For many, when one thinks of December, Christmas first comes to mind. For others, there’s Midwinter, Yule, The Longest Night, and Winter Solstice. Winter Solstice can be celebrated in many different ways, especially since it’s the first day of winter, but when is the Winter Solstice this year? It’s time to prepare if this often overlooked holiday is one you’d like to participate in.
The 2019 Winter Solstice occurs on Dec. 21, marking the official first day of winter (even though many of us have been feeling winter's effects for a bit now). It's also the shortest day of the year, so you can expect late dawns and early sunsets, according to EarthSky. After the Winter Solstice though, our nights will start to slowly get shorter and shorter and our days will be filled with a little bit more light as time goes on. It's the perfect time "to celebrate what will be the return of light after the darkest day," according to a blog post on Little Bins for Little Hands. And while the fact that it's the shortest day (and longest night) of the year may feel depressing to some, there are actually a lot of things you can do to celebrate the return of light. There are special foods to eat, rituals to perform, family time to enjoy, and reflections to be made on the Winter Solstice.
As far as food, a Winter Solstice feast is similar to Thanksgiving according to an Elite Daily article, but to a smaller scale. Celebrate with winter favorites like mulled wine and cider, cookies, nuts, lamb, a winter harvest salad, pomegranates, — whatever you deem most delicious and comforting for this time of quiet darkness and reflection.
For family activities, Little Bins for Little Hands suggests to try burning a yule log, making paper "lanterns" out of plastic cups to celebrate the coming light (and to lighten up the darkest day), creating snowflakes, or leaving food offerings for winter animals outside.
Reflecting and performing sacred rituals are also fun and spiritual ways to celebrate and honor the Winter Solstice, which is also called Yule. The Learn Religions website noted, "The winter solstice is a time of reflection, during the darkest and longest night of the year. Why not take a moment to offer up a prayer on Yule?" You can also set up a special alter with candles, greenery, incense, and special photos of people and animals whom you have a loving connection with. Take the time to cleanse your home with either a prayer, smoke cleanse (with sage, palo santo, etc.), incense, or physically removing clutter and cleaning/cleansing your home. Remember to keep windows open if you do a smoke cleanse so the negative energy can escape your home.
So on Dec. 21, don't forget to celebrate the return of more light in your days, and reflect on the year you've had, cleanse your home for winter, and create loving family memories and traditions. Happy Winter Solstice.