The winter solstice occurs on the day that we are furthest from the sun’slight and thus marks the shortest day and the longest night of the year. The winter solstice generally occurs on the 21st or 22nd of December in the Northern Hemisphere, and on the 21st or 22nd of June in the Southern Hemisphere.
In ancient times, people grew afraid when each day had fewer hours of sunshine than the day before. They feared that one day there would be no daylight left. Over time, they realized that after this day each year the sun started moving toward them again.
Celebrating the Winter Solstice
There are many ways to celebrate the winter solstice, most of which include a meal with loved ones and a fire–or possibly a yule log–and lit candles or luminaries of some sort. Because we too are furthest from the sun, the primary intention is to release the dark in favor of the light–the old in favor of the new–and to welcome back the light as every new day now grows longer and longer.
Last year we brought Christmas gifts to our neighbors, 2 soy candles in beautiful square votive glasses. While giving gifts to our neighbors during the holidays is something we always do, last year we decided to give candles on the Winter Solstice in order to give the gift of light on the shortest day of the year.
My daughter loved pulling her little red wagon full of gifts around from house to house ringing the doorbell and standing in the doorway holding up a gift like a little angel. You can imagine how well she was received by each neighbor. It was heartwarming for me to watch.
Next, we built a fire at sundown, had a candlelight feast, and spent the night with the lights off. It was a lovely long dark night.