This Friday the 21st is the Winter Solstice, and I just discovered that in Japan they traditionally take a hot bath with Yuzu fruits on the Solstice (called TO-JI in Japan). Yuzu is a cold hardy Japanese citrus fruit, and looks like a small orange with a scent similar – but of course not quite the same – to a mix of grapefruit and mandarin. The essential oil of Yuzu is especially valued because although it is a top note, it has unique ‘staying’ power and does not dry out as quickly as other top notes. Like many citrus oils, Yuzu essential oil is emotionally uplifting, which makes it perfectly suited for a bath on the darkest day of the year. It also has strong antibacterial properties. The Yuzu bath, called Yuzuyu, is said to ward off winter colds and sickness and bring a general sense of well-being.
Hot springs and public baths put the whole fruit in the water on the Solstice, sometimes squeezing them to release their juices. The pictures I’ve been finding of bright fruits bobbing in the water are wonderfully fun and appealing this time of year.
Interestingly, my ‘Winter in Seattle‘ blend of bath salts seems to be very similar in spirit to the Yuzu Bath. The blend of citrus essential oils have strong emotionally uplifting qualities, but I also added the the base notes of fir and cedarwood, which are emotionally grounding. It’s sort of the Pacific Northwest version of the Yuzu bath, and I’ll be incorporating it into my Winter Solstice celebrations this Friday.
Other Japanese customs for the Solstice include eating pumpkin and walking through fire. I’m just incorporating the bath this year though. Maybe I can explore walking through fire next year?
Do you have any traditions for celebrating the Solstice?