The winter solstice occurs on the day that we are furthest from the sun’s light. It is the shortest day and the longest night of the year.
The solstice usually occurs on the 21st or 22nd of December in the Northern Hemisphere, while those in the southern hemisphere celebrate the summer solstice. The winter solstice falls 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 towards them again.
Solstice celebrations were created to celebrate the return of the sun. Many contemporary holiday traditions, including Christmas, were borrowed from these ancient solstice celebrations.
Ways to Celebrate the Winter Solstice
Below you will find a list of things you can do to celebrate the winter solstice. If you live in the southern hemisphere and are celebrating the summer solstice see Celebrate the Summer Solstice.
The primary intention of many winter solstice celebrations is to release the dark in favor of the light–the old in favor of the new–and to welcome back the light as each new day begins to grow longer and longer.
Some of these suggestions are individual ways to celebrate while others can be done with family and friends. Feel free to do as many as you’d like or none at all. Create something meaningful for you and your family and you can’t go wrong.
Update: This list now contains 17 ways to Celebrate!
1. Make a Winter Solstice Tree
Many people make a winter solstice tree by hanging food to feed the animals when their food supplies have become scarce on the winter solstice.
- Making a Winter Solstice Tree | 95 Acres of Sky for Playful Learning
- Decorating an Outdoor Edible Tree for the Animals | Wilder Child
- Outdoor Winter Solstice Ice Ornaments | Little Bins for Little Hands
2. Make Solstice Lanterns
3. Make Orange Pomanders
Make orange pomanders to decorate and freshen the home on the solstice for the holidays. The orange is a symbol for the return of the sun.
- How to Make Orange Pomanders | Homemade Gifts Made Easy
- Make an Orange Pomander Centerpiece that Lasts! | Eclectically Vintage
4. Read Books about the Winter Solstice
Read winter solstice books to your kids to help them understand the solstice and the cyclical nature of the seasons.
5. Make Sun Ornaments
Make sun and or star ornaments to hang on your Christmas Tree to symbolize the return of the sun’s light.
- Dehydrated Orange Sun Wheel Ornaments | The Ditzy Druid
- How to Make a Mini Felt Sun | Bugs and Fishes
6. Stay Up All Night
Some people celebrate by staying up all night on the night of the solstice to be awake to welcome back the light.
7. Spend the Evening by Candlelight
Many people choose to not use electricity on the night of the solstice and instead enjoy the darkest night of the year by candlelight.
8. Have a Candlelight Solstice Feast
Invite friends and family over for a candlelight feast! Eat, drink, and be merry! Following are some traditional food and drink ideas:
- Winter Solstice Yule Recipes | Autumn Earth Song
- Winter Solstice Brew | Sidewalk Shoes
- Winter Wassail (Spiked and unspiked) | Raising Generation Nourished
9. Enjoy a Yule Log
A yule log is a special log that is burned on the night of the winter solstice. Traditionally the fire is kept burning all night long to bring light to the darkest night of the year and to help re-ignite the Sun. A piece of last year’s yule log was often saved to help ignite the next years.
For a modern spin on this old tradition try the New Yule Log Christmas Tradition by Natalie Bradley.
Yule log cakes were made by those that did not have a hearth to burn one. A few recipes can be found below.
- Yule Log | Cookies on Nigella
- Buche de Noel with Marzipan Mushrooms | Epicurious
- Gluten Free Yule Log | Gluten Free and More
- Nutmeg Yule Log Cookies | Woman’s Day
You can also fire up this yule log on Amazon Prime (affiliate), The Merry Yule Log or get the following DVD (affiliate). The Yule Log – Christmas by the Fireplace. You’d be surprised how lovely these TV fireplaces are in the home for the holidays!
10. Reflect, Release and Let Go
Write down everything that you would like to release and let go of, onto scraps of paper. Once done throw them in the fire and allow the flames to transform the darkness into light.
Having a solstice gathering? Invite your guest to join you in this activity.
11. Set Intentions
After releasing what is no longer serving you write down your intentions. Fill the space with what you want to create in your life.
Think of an intention as things, ideas, or habits that you would like to bring into your life. I like to spend the time between winter solstice and the new year creating resolutions in the form of goals for the new year.
12. Practice Yoga and/or Meditate
The Winter Solstice is the shortest day and the longest night of the year. The darkness is thus greater than the light. Bring light to the darkest of days by practicing yoga and/or meditating on the light within each of us.
13. Begin Something New
Solstices and equinoxes are a great time to let go of the old and begin fresh. As the temperatures get colder and people begin to spend more time indoors it is a great time to begin a new project.
- Make a list of everything you’ve been wanting to do.
- Pick your top three choices.
- Make a plan to start one and go from there. Don’t know where to start? See Creating Positive Habits.
14. Enjoy Seasonal Arts, Crafts & Activities
Creating winter arts, crafts, and activities is a great way to welcome the season. Here are a few to get you started.
- Top 10 Winter Art Projects
- Fairly Winter Wonderland Small World
- Rhinestone Pinecones
- All Season Hand Print Tree – This all season hand and fingerprint tree is a great activity to do with your child to introduce the idea of seasonal changes. Feel free to do all seasons or just a winter tree.
- I have lots more that I will be publishing soon. Be sure you sign up for my newsletter below!
15. Add Seasonal Decor to your Home
- Decorate your home with seasonal decor and the seasonal crafts above to welcome the winter season.
- Winter Nature Table
16. Establish a Daily Rhythm
Establishing a rhythm will help you get organized and provide a framework for your day. It will help your start fresh this season and find room to manifest your new intentions. Children also thrive on rhythm in the home. See Establishing a Daily Rhythm for more information.
17. Get Outside & Connect
Get outside and connect with what matters on the equinox. You can start by searching for signs of winter. For more outside activities and information about the Get Outside & Connect Series click on the link.
There are many ways to celebrate the winter solstice. Create something meaningful for you and your family and you can’t go wrong.
For more ideas see How to Celebrate the Winter Solstice from Rain or Shine Mamma.
You may also Like
- Celebrate the Summer Solstice
- 11 ways to Celebrate the Fall Autumnal Equinox
- 7 Ways to Celebrate the Spring Equinox
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