It’s an opportunity to appreciate the natural world around us, to fill our homes with candles, friends, laughter, food and warm fires. Or maybe you’ll opt for a quieter solstice – a chance to take a breath in the whirlwind and just be still and peaceful and at one with the world. Here are some ideas for celebrating the winter solstice with your family:
- Light candles Fill your home with candle-light. You might like to create a circle of candles and get each family member to light one as they make a wish, or offer words of gratitude for the year. Lights are an important part of festivals at this time of year when our ancestors welcomed the return of the sun. Candles and fire bring warmth and light into our homes and hearts as we pass through the longest night and into the longer days again.
- Have a winter solstice fire Gather round a special solstice fire to tell stories, play games or share your dreams. Keep the fire burning from sunrise to sunset. If you don’t have anywhere for an indoor fire, why not make a bonfire outside, wrap up warm and toast marshmallows.
- Take a winter walkThis is the shortest day so getting out in the morning for a brisk walk helps chase the winter blues away. You can celebrate that from now on the days will gradually begin to get longer and the nights shorter. Enjoy the changing of the seasons around you – perhaps gathering some natural wonders for your seasonal table.
- Have a clear out and make space for the new Solstices and equinoxes are always times of shifting energies when we feel a need to clarify or change things. They offer space for reflection and harmonious cleansing. Use the solstice to clear out a room or two in your house. After a cleansing morning walk, take an hour to shift things around, getting rid of items you no longer need to make space for the new. A clear house at this time of year makes the festive period feel less overwhelming – open space in the home allows energy to flow freely and your heart to feel more open and expansive.
- Have a technology-free day Switch off phones, TVs, games consoles and computers, and just spend the day being together. If this sounds like a big challenge for your family, give them plenty of notice and have other things planned – such as a solstice meal cooked together and building a fire – to keep them occupied. It’s good to reclaim some of the time modern technology demands now and again, and events like the solstices offer quieter, reflective opportunities to indulge our senses with rest.
- Cook a solstice meal Prepare a menu of solstice treats. Perhaps you have home-grown produce to finish off, or a favourite family meal. Or family members could each choose a dish to serve; older kids might like to make theirs. You’ll end up with a quirky mix of dishes for everyone to share. You might like to invite extended family and friends to enjoy your feast. If it suits your family, you could take time to say a solstice prayer of gratitude to Mother Earth for her abundant gifts and the food on your table.
- Watch the sunset There’s a pretty good chance you’ll get to see both the sunrise and sunset on Winter solstice as the day is so short. Find yourself a nice vantage point, either indoors or out, to enjoy them. If you’re watching sunrise or sunset outside, pack yourself and your family if they’re joining you, a tasty picnic. For the sunset, a flask of warming mulled wine or cider goes down a treat. Taking time here and there to appreciate the wonders of the rising and setting of the sun is energising and uplifting – the equivalent of a deep, restorative inhalation and exhalation for the body and mind.
- Give thanks You might like to create a solstice tree of gratitude. Use a fallen branch you find on your solstice walk – you can decorate it with paints and glitter or leave it natural. Place it in a vase on the table. Cut out heart or star shapes and thread each with ribbon or string to hang on the tree. Then get each member of the family to write three things they are grateful for this year on three shapes and hang them on the tree. Visitors might like to contribute to the Gratitude Tree too, and you can keep it going throughout the festive period.
- Set your intentions for the coming year Setting intentions at various points in the year helps clarify where you are going and what no longer serves you. It’s a fun activity for the family to enjoy too – perhaps you might like to have a solstice craft afternoon where you create vision boards for the coming year. Or list the habits/thoughts/activities you’d like to let go of and those you’d like to embrace and as you announce each, burn them in the solstice fire, before ending your practice with an affirmation like ‘So Be It’.
- Be still Whatever else you do this solstice, allow a window of time – even if just minutes – to be still. It’s recharging on so many levels, especially in the mad rush and dash of the festive period. Maybe you’ll gaze out the window, or have a seat on a tree stump in the woods. Let your mind empty, and your breathing deepen. Just enjoy being here, right now, in this moment. No expectations and no demands, just being.
Article by Lucy Corkhill