Winter is Coming! Celebrating the Winter Solstice

The darkest day of the year is near. There is a chill in the air and the sun is setting earlier in the day. It’s a sign that the winter solstice is right around the corner.

What is the Winter Solstice?

The winter solstice, also known as the first day of winter, falls on the 21st or 22nd of December every year. It is the shortest day of the day, while the summer solstice is the longest. And because of Earth’s regular rotation around the sun, the winter solstice marks when the earth’s axis is tilted furthest away from the sun. After the winter solstice, days start becoming longer and nights shorter as spring approaches.

Winter Solstice Has Been Celebrated Throughout Human History

Humans have observed the winter solstice as far back as the Stone Age beginning about 10,200 BC. For thousands of years civilizations around the world have welcomed the first day of winter with much fanfare and ritual. The ancient structure of Stonehenge is believed to have been a place of December Winter Solstice rituals during the Stone Age. In ancient Rome, there was a lot of drinking and gambling. Today, the winter solstice is celebrated in various ways. In certain parts of Japan, people eat kabocha squash for good luck and lit bonfires to “encourage the sun’s return.” In Scandinavia, the celebration of the winter solstice has been incorporated with the celebration of St. Lucia, a Christian martyr. For the celebration, girls typically wear white dresses and place wreaths of candles on their heads to honor St. Lucia.

Would you like to create your own winter solstice celebrations this year? Below are a few ideas to help you get started.

3 Winter Solstice Celebration Ideas

  1. Take time for reflection. With the weather getting colder and the sun setting earlier, there is more time for individuals to quietly reflect in the cozy indoors.For this winter solstice. Reflect on your past year. What have you achieved? What will you change for the new year?
  2. Bond with your kids. Looking for a bonding ritual to share with your kids? Winter Solstice is the celebration of fire and light. Get your tent out of the basement and have everyone participate in putting it up in your backyard or back porch. Everyone plan their favorite dish for a campfire meal. The kids may choose a can of beans, hot dogs or toasted marshmallows. Make it fun and creative. Eat by the fire, tell stories, play games, look at the stars or get in the tent and play games. You will be creating a celebration that will live in your family’s memories.
  3. Make time for sharing and playing. The winter solstice is also a great time for communing with others. This year, take a lesson from the Iranian festival Shab-e Yalda, “Night of Birth.” For their celebration of the longest night of the year, family and friends spend time together. They feast on nuts and fruits and read poetry through the night. You can host your own celebration with a few warm beverages and healthy snacks. You and your loved ones can take turns telling family stories and playing games