Winter Solstice Traditions: How to Celebrate This Holiday Season

For those who are spiritual but not so religious, you may choose to celebrate the December holiday season differently. The winter solstice is a wonderful way to honor your ancestors, the earth and its creatures, and the birth of a new sun during this special time of year. 

So what exactly is this ancient holiday, and how do you celebrate the winter solstice? Spoonful of Comfort answers these questions and offers some new-to-you winter solstice traditions that you and your loved ones can embrace.

What Is the Winter Solstice Holiday?

Earth experiences the winter solstice when the shortest and darkest day of the year passes and a new, longer day begins. In 2021, for the Northern Hemisphere, the exact time for this change is December 21 at 10:59 a.m. Eastern Standard Time.

Why Is the Winter Solstice Celebrated?

Winter solstice celebrations have been going on for thousands of years all around the world—some still celebrate it now. The sentiment acknowledges the fading of darkness and the forming of new light, shedding the past and ushering in a hopeful future.

Winter Solstice Traditions: How to Celebrate This Holiday Season

7 Traditions to Try: How to Celebrate the Winter Solstice 

No worries if you haven’t celebrated the winter solstice before and don’t know where to start. Winter solstice traditions don’t require you to rush about fighting the Christmas crowds. There’s no need to live up to anyone else’s expectations of the season. You don’t need to spend unreasonable amounts of money (or any at all) trying to please others.  

This holiday is all about appreciating the natural world, enjoying serenity in your heart, and loving your ancestors, your family, and yourself. If you feel up to trying a few winter solstice traditions, here are some ideas for your consideration. 

1. Share a Winter Feast

This sounds elaborate—and it can be if you like—but the point of this tradition is to gather your closest loved ones to share a simple meal that showcases the earth’s rebirth.

A traditional winter solstice meal focuses on nuts, berries, squash, soup, and goose or deer if you want to add meat to the menu. The traditional drink is hot mulled cider or tea.

2. Create a Candlelight Circle

Form a circle with your friends and family and give each person a candle. Everyone takes a turn lighting their candle with a match while attuning to the others in the circle. 

Reflect during this moment and contemplate the gratitude you have for each other. Then each person takes a turn blowing out their candle. Stay a moment in the darkness to contemplate your ancestors, to whom you are also grateful.  

3. Share Family Folklore 

The passing on of stories has been a tradition since the beginning of time. Put on some cozy socks and snuggle up together under a fuzzy blanket as everyone shares memories—and makes new ones. 

If you don’t have any family folklore of your own, it’s perfectly fine to borrow some books about Norse mythology from your local library.

4. Perform a Smudge

The traditional practice of burning dried herbs in your home (called smudging) is said to heal, cleanse, and restore positive energy. 

Make your own smudge by gathering, drying, tying together, and lighting herbs and flowers in a small bowl. Another option is to buy an herbal smudge kit that already contains everything you need.

5. Take a Sunrise Hike

There’s nothing quite like getting up before dawn and hiking to the perfect sunrise spot. Along the way, appreciate the way the darkness heightens your senses. What do you smell? Listen to the world slowly wake up. What do you hear? When you reach your destination, watch the sun slowly rise over the horizon. What do you feel? 

After the sun is up, take out a journal and write down your thoughts so you can reflect on them again later. If writing isn’t for you, perhaps a Moments of Mindfulness coloring book is more your style. 

6. Play Music

Music has always played a significant role in winter solstice traditions. Chances are, you’ve got an instrument or two lying around your home just gathering dust. 

Ring in the rising of the new sun by grabbing your guitar, keyboard, drum, or bell and making music that brings joy and solace to the soul. Alternatively, put on a Celtic playlist and do some dancing.

7. Give Self-Care

This time of year can get hectic, even when you’re trying to get back to basics. Recenter yourself with an evening of self-care. 

Use a scented lotion, lip balm, and candle to calm your senses. Afterward, you’ll be more present with yourself and able to be present with others as well.

Some Winter Solstice Gift Ideas

If you’d like to celebrate the winter solstice with a gift, these traditions can inspire related ideas—or read another of our articles here. Wishing you peace and comfort this winter. We’ll be celebrating with you on December 21st!

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