candles from £4[/caption] For a special friend there is nothing better than an Astier de Villatte scented candle £60 to take him or her on a virtual journey to a magical place. A journey that can go from the heady streets of Alger with its million scents: white campion, privit and jasmine, then on a boat loaded with spices and citrus fruit, slowly crossing the bay in Hong Kong, before arriving at Mantes la Jolie’s aromatic herb market. The challenge is daunting: to capture in a candle the real aromas and the imaginary scents of emblematic places around the world.  The alchemy takes place at the Takasago laboratories in Japan, where designers, Ivan Pericoli, Benoît Astier de Villatte and Emilie Mazeaud, meet Françoise Caron, a celebrated perfumier, and her team of young ‘noses’. The result is a collection of scented vegetable wax candles, each with a delicate aroma of its own. These are the only candles I use, the scents have a delicacy hard to find elsewhere. The candles themselves are made by a master chandler in the south of France who has perfected the art of wax preparation, by processing only the finest ingredients: soy oil, plant extracts and a tad of beeswax and leaving out the paraffin and petrochemical by-products found in other scented candles. Quiet glass containers, handblown in Tuscany, complete the ensemble - these are great to recycle  - I use my as water glasses, pencil pots, and to hold cotton buds in the bathroom.  The labels and wrapping papers are printed by Monsieur Huin, the last remaining typesetter in France.  Astier de Villatte’s candles benefit from his savoir-faire and this in itself is a revolution. [caption id="attachment_9545" align="alignleft" width="600"]Astier de Villatte scented candle - Delhi £60 Astier de Villatte scented candle - Delhi £60[/caption]  

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