Celebrating the Winter Solstice

December 19, 2018


Our family is still relatively young and our children are just six and eight years old. So we are still developing the lifelong traditions we hope will call our family home to each other as they get older and grow little families of their own. 

I think having yearly holiday traditions is a variety of romance and is important to continue bringing us together to be rooted in our family, make memories together and enjoy the holidays in a way that speaks to our family with the Winter Solstice.

Before I get into what we do to celebrate the Winter Solstice, I wanted to briefly go over what it means to us because it wasn't long ago that I didn't know the significance of it.


What is the Winter Solstice?

The Winter Solstice usually occurs on December 21st, around Christmas time, or astronomically, the first day of winter. Up until this day, the amount of daylight lessens in the Northern Hemisphere. The Winter Solstice is when the short days begin to grow longer until the Summer Solstice when the days begin to shorten again. 

The Winter Solstice traditions naturally happen in the darkest, most dead days of the year and is a pivotal day for the earth. At our darkest, most dreary days we celebrate to welcome and encourage the light to return, and the end of the long dark nights.


Our Winter Solstice Traditions..

Evergreen Tree

Together we bring evergreens into our home at the darkest time of the year to celebrate the Winter Solstice in the form of a tree.

In ancient times, families would find a large tree and cut it down to be dragged to the home. The top would then be cut off and displayed with handmade decorations and the lower branches were harvested to be used as garland around windows and doors of the home.

Evergreen is said to represent life in the midst of all of the death, and by bringing it in our home we welcome the return of light which ultimately, returns life in the form of a fertile spring.


Handmade Decorations

We surround ourselves with certain objects and decorate our home with things that represent the sun and light. In the past we have dried orange slices to make an Orange Garland but you could also make paper stars or star ornaments out of sticks or clay. Also we dress the tree with start ornaments and balls that resemble orbs of light!

Advent Calendar

We have a traditional Christmas Advent Calendar that my mother-in-law made when my husband was a child. Each Day the children get to place a decoration onto the fabric Christmas Tree.

As our children are growing older, we have decided to pass this on to another younger child in the family but am looking forward to making our own advent calendar to celebrate the 13 days of Solstice, from the night before the Solstice (December 20th) to the beginning of the new year (January 1st).

Rather than counting down to one day of indulgence, gift giving and expecting gifts from others, we will have various fun and celebratory events spread throughout the 13 days of Solstice.


Light

Traditionally the Winter Solstice is celebrated with a bonfire but we just never have lived in an area where that would be permitted, so we use a lot of twinkle lights inside the home.

We celebrate the return of the light by lighting candles or stringing lights around the tree. Yes, just like a Christmas Tree. You could also make your own Beeswax Candles as they have a golden colour to them similar to the sun.

Dinner Feast

Like any other celebration there is a feast that happens! To celebrate the end of the darks days we usually cook roast a turkey, eat seasonal vegetables like Roasted Parmesan Carrots and Garlic Mashed Potatoes.

I also love to bake with my children in the days prior and whip up some Chewy Chocolate Chip Cookies, Real Hot Cocoa and Cranberry Orange Muffins!


Releasing Ceremony

I have grown to love and appreciate this ritual that is generally left for the adults. I find it wonderful for my mental health during the dark days.

We take an evening to reflect on our year and on a piece of paper we write down the things, the emotions or the feelings we want to leave behind in the darkness. These could be regrets, grudges or disappointments to release and start with a clean slate in the new year. We then symbolically burn the piece of paper and release them.

There are many other things we do together as a family during this time of the year that aren't necessarily to celebrate the Winter Solstice but they are just as fun! We like to visit a nature park and hand feed the Chick-A-Dees, taking a winter drive to see the neighbourhood lights, tobogganing, building a snow man together, and many snow ball fights. It's like a mental Winter Bucket List!


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