Celebrating the Winter Solstice: Family Time Together
Whatever you celebrate this season, we can all take the time to pause, reflect, and celebrate the winter solstice. The winter solstice, celebrated Dec 21, 2021 in the Northern Hemisphere, is the time of the astronomical year when the day is the shortest and the night is longest. Historically, it has been celebrated as the day that begins the lengthening of the daylight hours moving into spring. Read more about the Winter Solstice at National Geographic Kids. It is often celebrated in the yoga community as a time of quiet, care, and honoring the past year and the growth and change that has happened in our lives and world.
Your family can celebrate the solstice in a number of fun and meaningful ways! Listed, below, are a few that we enjoy with our own families!
1. Take a mindful walk
Traditionally, on the solstice, many celebrants walk an Advent or Solstice spiral. The spiral represents the astronomical, or celestial, creation of the seasons. Starting in a group, slowly begin walking, in single file, outward to form a spiral. Notice the sounds of your feet on the ground, the pressure of your steps, the smells in the air, the colors of nature, the energy of your family members. If you like, lay out a spiral with fallen leaves or stones to follow and mark your path. Leave the spiral for others to enjoy. Remember to only use items found in nature to honor the Earth. More about the spiral walk from the Waldorf School tradition can be found here.
2. Make Winter Solstice lanterns
The winter solstice is celebrated as a return of the sun, or the triumph of light over darkness. Winter Solstice lanterns are a fun and easy way to add a little light to your celebration. A few options for creating your own lanterns:
DIY Winter Solstice Lanterns/ EHow
Mason-Jar Lanterns/ Happy Hooligans
Or, make a simple lantern with a small paper bag, sand or pebbles for the bottom, and an electric tea light.
3. Decorate a winter solstice or yule tree
Our decoration of the Christmas tree comes from the celebration of the Winter Solstice. The star we often place upon the top of the tree represented the sun rising over the tree tops the morning AFTER the solstice in the ancient practices of yule. Another, similar, practice is decorating trees outdoors in order to both celebrate the changing of the earth's relationship with the sun, but also to help feed the animals that may find it difficult to find food during the colder months. You can find a number of easy and fun ways to create a "feeder tree" over at The Spruce.
4. Cuddle up with something warm to drink and someone you love and read
Reading is a common celebratory practice this time of year. Many traditions around the winter holidays center on the giving and receiving of books. The folks over at Rhythms of Play have come up with a great list of books for kids, here.
Whatever you do, try to take some mindful time today, tomorrow, later in the week to celebrate the fact that the year is slowing towards its end and spring will be coming again. Be mindful and savor as many moments as you can. Practice some self care, even if it is just reading with a cup of tea for a few minutes each day. This time of year is so hectic for so many... make purposeful choices to slow down.