December 22st is Winter Solstice — the first day of winter and the shortest day of the year. Celebrated by cultures across the globe for more than 6,000 years, it signifies the return of light and with it, life, renewal. If you are not particularly religious, or even of you are, and want to think outside the big box store, Winter Solstice celebrations are a meaningful way to gather with family and friends and honor the true spirit of the season. Here are some traditional ways to observe the shortest day of the year, and help your children connect with natures cycles. We have forgotten some of the simplicity of living, and seasonal rituals bring us back to simpler times.
Watch the sun set on the shortest day of the year, and welcome the return of longer and longer days until summer.
Use candles to illuminate your home, recalling a time when sun and fire were the only sources of light.
Decorate with found items from nature, such as evergreen and felled pinecones.
A small rosemary plant, used in early solstice celebrations as an “herb of the sun,” can make a nice gift for friends.
Have family members make a wish for the upcoming year while lighting a single candle. With each wish, the room grows brighter — a symbol of the light returning.
Go on an energy fast by lighting candles and spending the day without television, cell phones, computers or other non-essential appliances. (if you dare!)
Write letters to loved ones.
Set intentions for the upcoming year.
Build a bonfire and sing songs with a mug of wassail around the blaze.
Solstice celebrations don’t need to be complicated, overly serious affairs; a solstice ritual can be as relaxed and simple as sharing a potluck meal and having your guests share a funny story from the previous year.
Do you celebrate winter solstice?
For a lovely description of how one family spends winter solstice, read this post http://rhythmofthehome.com/archives/winter-2010/winter-solstice-traditions/
And, as my friends have heard me say many times before, Spring is just around the corner!