Celebrating the Winter Solstice
What is the Winter Solstice
The Winter Solstice (often referred to as Yule) is the shortest day and longest night of the year. This event happens on or around December 22nd each year.
You don’t need to have a formal ritual celebration for Summer Solstice. You can just stay warm and bundled up, eat plenty of food that will help keep you energized throughout the night, and spend time with loved ones to create memories that will last throughout the year. However, if you want some ideas on how to create a festive experience, read on.
Tips for decorating your home for the winter solstice
There is no right or wrong way to decorate your home for the winter solstice, just follow your heart. However, some ideas include using festive colors and holiday decorations, adding lights and tree branches, and making sure to keep all of the window shades open to allow in as much natural light as possible. The colors of the winter solstice often include red, green, white, and gold. If I’m working on a thematic celebration, I usually choose two colors to decorate with.
Return the sun with rituals and celebrations
Many witchy celebrations take place on the night of the winter solstice in order to return the sun back to its rightful place. These ceremonies may involve singing sacred songs, dancing around a bonfire, and exchanging gifts. Many of these rituals have roots in ancient celebrations.
The returning sun symbolizes new beginnings. During this time, we are encouraged to no longer focus on our past actions and mistakes and instead look forward to all the opportunities ahead. The returning light
The longest night of the year
The longest night of the year is a time to reflect on what has been accomplished and prepare for future changes. The winter solstice is a time to reflect on the past year and make resolutions and decisions for the coming year. Many people believe that this is also a time to ask for changes and make resolutions for the new year.
A bonfire is an outdoor fire that was traditionally used for cooking and socializing on the night of the winter solstice. Today, many people enjoy burning wood or other materials to create a warm and festive atmosphere around their fire. The Yule Log is a decorated tree that is burned on the night of the winter solstice. It’s often decorated with fire-ready decorations. We like to drill holes in ours and add new year wishes to it before we burn it.
Singing Sacred Songs
Many Pagans have rewritten Christmas carols to be more inclusive of nature, the returning sun, and the divine mother. There are also Pagan and Pagan-adjacent musical groups that have created original musical pieces designed to be sung at events like the Winter Solstice. Check out Lisa Thiel, Kellianna, Wendy Rule and Libana. I have a playlist here to get you started.
The Oak King and the Holly King
One story that is often told is the tale of the oak king and the holy king. Each of these kings rules over six months of the year. On the solstice day, it’s said that they fight for the rule and one king reigns. The oak king rules from the winter solstice to the summer solstice- the waxing year. The holly king rules from the summer solstice to the winter solstice- the waning half of the year. Some groups like to act this story out as ritual theatre as part of their celebration.
Where to Find Winter Solstice-Themed Events
Some of the best winter solstice events to attend are religious ceremonies, holiday parades and festivals, and candle-lit vigils. You can also find many events online or by contacting local pagan groups. Many Christmas events have been shifted to be more inclusive or secular “holiday” events.