Probably the most well know tradition of Imbolc is spring cleaning. It can sound a little funny to be thinking about spring in January but this is how it happens.
In North America season changes are connected to the equinoxes and solstices, spring starts on the vernal equinox, somewhere around March 20/21.
Imbolc has a Celtic history and the seasons change a little earlier, in tune with what is happening outside. Still today mid summer fairs are held across the United Kingdom around June 15th, before summer has even “officially” started in North America. I live on the west coast of Canada and am fortunate that our weather fits nicely into a Celtic calendar. Snowdrops and daffodils, some of the first indicators of spring are often up by Imbolc and in bloom by mid February if they don’t get covered in a last bit of snowfall. Seasons are thought of differently, starting four to six weeks earlier.
If you happen to still be ankle deep in snow, I promise your time is coming. The wheel of the year is about your connection with your land and adjustments are allowed.
In today’s world, there is wider access to the wonderful world of citrus season also happening at this time of the year. Opening the windows to blow out the cobwebs and freshen the air can be a little chilly right now. If that is the case for you, bringing the tangy aroma of orange to the spring cleaning is one alternative way of freshening your home.
Label and pen
My step-mother looks forward to this season. She thoroughly enjoys the sweet juiciness of navel oranges in season. Her mother used to peel and section them for her as a little girl, when any orange was a special treat. Something I do for her these days.
I like to pop one in a smoothie every so often but feel sad when the peel ends up in the compost.
Zesting is one solution. Preserving the zested peel in sugar and storing it in a jar in the fridge gives access to the lovely flavour all year round.
Marmalade is another option but if getting away from sugar after the holidays sounds like a good idea, try infusing vinegar instead.
It can be just as easily made from lemons, limes, other varieties of oranges or a combination of citrus fruits.
Once it has sat for two weeks, you may decide to double infuse the vinegar in order to punch up the intensity.
Here is a link to 28 uses for vinegar, many of which will work with an infused vinegar, including a hair rinse.
Wash the oranges you are going to use for this project under warm running water, using a soft, sanitized brush. Cut the orange, getting out the “good stuff” to enjoy.
Your jar does not need to look like those beautiful Italian stuffed fruit and vegetable jars. The ones that suggest a degree in advanced shipping building in a bottle was needed before commencement.
Just don’t over pack your jar. Leave enough room for the vinegar.
This picture shows plain white vinegar and that is what I would suggest you use. Fill to within a 1/4 inch of the top.
I also used white vinegar to fill my jar. Mine however had been dyed red and you can see it in the first picture above. It was something that was needed for a project making dishwasher cubes and I am slowly using up the leftover vinegar. This seemed like a useful, good way to get rid of another few ounces.
Place a layer of parchment between the vinegar and the metal lid before screwing the lid down. Label so you will know when the time is up and store in a cool dark place for two weeks, turning up and down and shaking every so often. As the orange soaks up the vinegar it might be good to add a few more tablespoons of vinegar to the bottle.
When ready, drain the vinegar through a sieve with a layer of paper towel or thick cheese cloth. The little pieces that the paper catches can plug a spray bottle system.
Transfer the filtered vinegar into a non metal spritz bottle and add an equal amount of clean water.
Use as a final finish on countertops, backsplashes, appliances, toys, doorknobs, bathroom porcelain and anything else that strikes your fancy.
Your home and nose will love you.