Celebrating Winter Solstice

I have always been drawn to the natural rhythm of the changing seasons.  As the sun follows it’s yearly track, I can see nature’s changes reflected in my own life and rhythms of home and family.  Winter Solstice, the first day of Winter and the longest day of the year, marks a special time of year for me.

As the days have grown darker and colder, and the winter stretches on ahead, I love to turn Winter Solstice into a celebration of light.  On this darkest day of the year, I find myself ready to shed some of the darkness that has crept into my life through the year and make room to welcome the light.  I am grateful for the earth’s cues that it is time to cross over into a new cycle, a new season of living.

Below are photos and ideas for celebrating Winter Solstice from our family celebrations in years past. 

Invite the Light

Turn off your electricity and use nature’s light.  On winter solstice, we use candles to light the darkness. It’s a simple way to connect with nature, but it makes the light feel so special. 

Make a fire.  We cook over the fire and spend the evening gathered round it. 

Activity:   Gather round an outdoor bonfire. Write down something you would like to bring light to in the coming year, then toss it into the bonfire and watch the light consume it.

Connect with Nature

Get outdoors and notice all that has changed in preparation for the winter days ahead.  We take a walk on the mesa, down by the river, in the mountains to welcome winter.

Measure your shadow.  At noon stand outside and measure your shadow.  Make note of the length, the date, the time, and place.  Repeat this on March 21, June 21, and September 21 and see how it changes with the seasons.

Watch the sunrise and sunset.

Give a gift to the earth.  This can be as simple as scattering bird seed or hanging popcorn and cranberries for the birds and squirrels. 

Bring the outdoors in.  Decorate with rosemary, holly, ivy, fir.  Nature always knows just how to dress for the occasion. 

Connect with the past

Since the beginning of time on earth, humans have marked the crossing from dark to light.  Winter Solstice, and the traditions that come with it, come from our ancestors.

Do you know why Christians celebrate Christ’s birth in December even though it actually happened in the spring?  Do you know why Muslims begin Ramadan after the sighting of the crescent moon in the ninth lunar month?  Do you know how the Romans celebrated winter solstice over 2000 years ago and how remarkably similar their traditions were to our winter holiday traditions today? 

Find the answers to these questions and explore the science and history behind the solstice. 

Check out these books:


Have a celebration

We like to deliver our holiday gifts to friends and neighbors on this special day – we are solstice elves of a sort. 

Gather with friends and family at the end of the day to welcome the return of the light.  Feast and sing around a fire.

Make a yule log – decorate a log with evergreen, pinecones, berries, etc. – and as you burn it, express your gratitude for the past year and your hopes for the year ahead.

Happy Winter Solstice friends!  May your days and homes be filled with love and light.   

Do you celebrate the Winter Solstice? 
What are some of your winter holiday traditions? 
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