Winter Solstice Celebration
Happy Winter Solstice! For the northern hemisphere, it's the shortest day (and longest night) of the year, and marks the end of autumn and the official start of winter.
Winter solstice is traditionally known as an ancient pagan holiday characterized by rituals and traditions that celebrate nature. Today, amidst the commercialization of winter holidays, it's the perfect opportunity to go inward, give thanks to the earth, and set intentions for your coming year.
Here are some wonderful, customary ways to celebrate this powerful threshold day and night and usher in the return of the light.
Build a Yule Altar
Honor the return of the sun by creating a yule altar. The most significant item you’ll need is a candle, which represents the return of the sun. Ideally it will be gold-, silver-, or yellow-hued and will take center stage of your altar. Surround it with talismans of winter, such as boughs of pomegranates, and pinecones. In ancient pagan cultures, evergreens represented protection and prosperity. Use winter evergreens like pine, fir, juniper, and cedar to make a wreath to hang at your altar. Cleanse the altar with sage or sweetgrass.
Winter is the time of year most suited for cultivating growth and inner peace. Take time on the longest night to reflect on the year that has passed and set intentions for what you want to bring forth in the new year. Create a cozy, quiet meditation spot where you won’t be disturbed and visit it for a daily meditation until the new year.
Go for a Ski
Nothing says Winter celebration like a peaceful ski on a nordic trail. Bring your dog and a flask of hot cocoa and soak in the silence of Winter outdoors.
Burn a Yule Log
The Nordic tradition of burning the yule log was historically done with an entire tree, and was meant to burn for the entire 12 days of Christmas. The tree was carefully chosen and brought into the house with great ceremony. The largest end of the log was placed into the hearth while the rest of the tree stuck out into the room and the log would be lit from the remains of the previous year's log (which had been stored for this occasion). Keep it practical yet cozy and ceremonial with one log. Sit by the fire until the log has burned (watching fire is incredibly meditative and purifying!).
Outdoor Winter Markets
The practice of holiday gifting has its roots in a winter solstice tradition of exchanging gifts. Traditional solstice gifts come from nature. Hit your local outdoor markets and give a small handmade wreath, beautiful crystals, a candle, or dried herbs. (And if that’s not practical, go ahead and shop Plastic-free.)
The winter solstice is a time to commune with the natural world. If none of these are doable for you, taking time to be in nature is plenty celebration enough. We hope your solstice is full of magic.
image credit: Laura Nyhuis