5 Ways To Celebrate The Winter Solstice
Have you ever wondered why so many early winter holidays from around the world seem to have similar themes and traditions?
We have the Winter Solstice to thank for that!
The Winter Solstice is the first day of winter, the shortest day of the year, and so many cultures around the world incorporated traditions of warmth and light into their celebrations as a way to encourage the sun to return at greater length and intensity in the sky.
Of course we know now that the days will grow longer again, but many hundreds of years ago, it was a scary time for people, with darkness gathering and so much plant and animal life seemingly dying.
Solstice celebrations like Yule, Hanukkah, Yalda, and Christmas were ways to keep peoples’ spirits up, while also incorporating a little faith and belief into the mix.
Nowadays, it’s easy to add a little Solstice fun to your festivities, whether they be religious, secular, or somewhere in between.
We’ve put together a list of 5 ideas and activities you can enjoy with family and friends to help bring a little bit more nature and magick into your holidays!
1. Create A Simmer Pot
Simmer pots are like living potpourri!
Dispersing aromatic oils into the air in a more natural and controlled way than essential oils and diffusers, they’re a great option for bringing the scent of the season into your home (especially if you have kids or small animals).
To get your simmer pot going, bring a pot of water to a gentle simmer and add herbs, spices, and fruits to your liking. Some ideal seasonal herbs include Cloves, Ginger, Juniper, & Rosemary (all of which we sell in the shop!); you can also add sliced fruits like oranges and apples, pomegranate seeds, and even droppings from your pine or fir trees!
Your home will smell like a holiday card before you know it.
Keep an eye on the water level, and add water as necessary. When done, toss outside in a compost heap or other natural area (as long as the ingredients don’t harm the local wildlife).
2. Solstice Themed Holiday Music
Christianity definitely has cornered the market on seasonal music this time of year, but there are still plenty of songs and tunes you can enjoy if you want to leave Jesus and Santa out of it!
More and more musicians are creating music geared towards the seasonal shift into winter. Many of them are Solstice or Yule (the religious Pagan tradition that honors the winter solstice) themed, but plenty are just about the season in general!
We’ve built a playlist of great non-Christmas songs for the holidays; you may have heard us playing it in the shop recently.
If you have Spotify, click the link below to save the playlist and bring a little bit of us into your own holiday celebrations!
3. Give the Gift Of Light
Candles are a popular holiday gift this time of year, because of the associations with light, warmth, and the sun, so why not give candle making a try?
A successful crafting session means you’ll have handmade, heartfelt gifts to give to your loved ones, and it’s sure to fill your heart with light in the process. (Not to mention your home will smell amazing!)
You can also pick up fully stocked kits for beginners at many craft stores, if you like the style of candle on the box.
And if your candles turn out less than stellar, our original Yule candle makes a great gift. (The other scents do, too!)
4. Bring Back The Wassailing
Many people know wassail as a traditional yuletide drink made from heated apple cider and spices, but the name actually comes from the tradition of visiting neighbors door to door, singing and exchanging treats - you may know it as “Christmas Carolling”!
Well, we think it’s time to bring it back!
Wassailing was a fun way to check on your neighbors and loved ones in the days before phone and internet, to make sure they had everything they needed to survive the cold, and to exchange music for treats and warm drinks.
In the time of Covid and social distancing, this is the perfect way to spend time with your holiday bubble while also spreading a little cheer around your local community. Hey, maybe you could sing one of the Solstice songs from our playlist!
5. Make Your Tree Last All Year Long
If you have a live Christmas tree this month - or even a Kissing Ball, Yule Log Bundle, or Wreath - you can make use of the boughs long after the holiday season is over.
Pine is a common cleaning ingredient, but if you have pine around your home for the holidays, you don’t need to waste money on commercial cleaners.
Pine, spruce, and fir needles contain oils with powerful antibacterial and antimicrobial properties, and the clearing aromas helps open the sinuses and makes things just smell clean!
To ensure you have fresh pine to clean your home with year round, pack a mason jar full of branches and needles from your tree, top with a clear grain alcohol, and allow to sit for at least a few weeks, shaking daily, before straining.
The mixture should smell of pine; now add it to your waters and cleaning mixtures for an extra boost!
You can continue to top off the jar with more alcohol, infusing and extracting the pine oils into the liquid until they look dull and drained and the alcohol no longer smells of pine when strained.
Don’t want to use alcohol?
You can follow this same process with white vinegar for another potent cleaning concoction, or steep the needles in skin-safe oil instead for a festive anointing oil for cleansing and consecration. (It’s best to make sure the tree wasn’t sprayed or treated with anything nasty before infusing, especially if you want to use it on your skin.)
Though it may sometimes seem like certain holidays take over in December, it helps to remember the origin for the season: surviving the dark, cold winter and welcoming in the sun - even if it’s more symbolic now than necessary.
You aren’t alone.
As long as the sun keeps on turning, waxing and waning through the seasons, we can remember we’re all in this together.
We hope you have a wonderfully warm & festive winter holiday season, whatever you may celebrate.
Happy Winter Solstice from our TRH Family to yours!