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Fun for All Ages: Winter Solstice Celebration Ideas

The winter solstice is a reflective time filled with hope for brighter days. Celebrated in late December in the Northern Hemisphere or late June in the Southern Hemisphere, it represents the release of darkness in favor of light. Both literal and metaphoric, this event has been revered for centuries, setting a precedent for modern holidays.

If you're interested in participating in this seasonal tradition, you can keep it simple or make it adventuresome. Create traditions, learn the historical significance, and even visit new places. Whatever you decide to do, make sure it has personal meaning.


01 Create a countdown calendar

rocks formed in spiral position

Highly symbolic, the spiral traces its path to the inner-self. Honor your light within by creating a spiral solstice calendar. There's no right or wrong way to design one, and you can deck it out or make it as simple as you want.

Find some stylish river rocks, acorns, or anything else nature provides. Set them up in a spiral for as many sleeps as there are until the solstice, leaving a special one in the center. Once daily, remove the outer-most item, replacing it with a burning candle. By the end of your countdown, you'll have a glowing work of art to celebrate the rebirth of light.


02 Decorate any space

Decorating your home with natural elements is a wonderful way to enhance the season. Use twigs, pine cones, and any other gifts from the outdoors. Make a yule wreath from evergreen branches, berry sprigs, or holly. Burn a yule log, or put on a video of a crackling fire if you don't have a fireplace.

Add a potted yule tree and decorate it with strung berries, sun and star ornaments, lights, and other inspired items. Or, you can decorate a tree outside with homemade garland and bird seed to feed the animals.

wreath decorated with red artificial ornaments MaximFesenko / Getty Images

03 Light the way

Allow light to guide you this season. Repurpose old candleholders and bond with your loved ones by painting them as a craft idea. Create yule lanterns or luminaria. Spend the evening with all lights off, illuminating your home with the hypnotic ambiance of gentle candlelight. Beeswax candles are a healthy and natural choice, symbolizing eternal love and light.

A yule alter is another beautiful and symbolic gesture. To celebrate the sun's return, devote a small table or shelf to your design. Find a metallic, yellow, or orange candle. Burn it safely amid natural decorations, other candles, and season-inspired crafts. Cleanse it with sweetgrass or sage.

candles and holiday lights GMVozd / Getty Images

04 A symbolic getaway

Pay a visit to Wiltshire, England, if you have the time, money, and interest. Stonehenge is a cathartic and stirring way to experience the yearly December event. Many people consider the sight-line of the winter solstice sunset more important than the summer's sunrise. This ancient site attracts hundreds of visitors for the celebration. Learn about its history and significance to see if it's the right destination for you.

Stonehenge at sunset, Wiltshire, England. AndyRoland / Getty Images

05 A wassail toast with a tasty treat

No winter solstice is complete without its traditional drink. Wassail is a hot mulled cider with or without alcohol. Assorted spices like cinnamon, nutmeg, ginger, and orange all represent fire and sun.

Baking a yule log cake is another common treat for the year's shortest day. Many people without a fireplace elect to go this route instead. Yule log cookies are another tasty option.

Two glasses of mulled wine AlexRaths / Getty Images

06 Make time for yourself and others

Meditation is a tremendous way to get in touch with yourself during the darkest day. Remember to take time for yourself to dwell on your strengths and how you'd like to grow as a person.

Conversely, it's equally important to share your time with others. Attend an advent spiral walk or host one of your own to celebrate the rebirth of light. Visit new places. Go to a solstice festival so you can share in the festivities and symbolism with like-minded people.

Couple warming up near the house during the winter holidays RossHelen / Getty Images

07 Tell folktales

Folktales are a heartwarming way to share in the legends of the solstice. Tales of Saint Nicholas and the Deer Mother will help the young and old alike better appreciate the celebration. Children's stories about winter's cycle will also set the tone for the season, allowing an enhanced understanding of the yearly event.

mother reading a book to her child Yuricazac / Getty Images

08 Exchange gifts

Modern gift-giving is rooted in solstice traditions. When the celebration first came about, the focus was on nature. Still today, you don't have to worry about costly presents for this event. Instead, give something from the heart that's inspired by nature. Seeds, beeswax candles, homemade wreaths, crystals, handcrafted items, and food are all magnificent options. If you're inclined to do a bit of shopping, eco-friendly items should be your go-to choice.

family exchanging gifts SDI Productions / Getty Images

09 Dine by candlelight

dining table with candles and decorations

If you're not into gift-giving but still want to share part of yourself, hosting a solstice feast is a tradition dating back to the holiday's origins. In ancient times, revelers would indulge in copious amounts of food and drink despite the scarce winter food supply to celebrate the sun's ever-increasing presence.

Serve up your favorite dishes. For an added treat, find locally raised and farmed seasonal foods. Deck your home with candles, and shut off the lights. But if you're going to keep them off, dine before sunset since it's awfully difficult to clean up and wash dishes without any sunlight.


10 Give back to nature

boy picking up trash in the winter

Ultimately, the point of the winter solstice celebration is to honor nature. It's important to the planet and yourself to do your part to preserve this outlook. Take some time to go for a woodland journey. Scatter seeds in a conducive growing environment. Leave food for wild animals. Take a walk along the roadside and pick up trash. Whether you're at home, on vacation, or visiting loved ones, let the light of the season guide you toward improving yourself and the world.


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