2021 has been quite the year. So, let’s face it: for most of us, staying positive, uplifted and cheerful during the cold end of the year months can be a challenge. In today’s article, I would like to share with you the meaning of the Winter Solstice, as well as some witchy rituals for the Christmas season.
First, what does the Winter Solstice mean?
The Winter Solstice, also called Yule in the Wiccan Wheel of the Year, is associated with the celebration of the longest night and the shortest day of the year. This happens on December 21st in the Northern Hemisphere.
Yule is the celebration of the return of light, the promise of the returning warmer and brighter days. Although a little different, many cultures and religions around the world have some sort of Winter celebrations that resemble each other. This is especially true when it comes to:
- Fire festivities
- Emphasis on the color red
- Gathering and feasting
- Honoring nature and slowing down
- Diving deeper into renewal and introspective practices, etc.
To put it simply, many festivals of the Winter Solstice celebrate the birth of what we call the savior archetype. In Latin America and other parts of the globe, the God Child image is very common. This is something we find in Christianity with the newborn child, aka Jesus, representing the perfect Christmas gift and blessing.
Ultimately, Yule is that time of the year where we witness the renewal of humanity.
In Persian culture, the Winter Solstice is called Yalda. This longest night in the year is a time to celebrate with friends and family, gather around fire and read poetry or prayers until far beyond midnight.
Fruits and nuts such as pomegranates or apples are traditionally eaten, due to their red color that symbolizes the dawn and glow of life. The blood of life itself, and the color of the Sun that defeats darkness.
Earlier on, in Roman traditions, the month of December was also the time of the year to celebrate the birth of the Holy Sun. This deity / primordial principle was oftentimes called Sol Invictus, or the undefeated Sun.
During the shortest days of the year, it is believed that surrounding ourselves with light and setting intentions for the rising of the Spring is an act of devotion and surrender to the cosmic flow of life.
Later on, the Roman festival Saturnalia became an important holiday, which was dedicated to the God Saturn. The Saturnalia Festival, a little like the old-timers Coachella, usually began on December 17.
Not only was this period one of joy and continual partying, but it was also full of gifts, carnivals and events that allowed Romans to break the usual social norms. As an example, after a sacrifice at the Temple of Saturn, slaves were given a table at their master’s house.
The Neoplatonist philosopher Porphyry interpreted this freedom Saturnalia granted as the symbol of how souls are being freed into immortality during this period where the Sun is being reborn. From the very center of darkness emerges the light. Through embracing this process of rebirth, we can be free.
Of course, later on, with the Christianisation of Europe, all of these Saturn or Golden Age based symbols were transferred to Christ, Jesus or God. Because of this, the Saturnalia festival heavily influenced the traditions and customs associated with Christmas and midwinter celebrations.
8 Rituals To Celebrate the Winter Solstice
Everyone celebrates the holidays differently. But if you’re living in the so-called “western world”, there’s already things you probably do with the end of the year celebrations that resemble the original Winter Solstice celebrations. Here’s a few additional ideas to include to your routine:
1. Decorate your home
Since the winter season invites us to retreat into the comfort of our inner worlds, our homes become center stage during this time of the year. And, if you’ve paid attention to my last article on Halloween rituals, you know damn well that your house should be well organized, clean and tidy by now.
What you can do now, after the seasonal house cleanse, is decorate it in order to invite the energies of the Winter Solstice into your life. For people who celebrate Christmas, this already happens when the Christmas tree is set up. This centerpiece acts like a magical altar that holds the intentions and wishes of the family.
P.S: Before I continue, I must say that I actually DO NOT advise you to buy or bring an actual Xmas tree. Not only is it bad for the environment to cut down trees, but it is also going to be dumped in the trash later on. Instead, you can find tree alternatives that aesthetically pleasing and eco-friendly at the same time.
On your Christmas tree and all around your house, make sure to put cones, dried oranges, mistletoes, cinnamon, wood, red and green colored items as well as trinkets and charms that represent what you want this end of the year to feel like for you.
2. Light a candle
It’s very important to sit in the dark during the Winter Solstice and getting comfortable with our own dark night of the Soul. At the same time, it’s also great to light a few candles after our meditation.
Candle magick is actually one of the easiest ways to connect to the Winter Solstice energy because the flame of a candle is symbolic for the energy of the Sun. In turn, candles usually represent and symbolize light, warmth and consciousness.
Lighting candles around your house will not only help you attract the light energy, but also act as a container for your thoughts and intentions since burning a candle is a powerful magical spell all in itself.
As you light your candles, first make sure to always look out for safety. Second, always remember to set an intention. As an example, you could try burning a scented candle for the purpose of protection, love and harmony.
3. Create or bake a Yule Log
If you’re wondering what a Yule Log is, this is a tradition that was very important during this time of the year. This is especially true for the ancient Celts and Druids.
So, the Yule Log is a piece of wood that was carefully selected, cleaned and decorated. As the log was welcomed inside the house, it was then slowly burned over the course of 12 days with the intent of protecting the household.
If you want to find your own Yule log, make sure it’s clean and clear from moss, insects and worms. But, if you live in a city and can’t physically bring a piece of wood into your space, feel free to replace it with a Yule Log cake. This is a cheap, effective and yummy alternative to consider.
4. Have a feast
Speaking of eating, having a feast is by far the most common Winter Solstice tradition. Not only is gathering a time of warmth and closeness, but it’s also a ritual in itself.
An example of great things to bake and cook for your loved ones: fresh ingredients, fruits and vegetables of the season, apples, cinnamon, ginger, honey, nutmeg, oranges, etc.
If you’re hosting the feast, make sure to make your dishes with love and pick the ingredients according to their symbolism. As an example, baking an apple pie is great for attracting abundance and prosperity. This is due to the fact that apples come naturally in abundance in nature.
Lastly, if you’re spending this end of the year on your own, you can always bake for charity or for yourself! Get creative with it and do not wait for the company of others to treat yourself.
5. Plant a seed for Spring
As the Spring promises us to come back again, so does our wishes and manifestations. Part of honoring nature and its life and death cycles is understanding that sometimes, our goals and best intentions need more time to flourish.
The day we will plant the seed is not the same day we’ll eat the fruits. Every great project, relationship, reward or event follows this natural rhythm. This is probably why practicing gardening can be a great spiritual and self-development tool. When you look after a plant, you learn the art of patience and nurturing.
During the Winter Solstice, I recommend physically or spiritually planting a seed for spring. Not only will this allow you to get your hands dirty, but also tell your unconscious: “Take your time”. Give room for your dreams to manifest.
6. Gift giving
In honor of Saturnalia festival and the Christmas spirit, gift giving is a great way to celebrate the Winter Solstice. In Islam, it is said that “Giving gifts to others is a way to give love”. And this can’t be any truer. Gift giving is actually a love language, one of my own personal favorites actually!
When you give someone a gift, you’re giving your time, your energy and your money. And these are all parts of you. Hence, carefully choosing a gift, OR, better yet, making a handmade gift, can be very powerful.
Money can come and go, but time never flows backwards. So, do choose to offer handmade items over ready-made ones. The things you spent time making, picking or packaging will always be more precious, thoughtful and appreciated.
7. Relax, Relax, Relax
Winter teaches us the importance of slowing down and relaxing. Following in the footsteps of nature, we should allow ourselves to get cosy and feed our souls. In these chaotic times we’re living, it’s actually more than necessary for us and be a little more careful with our time, attention and presence.
Instead of giving your energy to others, focus on yourself, listen to your body and embrace silence. Embrace the lazy nights or mornings where all you want is to snuggle up in bed with a hot beverage.
Nature Does Not Hurry, Yet Everything Is Accomplished said Lao Tzu, and he is damn right! Take your time sister, and embrace the slow living philosophy.
During this Winter Solstice timeframe, it’s important to feel thankful to the abundance life has granted us. Take a look at the past 12 months and all you’ve accomplished!
Say thanks to the Universe for the roof over your head, the food on your plate and the healthy body you have. Give thanks to the people that support you, the means of transportation you use, the ground and soil beneath you. Be grateful for the clothes, the collaborations, the creativity… All of it!
However you want to give thanks, just say thank you often. For me as an example, I wanna say thank you to YOU, my dear subscribers, readers, business partners, customers, online friends and acquaintances. Thank YOU for being part of my journey.
To watch and listen to the recorded version of this article, make sure to check out this video on my YouTube channel:
There’s so many more activities you can try to celebrate this Winter Solstice. From meditating to reflecting on your spiritual growth over the past year. What’s important is to get lost in the spirit and magic of the season!
Allow yourself to bathe in this beautiful slow and dark, yet promising and abundant energy. Allow your soul to shine, and your inner brightness to guide you amidst these cold and dark nights. Your heart is the lamp that can lead you to the safe harbor. So follow that northern star of yours with faith and devotion.
Okay, now I want to hear from you! What Winter Solstice activities and traditions do you usually perform during this time of the year? Is there a particular practice I mentioned that you’re eager to try?
Wishing you a Merry Winter Solstice, Christmas and end of the year!
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