Forget stressful shopping and draw on Pagan practices to celebrate the official start of winter with these pre-Christmas rituals...
By mid-December it’s likely you're feeling a little frazzled (to say the least). Yes, the festive season may be full of fun and frippery, but it can also be a challenging time. Which is why taking a pause to celebrate the winter solstice with a little reflection and connection is exactly my cup of eggnog.
What is the winter solstice?
Simply put, the winter solstice occurs at one instant on the shortest day of the year. It is the moment at which, for the Northern Hemisphere, the sun is at its lowest position in the sky. So on Friday 21st December we’ll have the longest night. It may feel like winter already, but 21st December actually marks the first day of the new season (according to astronomy). Great news, right!?
Well actually it is. The day after the winter solstice marks the beginning of lengthening days, leading up to the summer solstice in June. Hallelujah, the days of feeling like you could fall asleep at your desk at 4pm are numbered! If you want to celebrate the return of the light you’re not alone; the winter solstice has been marked by cultures around the world for aeons.
One of the most famous celebrations in the world today though, happens at our very own Stonehenge, where thousands of Druids and Pagans gather to chant, dance, kiss the stones and throw in a few yoga poses while waiting to see the sunrise. The ancient ruins are perfectly aligned with the sun’s movement and, according to English Heritage, may have been a sacred place of worship and celebration for solstices for thousands of years.
Why celebrate the start of winter?
At this time of year, it’s easy to get so absorbed in frantically shopping, downing mulled wine and tying up loose ends so you can actually relax at Christmas, that we can forget to notice what’s going on around us.
Huddled in coats and rushing from the cold into centrally-heated homes and workplaces, we become numb to the rhythms of nature.
The winter solstice offers an opportunity to recognise the cyclical order of the cosmos and remember that our lives are part of something bigger that is always changing and renewing.
"nature is our biggest teacher"
Create your own winter solstice ritual
We may not think of traditions like our yearly Christmas office party, decorating the tree with baubles, or gathering with friends and family to gorge on turkey as rituals, but the act of performing any action or ceremony in a customary way like this is just that.
Unlike Christmas though, the solstice provides an opportunity to create a ritual that really serves you.
This is a super simple ritual you can do at home, without the need for any fancy crystals or smudge sticks.
This fire ritual can be done on your own or in a group and involves my favourite way to reflect - journalling!
How will you be celebrating the winter solstice?
The Curious Souls blog is a place to learn more about creating rituals in your life that serve you, connecting with your natural rhythms so life becomes easier, and living consciously so we can create a more peaceful world.