What is Winter Solstice?
The Winter Solstice, also known as Yule, marks the longest night of the year. Although it is the darkest night of the year, it is also seen as the return of the light. This day is often represented as the threshold of a new cycle. It’s a time to reflect and release the stories that no longer serve you so that you can step into this new cycle with clarity and intention.
“Solstice means ‘sun stands still‘ as at the darkest time of the year the pulse of life stops for a timeless moment, before the light can return and renew the energy of the earth. Traditional cultures around the world imagined that humans played a role in bringing the light back from the darkness. The rebirth of the sun reflects a potential awakening of the heart and soul of each person. When the light of the soul grows within us, it also contributes light to the world.” ~ Michael Meade
If you would like to create your own Closing the Year ceremony, you can use our platform to choose from secular and universal rituals to create a ceremony that feels like you. Over at our sister company Seeking Ceremony, Megan is hosting a free ceremonial swim in the sea to mark the Winter Solstice here in Vancouver, BC. We hope that wherever you are in the world, you find a way to acknowledge this time of change in a way that feels right to you.
Here are some rituals to draw inspiration from as you prepare to welcome the Winter Solstice and the return of the light.
Wassail is both a beverage and an activity. Wassailing is an ancient English Yuletide ritual where people brew hot mulled cider with spices and go door-to-door to wish neighbours good health and prosperity for the year ahead. People often pour some out on their beverage out into the earth as an offering and wish for a good apple harvest the following year.
Wassail means ‘To be in good health’ and this ritual is still practiced in modern day England. There are lots of great recipes out there; we love the one created by Tiny Ritual.
We invite you to take this ancient ritual and make it your own this holiday season. Here is our Ritual Recipe to guide you along the way:
Set an Intention: Reflect on your blessings and consider your intention as you brew your wassail. What are you hoping to release from the year gone by? What are you hoping to welcome in the year ahead? Why are you drawn to this ritual in particular; what meaning does it hold for you?
Brew Slowly: As you prepare all of these sensory ingredients, take your time. Light a candle, play some quiet music, and set the stage for a slowing down. Take a few deep breaths as you prepare the spices and ingredients, adding them slowly to your brew.
Pour Some Out: A libation, where you pour a small amount of your drink into the earth, is a beautiful way to acknowledge what you are honouring. This might be for your ancestors or someone who has died, for any grief you are holding, or to acknowledge your deep appreciation for the land and what it offers us. However you choose to remember, this simply action can give you a moment of pause and reflect.
Share Stories: One of our favourite ways to turn a solo ritual into a communal one is through storytelling. Invite some friends over as you brew your wassail and have everyone share an intention or story from the year gone by. Or go door-to-door and bring your neighbours a cup, asking them what they would like to honour or who they would like to acknowledge in that moment.
Invite your community to meet you somewhere that it’s safe to build a bonfire. Invite everyone to bring some logs or kindling with them so that the fire becomes a communal project. Here is our Ritual Recipe to guide you, and as always we invite you to make this your own:
Set an Intention: Every ritual needs a clear intention, otherwise it can become muddled with unrealistic expectations. We suggest distilling the intention down to one word or one sentence that captures why this bonfire is needed and what you hope it will bring.
Choose Your Ingredients: If you’re lighting a bonfire, choose the various ingredients you’ll be using carefully. Go for a walk and choose some fallen branches, or take some old paper that you can write on, recording the things you want to let go of in the fire.
Practice Presence: There is so much hustle and bustle this time of year, always moving onto the next thing. Use the power of the flame to draw your attention inward, focusing on the fire as a way of being still and present.
Share Stories: Nothing symbolizes a bonfire better than storytelling! Sit around the fire and share stories from the year gone by, or simply pose one question and let everyone answer in a way that feels right to them. You can focus on intentions for the year ahead, or meet people where they are at and ask them to share a story from their day.
However you choose to acknowledge this time of transition, invite ritual and ceremony into your Winter Solstice experience and welcome the return of the light! Check out all of the ceremonies you can create using Be Ceremonial’s unique ‘choose your own ritual adventure’ platform.