Celebrating the Winter Solstice
The Winter Solstice marks the point at which the Sun reaches its minimum declination, marked by the shortest day of the year. The word solstice actually means ‘the Sun stands still’ because that is what seems to occur from our perspective on Earth. In 2022, the Winter Solstice in Australia will occur on Tuesday, June 21, at 20:14 Australian Eastern Standard Time (AEST).
Many cultures, religions and spiritual traditions have honoured the Winter Solstice over many centuries. Traditionally, this time of darkness has encouraged people to gather together to pause and reflect and celebrate the return of light. This can be seen in festivals and holidays throughout the ages such as Alban Arthan (Druidic), the Feast of Juul (Scandinavian), Dongzhi Winter Solstice Festival (Chinese) as well as solstice gatherings at Stonehenge (UK). In our part of the world, the popular Dark Mofo festival celebrates mid-winter in Tasmania with a range of solstice rituals and events.
In a spiritual sense, the Winter Solstice is an ideal time for rest and reflection. Whilst in meteorological terms it marks the point of mid-winter, according to the astronomical definition, the Winter Solstice represents the first day of winter. Whichever way we view it, it offers a time to pause and give gratitude for one’s blessings, whilst also putting in place intentions for the year ahead.
Fire and candles have traditionally played a large role in celebrating the winter solstice, as a reminder of the return of the Sun to come. You can embrace many of these ancient traditions in your own home, creating a beautiful atmosphere for peace, reflection and mindfulness. Below are some of my favourite ideas for celebrating the solstice, which you can do alone or share with others. Borrowing themes from ancient celebrations, these simple rituals are wonderful ways to mark this special time of year.
- Meditate in quietness on your achievements over the year. Focus on what you have received and experienced, expressing gratitude for your blessings. You may like to enhance your meditation by sitting in soft candlelight.
- Burn some essential oils and write down your hopes and dreams for the year ahead, as greater lightness returns. Essential oils which provide a warming and peaceful atmosphere include cinnamon, frankincense, lavender and sweet orange, or you can use any essential oils which appeal to you.
- Invite family/friends over to share a warming winter meal, such as soup or a stew. Light a fire if you have one or eat by candlelight to bring in the energy of the coming warmer days.
- Take a mindful walk through nature, whether that be parkland, forest, by the beach or simply through your neighbourhood, connecting to the rhythms of the Earth and its changing seasons.
- Take time to declutter your belongings and surroundings, and pass on anything you have that you no longer need. In this way we are letting go of what we may no longer use and sharing with others.
You may wish to embrace one or several of these ideas, or you may have your own way of marking our shortest day. Whatever you choose to do, celebrating the Winter Solstice, and the coming return of lighter, longer days, is a wonderful opportunity to pause and reflect. In doing so we can connect with ourselves and others and become part of the rhythms of nature.
By Kerrie Clayton
Kerrie has been a member of the AHHCA for 10 years and is currently part of its Committee of Management. She is a qualified Holistic Health Practitioner and Reiki Master. Kerrie may be contacted via www.wellnesswithkerrie.com