Image via Joanna Kosinska / Unsplash
Winter Solstice marks the shortest and darkest day of the year in the Northern Hemisphere. Cultures all over the world celebrate the solstice as a rebirth of the sun and return of the light. Having Scandinavian heritage, I’ve always been interested in the celebration of ‘yule’ as it’s known in Sweden. Unlike the religious Christmas holiday, winter solstice is often a more spiritual celebration of the earth and ancestors, rooted in paganism. Below are five ways in which you can celebrate the Winter Solstice and start your own traditions>>
Light a Yule Log or Bonfire
The lighting of a traditional yule log is steeped in rich history and is said to keep negative energies away. I won’t go into too much detail as I am not an expert on the matter– you can dive deeper here and even discover what burning different types of wood symbolize. You can decorate your yule log with dried fruits, spices and greenery to promote various intentions. No fireplace? Gather friends for a bonfire celebration… bonus points for serving hot cocoa!
Prepare a Hearty Winter Meal
Traditional Winter Solstice celebrations included a grand winter feast. Serve a meal that is hearty and will keep you warm through the long, cold winter night. My favorite winter meals include beef stew, squash soups, coq au vin, pot roast and shepherd’s pie. Serve with mulled cider or wine.
The holiday season can be exceptionally hectic so solstice is the perfect time to give yourself self-care. It’s a time to turn inward, reflect and re-energize yourself. Find a moment of solitude– turn off any distractions and truly be with yourself. Take the time to journal, draw yourself a bath, incorporating relaxing aromatherapy, or try an at-home facial. You can relax with a face mask and give yourself a facial massage. Light a candle, I recommend a winter scent, eucalyptus (stress relief), lavender (calmness) or a woodsy scent such as frankincense, which helps promote feelings of relaxation, peace and wellness.
Play a Winter Solstice Playlist
Music can truly set the mood! Along with feasting, traditional Winter Solstice celebrations also include a night of music and dancing. Spotify has some good solstice-themed playlists, my favorite being one called Yule Tidings. It has a mix of classical celtic, wintery violin sounds, and even winter favorites such as Carol of the Bells and Sleigh Ride– something for everyone to enjoy. It will give you all the winter feels!
Set your intentions with the new sun by taking a piece of paper and writing down any habits or aspects of your life you want to let go of. Burn this paper in your candle (or in your yule log if you prefer). Take a moment to reflect on your intentions for the coming year before blowing out your candle. Once out, stay in the darkness for a moment of gratitude to your ancestors.
If you are with friends or family, you can light your candles in a group one-by-one in a candlelight circle. Before blowing out, reflect on the gratitude you have for one another.
What are your winter solstice celebration traditions?