How to Celebrate the Winter Solstice

Words by Keagan Perlette

Photo by Daniel Eliashevsky.

The winter solstice is an ancient holiday that celebrates a pivotal point in the cycle of the seasons. Celebrated on the longest night of the year, typically December 21, the winter solstice celebrates the return of the sunlight that will come with the slowly lengthening days ahead.

Winter solstice celebrations can offer you a reprieve from the stress and bustle of the rest of the holiday season. It’s a great way to connect with your chosen family and close friends. Solstice traditions encourage you to engage in heart-centered activities like connecting with nature, your loved ones, and yourself. Here are a few time-honored traditions you might want to incorporate in your own winter solstice rituals.

Let the light in

Though the winter solstice happens in darkness, it’s really a celebration of the sun and the life-giving warmth of fire. Lighting white candles and gathering around a fireplace or outdoor bonfire are ancient traditions that you can bring to your own solstice event. Their light reminds us that no matter how dark it might get, the sun will always return. Firelight is also a wonderful way to purify and cleanse: you can burn a list of the things you’d like to let go of, or cast wishes for the future into the fire to give them power. Diffuse vitruvi’s seasonal blend, Fireside, to boost the ambience of your light-honoring rituals with its warm notes of Nutmeg, Cinnamon, and Fir.

Decorate with evergreen foliage

Evergreen trees are a centuries-old winter solstice symbol. It’s not hard to understand why coniferous plants are a mainstay of this winter holiday; their hardy nature means that the cold doesn’t cause them to lose their needles, staying green all year long. This is associated with the promise of the sun’s return in the springtime and the everlasting cycles of nature. Evergreen foliage can also prompt you to think about what’s constant in your life: what supports you even when change happens? To enhance the experience, diffuse woodsy Grove Essential Oil Blend while you reflect.

Make a bowl of wassail

Wassail is a spiced cider served hot. The drink has its roots in Yule celebrations, when the community gathered to exchange warm wishes and give offerings to their local orchard in the hopes of a good harvest come summer. The word “wassail” means “to your health.” There are many different recipes for wassail, but they typically include apple cider and spices like clove, cinnamon, and allspice. Wassail is traditionally alcoholic; you can use wine, ale, or mead and add a splash of bourbon, rum, or brandy to make a cozy cocktail that’s meant to be shared.

Honor the winter season

Many of us dread winter and the harsh weather that it brings. We spend a lot of time wishing it away or trying to escape to warmer climates, but it is a sacred part of the year and deserves appreciation. The winter teaches us about quietness and perseverance. We often associate this season with restfulness, but for our ancestors, winter was a time of intense survivalism when rest and activity had to be balanced very carefully. It challenges us to release the need to control our circumstances and to get clear on what actually requires our energy.

Set the intention to honor winter’s gifts and spend some time in nature during the short daylight hours on the solstice. Diffuse Afterglow Essential Oil Blend when you come back inside to warm up from the cold.

Connect with your inner being

Darkness allows us to get quiet and listen to ourselves. On the night of the winter solstice, take advantage of the early sunset and make some time for yourself before your celebration starts. This is a great opportunity to do a candle-gazing meditation and ground into your body. Acknowledging the solstice is about aligning with the cycles of nature; your body belongs to those cycles, just like a tree losing its leaves or a rabbit turning white. Journal a bit about the cycles you’ve gone through this year with the intention of connecting to them more intimately in the future.

Winter solstice celebrations are a wonderful way to build more meaningful routines into your year and take time to focus on what really matters to you. Personally significant rituals help us turn off autopilot and connect with the present moment, which enhances our wellbeing. So as the holiday season approaches, wassail and happy solstice.