Celebrate the return of the light this year by creating a family ritual on Winter Solstice. The word solstice comes from the Latin word solstitium which is made up of the parts, “sol” or sun, and “sistere” which means “to stand still.” The literal translation is “the standing still of the sun.” It is the time of year when the sun reaches its lowest place on the horizon creating the shortest daylight of the year.
Winter solstice has long been a tradition recognized by cultures around the world where the return of the sun is both honored and celebrated since the days begin to lengthen from this day on until reaching the Summer Solstice, the longest daylight time of the year.
The Yule Log was a tradition which began in Norway to celebrate Winter Solstice. A log was cut from one’s land and hoisted into the air and onto the earth in order to celebrate the return of the sun. Over the years, it became customary to burn your yule log on Winter Solstice to bring back the light into life for the coming year. It also symbolized the letting go of the old from the previous year.
Here are some ideas for you to create a Winter Solstice Ritual for your family this year and celebrate the return of the light.
First, build a miniature Yule altar together. In creating your altar, consider as you place each item what meaning it holds for you and your child. Traditionally, the type of wood that was selected for the yule log also carried meaning. Follow your heart and create using materials and items that you are drawn to–even cinnamon sticks can serve as beautiful fairy-size yule logs! Here are some ideas to prime your creativity and imagination.
Colors for candles or altar cloth:
Gold, yellow, red or white symbolize the sun
White, silver, black symbolize the moon
Green, blue, red, white symbolize the season of the year
(you could collect a stick from the yard or park, or draw the wood of your choice on a paper and roll it up to make a mini-stick or log–excellent activity to look up the different grains of wood and to take mindful notice of the variations in nature’s beauty)
Pine: success and wellbeing
Birch: new beginnings
Willow: honors God or Goddess/deities
Aspen: spiritual knowledge
Holly: opens the mind to inspiration
Pinecones: comfort, protection, symbolize ever-green even in the darkest of winter
Rosemary: cleansing, releasing from the past year
Dried oranges: symbolize the sun: shifting from the dark to the light
Star anise: good luck
Cinnamon sticks: good luck
Find a quiet place in the house where you can gather as the sun sets. As you create your altar, talk with your child about what each item means and symbolizes for you, how you are placing it with intention and mindfulness. Ask your child what s/he would like to release from the year and what they would like to create in the new year.
After you have completed the altar’s set up, you might also draw a picture of it to place in a journal or keep it in a sacred place to re-visit next year as you create your next year’s Winter Solstice ritual and Yule altar.
On the night of the Winter Solstice, put on some cozy socks, gather some snuggly throw blankets, and perhaps even sip some warm cocoa together. Turn down the lights and light some candles or, for safety, use flameless candles/tea lights.
Gather around your tiny yule altar and take turns sharing what you are releasing this year, placing a symbol of what you want to release on the altar. Share what you are ready to let go of to make room for something new.
Next, light a lantern or flameless tea light and hold it up, placing your other hand on your heart, take turns saying out loud, “I welcome the return of the light and honor the light of God in my heart.” Then share an intention word for the new year such as “This year, I open my heart for peace and calm (friendship, love, etc).
Close your ritual time with the following prayer:
God Is Light
I Am Light
We Are Light
I Honor the Light Within Me and You
I am Thankful