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What are your Winter Solstice traditions?

Yesterday was the shortest day of the year, and I have read a few of your comments this month about your winter solstice traditions -- just enough for my appetite to be whetted, and not enough for any actual knowledge. You say they're simple and magical and lovely, but what are they?

At Hip Mountain Mama Blog, she talks of gifts and breakfast burritos (maybe I'll have those for day-after-solstice!). According to a great Chronicle post, gift-giving, bringing a tree indoors and decorating it, kissing under the mistletoe, jingle bells and reindeer are all connected to solstice traditions that only in the 18th or 19th centuries became adopted by Christianity. Helping those in need in the community does go back to the original St. Nicholas and early Christmas celebrations, but the concept surely didn't begin with him; in no time like the winter are the needy more in need. In pre-industrial societies, the poor would be the ones who hadn't stored up enough food for the winter. In that way, feeding others might be a very pagan thing to do. (Toy drives probably wouldn't have the same resonance.)

For all those who celebrated the season yesterday, either as an addition to or instead of a religious celebration, please let us know how you celebrated! I'd love to take a peak at your magical, simple ways.


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We build a large cardboard image of Old Man Winter (he tends to resemble Abe Lincoln), attached to a stack of boxes stuffed with newspaper. We have a potluck dinner party and everyone brings instruments. There is music and merriment. At the height of the festivities, we go into the backyard and people read favorite quotes about winter. Then, to celebrate the end of winter's dominion, we light Old Man Winter on fire and watch him burn, while one of the guests plays "Ring of Fire" on the accordion (and believe me, you haven't lived till you've heard "Ring of Fire" on the accordion).

zinemama, I had to immediately go to Youtube and find an example of that. awesome! and I love the idea of burning Old Man Winter. it must be satisfying indeed :)

We throw a big soup and solstice party for the friends and neighbors.

We have four signs up....

Solstice Tradition # 1 at the door outside

Since ''Yule'' is literally ''New Year'', start the year out right by placing your best foot over the threshold first. Bonus luck for jumping!

Solstice Tradition # 2 near the potted tree decorated with sun symbols

Admire the evergreen tree, natures' promise that life will return after winters' sleep.

Solstice Tradition # 3 at the fireplace with a basket of small evergreen limbs

Burn away the troubles of the old year. As the small bough pops and crackles, imagine your troubles going up in smoke.

Solstice Tradition # 4 on the fridge, of course

Eat, Drink, and Be Merry!

Blessing later on the merry makers..

as the sun increases, so may your joys increase.
- as the nights become shorter, so may your sorrows shrink.
- as those you love surround you, feel my love there as well.
- may you be blessed by your Gods, be they within or without.
- may all your dearest dreams come to you in time.

Crockpots hold the soup, baskets of bread are everywhere. Some years I have time to make honey cakes and sun cookies. Green trimming are on the mantle and the Ipod plays a long set of songs with the words sun, sunshine and such in them. Sometimes there's a bonfire out back for the kids to toast marshmallows.

No gifts. No magical beings except the warmth and love of good people.

Ha! We go to Olive Garden on each solstace and equinox, so 4 times per year. My 6 year old sees it as a "fancy" dinner. I just see it as doing something we don't normally do. It's our mom/daughter family tradition, started 2 years ago. As we speak, I continue to be full of bread sticks and salad, and I have leftover eggplant parm for lunch! Happy Winter!

We have dinner by candlelight. We do that on occasion, but with more candles on solstice.

This year we (mom, dad and 22-month-old daughter) participated in the creation of the late afternoon Winter Solstice ritual in our intentional community. Then we ate dinner with friends and went home just the three of us. While Dad and daughter read books, I lit all the candles in our tiny home and put on quiet music. Then we helped her light the solstice candle, which burns all night long down to the socket. We had a couple ersatz gifts to open (very small deal), and we just enjoyed the coziness of the three of us being together. Then we put Baby to bed as usual. Oh, and on our way to the ritual, and ever since, we've been singing my re-worded version of a Christmas round, which now goes: "Welcome Mother Winter on this Solstice day! Give birth unto the Sun so far away! Blessed be, oh blessed be!" Today I sang it and she said, "I wuv dat song." :-) (She's just started using "I" rather than "you" about herself.)

Someday I'd love to host an annual overnight Solstice party for friends and family - our version of what Starhawk describes in her co-authored book Circle Round - with dream sharing, good food, homebrewed mead, all that good stuff...

I love all of these traditions...

Next year!

I really feel that celebrating the seasons and friends/family are more meaningful to me than what I have experienced this season to be in my lifetime.

I host a lantern parade for the children -- sparkly attire encouraged! When the sun sets, we light their little lanterns, to bring light to the longest night -- they march around the block, sometimes deciding to sing. Then we come home to warm snacks and the lighting of the Yule log (the trunk of last year's xmas tree). I love it even more than Christmas day -- a pretty, sparkly, happy, simple night. And it gets the whole house clean and prepped for the ensuing days of plenty!

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