“The Winter Solstice is unique among days of the year — the time of the longest night and the shortest day. The dark triumphs but only briefly. For the Solstice is also a turning point. From now on (until the Summer Solstice, at any rate), the nights grow shorter and the days grow longer, the dark wanes and the Sun waxes in power. From the dark womb of the night, the light is born.
Many of the customs associated with the Winter Solstice (and therefore with other midwinter festivals such as St Lucy’s Day, Saturnalia, Hanukkah, New Years and Twelfth Night) derive from stories of a mighty battle between the dark and the light, which is won, naturally, by the light. Other traditions record this as the time a savior (the Sun-Child) is born to a virgin mother.” (schooloftheseasons.com)
Ways to Celebrate Winter Solstice
The Solstice Evergreen
An ancient midwinter custom is to decorate with greens. The Romans decorated with rosemary, bay, laurel, holly, ivy and mistletoe. The Winter Solsticeprovides the lyrics of a 15th century carol about holly and ivy, which refers to an ancient battle between the two, with the Ivy representing the cold gloominess of winter and the Holly King, the jolly spirit of the season.
Take a winter hike and collect items from nature, such as evergreen and pinecones.
Celebrating Yule – Darkness
The Winter Solstice is a turning point, both astronomically and symbolically. It is a time to let go of things lost, releasing resentments and regrets, then turning to brighter days.
Start the day quietly, with time to reflect – perhaps sitting in darkness and silence. This is the season when animals and life hibernate, and we should take time to do so as well, honoring the darkness before bringing in the light.
Teach your kids breathing techniques and Yoga. Talk about hibernating animals and that even though humans don’t hibernate, it’s important to have quiet time and time to rest, to refresh your mind and body.
Celebrating Yule – Lightness
By evening, turn the day into a celebration of light. Decorate the house with lights, tinsel, and candles – anything to brighten up your home. As you add light into your space, think about bringing light into your life and the world around you. Think about the things that make your life worth living.
Celebrate with a winter bonfire! Write down your losses on a piece of paper and throw them into the fire, or take a moment of silence to reflect on past sadness. After the silence, sing a sun song, such as, “You Are My Sunshine” or “Here Comes the Sun.” And then whenever there’s a bonfire, you have to have S’mores!