Today is the shortest day of the year. When the Earth tilts to its farthest point from the Sun, the northern hemisphere will experience the longest night of the year. However, this means that the days gradually get easier from here. For millennia, communities have marked the significance of this day with rituals and traditions to express gratitude for the past year and set our intentions for the coming year. Here are five fun rituals you can do at home to celebrate the solstice.
Whether you consider yourself to be spiritual or not, the longest night of the year can give us all a break from thinking.
Today, December 21, is the shortest day and longest night of the year.
Known as the winter solstice, from this point on, our days will start to get longer again, until the summer solstice on June 22, 2021: the longest day of the year.
Many cultures and traditions around the world have honored the winter solstice that marks the symbolic death and rebirth of the sun, and today many would normally keep these traditions alive by going to Stonehenge.
However, you can also recreate some traditions at home to mark the occasion of the winter solstice and embrace the special spiritual significance of this day.
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Aysha Bell, healing space creator and meditation facilitator, said: “This time of darkness encourages us to gather among our loved ones and celebrate the rebirth and return to the light.
“In winter, everything lies dormant: It is a sacred time of rest and reflection before the awakening and the slow build-up towards brighter days.
“The energy of winter is to go within a good time to reflect, purify and manifest.”
Kristy Lomas, founder of The Ki Retreat and an intuitive healer and multidisciplinary therapist, adds: “Nothing spreads festive cheers like decorating the Christmas tree, sending gifts to loved ones, Christmas trees, mistletoe, mulled wine, partying with the family. & Of course Santa himself!
“All these festive favorites are actually based on the pagan tradition of winter solstice, which celebrates the return of the sun.
“Yule is about gratitude and hope. At this time of year, we let go and let go of the struggles and hardships we have gone through during the dark half of the year so we can make room to welcome the sun and brighter times back in our life.”
Party with loved ones
Celebrating the winter solstice could be as easy as enjoying a cozy dinner with your family.
Kristy Lomas said: “Traditionally, the winter solstice was a time to gather in gratitude with loved ones. It provides the perfect reason to reconnect and celebrate.
“Prepare warm, healthy foods that remind you of winter, such as root vegetables.”
Connect with nature by making a wreath
Many of our Christmas time traditions, such as hanging wreaths, branches and even our Christmas trees, come from traditional solstice celebrations.
Making a wreath can be an attentive and creative way to celebrate the solstice.
Kristy said, “Make your own wreath using evergreen plants you find on a walk.
“Steve green is a symbol of protection and prosperity. The green in the wreath, in the sharpness of winter, served as a reminder that spring is just around the corner and the days will be warmer and lighter.
“The attentive practice of making the wreath helps us to feel more connected to nature and more grounded.”
Turn on a light
Traditionally, bonfires and candles were lit to mark the solstice.
Aysha said: “It was typically characterized by Celtic, Slavic and Germanic peoples by lighting bonfires, intended to increase the strength of the sun for the rest of the crop season and ensure a healthy harvest.”
You can embrace these traditions in your own home this year and create a beautiful atmosphere for mindfulness.
Kristy said: “Fire and candles are central to celebrating the winter solstice. Solstice is also the longest night of the year and it allows us to stop and reflect before the rebirth in the spring.
“Either on a table or on your Christmas altar, place yellow, gold or orange candles in a circle (in the shape of a sun).
“Then put any other candles you feel attracted to around these in a varied pattern. Turn on the “sun” lights first, then the others. “
Use this moment to reflect and meditate on things you are grateful for, as well as what you want to manifest for the coming year.
Celebrate the gratitude
You can celebrate gratitude by meditating on your accomplishments over the past year and expressing gratitude for any luck you have had this year.
Writing down things you are grateful for can be a meditation exercise if you light some scented candles or burn some essential oils while giving thanks.
Some people also choose to donate what they can afford, to the less fortunate, as an act of giving back to the community and sharing their wealth.