Winter Solstice Family Ideas
I get asked a lot how i celebrate the winter solstice and christmas time with my family.
I thought id pop some ideas for you in a blog.
The winter solstice is the day of the year when the day is shortest of the year the night the longest. It is a sun festival, where we welcome the return of the sun. To our ancestors the longest night may mean the sun may not return.
Within druidry it the time of the fight between the Holly King and the Oak king once more, at summer the Holly King wins, but in winter the Oak king wins. The Oak king returns the summer, and new growth in the lands.
Yule is often the following day, a day our Norse ancestors celebrated winter.
People would still bring in greenery to decorate their homes, bring joy, protection, and to honour the greenery that survives winter.
For the druids its a time the first mistletoe is cut, not to touch the ground until the winter solstice. It is a sacred plant, once thought to be the seed of the gods fallen from the sky onto the branches. In our ceremony we then each take a cutting to bless our homes, hearths and lives.
That was a brief history. Of course theres the questions around whether Christmas was once on this day, and the church moved it to encourage pagans to convert more easily to Christianity...but im happy to just let everyone believe what they believe. After all its a time of a huge mix of thousands of years of mid winter festivities, its about bringing light, and cheer back into winter, survival and hopes.
Winter was harsh for our ancestors, we have no idea how harsh these days.
Ideas for celebrating the solstice:
☀️ Find a yule log to decorate and burn on the solstice.
❄ Make festive decorations from fresh greenery - but please pick it respectfully. A festive tree was very likely a pagan tradition once too!
☀️ Open some gifts on yule instead of the 25th. (I do my full festivities on this day now).
❄Learn the story of the Holly and the Oak Kings battles over solstice.
☀️Do a ceremony either on your own, or with your family. You could go to a sacred site.
In ancient tradition, we were animistic, and through the harsh times of winter the joy of a big feast and honouring of all food people had eaten took place.
❄You could create an animistic 'bear feast' in which to honour everything you have consumed this year, plant, and animal.
It was once a time of gratitude, and hopes for our ancestors who were animistic.
A hunt each winter and a bear would feed, clothe them for a long time.
How times change, our struggles today are often financial over consumerism. Its not survival in the same way, we dont know where our food comes from most of the time, we dont have to make our clothes from the animal skin, or plant fibres. We have no idea what its like to live the life our ancestors experienced.
So after this year, a year thats shocked and shaken humanity. Id like to suggest a bear feast idea to you for yule /winter solstice, or while your eating your christmas food.
Set up a space for meditation.
Take a few deep breaths to centre yourself.
🕯Then think of every meal you have eaten this year, all the clothes youve bought, the 1000s of plants, perhaps 100s of animals, and send your deep gratitude for their lives. Our ancestors would honour everything they ate.
🕯Think also of all your loved ones, and people you have seen. Send them love and gratitude for your shared experiences. What have you learned from each other?
🕯Then think of all those you know of who have passed over this year, even people you haven't met. Life is a web of wyrd, we are all connected. Send them love and their families love and gratitude.
Then on the same evening you choose do this go outside and stand under ursa major, the great she bear, the same constellation our ancestors would have stood under too at this time.
☀️Light a candle every night from now until the soltice, then keep one burning (safely) through the night to celebrate and pray for the return of the sun.