For the last several years, we've been celebrating the winter solstice as a family (because with a birthday and Christmas and New Year's, there aren't enough celebrations in December... :). Last year my brother hosted a solstice party with hearty French onion soup for supper, a bonfire outside, and snow angels and fun in the snow. We're looking forward to another party at my brother's on Friday evening and they're even calling for snow! (fingers crossed)
This year's solstice is officially today - December 22nd. Celebrating the shortest day of the year and the coming of the sun's light has been a meaningful experience for our family. We have paused to think about people for whom this IS a long night - people who are suffering or homeless, people going through hard times, people who have lost loved ones. We have lit candles, sung songs, eaten marshmallows around a fire, prayed, laughed, played, and watched festive movies in our new pjs.
Traditionally, the yuletide was a time to set aside animosities. In Norse tradition, enemies met under a bough of mistletoe to lay down their weapons and declare a truce. So many festivals of light (Hannukah, Christmas, Kwanzaa) are celebrated around December 21st - people gather to celebrate while the sun is miraculously making its way closer to us in the northern hemisphere again - another reason for celebration.
I've heard of other ideas for celebrating the winter solstice:
* turn off the lights in the entire house and eat dinner by candlelight
* make beeswax candles
* give out new pajamas to get everyone through the longest night of the year
* have a bonfire, sing songs, eat roasted marshmallows
* make tin can luminaries
* sing songs about light, like "This little light of mine," "Siyahumba," "Walking in the light," "Children of the light"
* make sugar or gingerbread cookies cut into "light" shapes like candles and stars and suns
* wear glow-in-the-dark bracelets and necklaces from the dollar store
* use glow-in-the-dark fimo sculpting clay or glow-in-the-dark acrylic paint for crafts
* go carolling/wassailing
* offer some wassail (glorified mulled cider with optional brandy) to friends and neighbours
* say a yule prayer at the evening meal, in thanksgiving for all of the year's blessings and in mindfulness of those who have less
Below is our little home movie made in tribute to the turning of this season. The girls are singing the chorus to "Children of the light": We are children, children of the light, we are shining, in the darkness of the night, hope for this world, joy through all the land, touch the heart of everyone, take everybody's hand." The song that's played after that is "The Solstice Carole" written by the Wyrd Sisters, sung by saffie.