Create your own solstice tradition

When our daughter was growing up, we wanted to teach her about the cycles of nature and, in the process, maybe sneak some science in there. This naturally led to the reasons the seasons occur in terms of planetary motions, and this led to discussions of the solstice and equinox.

Over the years, we have created our own family traditions, and so on this December 21, my family will celebrate the winter solstice. Some of our celebration ideas come from cultures around the world. From the Feast of Juul — a yule log; Saturnalia — gifts and drink; and from the Dongzhi Festival — round foods like dumplings.

At sunset, my family will build a fire outside and drink hot beverages. We like to write on slips of paper thoughts we wish to let go of from the past year, and then burn these slips away in the fire. We will turn off the electricity in the house, and spend a moment with the silence and darkness. A bit of the outdoor fire will be brought in to light our fire in the living room. Then we light candles, exchange gifts, laugh, and dine on round food (pizza) symbolizing the cycle of the year. To end our celebration, we turn back on our lights and heat, and we are thankful for this too.

It can be soothing to take cues from the cycles of nature. On this winter solstice, take a moment to pause and reflect, and make a wish for the bright beautiful new year. Happy Solstice!

Create your own tradition

  • Watch the sunrise or sunset
  • Go on a nature walk
  • Celebrate light: build a fire or light candles
  • Bring inside some freshly gathered evergreens
  • Reflect or journal thoughts of gratitude
  • Drink a hot beverage outdoors: tea, hot chocolate, cider, or spiced wine
  • Have a citrus-scented hot bath (by candlelight)
  • Create and give gifts from nature