A ritual to celebrate the winter solstice

In the Northern Hemisphere, the winter solstice occurs on December 22 and marks the day with the fewest hours of daylight in the year. Nadia Narain and Katia Narain Phillips share a ritual to celebrate the magic of the winter solstice and the annual transition into longer, lighter days.

Nadia Naran & Katia Narain Phillips
Sun rising over a hill covered in snow and trees

Just like the cycles of the moon, the changing of the seasons gives us another opportunity to tune into the natural world. In all cultures there are rituals and ceremonies that celebrate the qualitities of the seasons, and the moments when they peak or change.

Midwinter is traditionally a reflective, inward time of year. But it’s also a season when we find ourselves rushing around between festive shopping and holiday parties.

We like to take the winter solstice as a time to retreat from some of the more hectic holiday season activities, and allow ourselves to sink into a moment of reflection and renewal.

Although it is the night of the longest darkness, the winter solstice has also traditionally been a celebration of the light that is returning to us from this point onwards in the year. In different cultures that might mean lighting a yule log or a menorah.

How to celebrate the winter solstice on December 22

Large candle surrounded by small candles burning

In keeping with the contemplation of the season, we’d suggest you keep your winter solstice ritual domestic and intimate. It’s a great one to do alone or, if you’d like to share it, just invite a few close friends.

You will need one big pillar candle and as many small candles, or tea lights, as you can find. There should be at least one tea light per person.

  • Place the pillar candle in the centre of your altar or table. This is our sun candle, which represents the return of the light. Make sure the room is dark, and light only the pillar candle.
  • Either with your friends, or to yourself, thank the deep darkness of winter for its restoration and reflection.
  • Slowly take each tea light in turn and light it from the sun candle. Place the lit tea lights around the pillar candle in a circle.
  • When all the candles are lit, sit and contemplate what the return of the light means to you.

Rituals for Every Day by Nadia Narain and Katia Narain Phillips is out now.

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