Ideas for Observing the Winter Solstice

| December 21, 2018 | 29 Comments

Winter lonely treeDecember 21 marks the winter solstice, which is the shortest day of the year. In different places and in different families, the first day of winter might be called Yule or the Longest Night. If you are celebrating Hanukkah or Christmas, you are probably busily distracted, but if you have the chance, it might be nice to take some time to observe the winter solstice with your family. Here are some ideas:

  • Rely on candlelight after dark. Particularly during this busy time, it is nice to just shut off any electronics and background noise and focus on the darkness of the longest night of the year. Once the sun goes down, light candles (we don’t use real ones we use the fake battery operated ones to keep everyone safe) and talk about why the day was so short. (If you need a kid-friendly explanation, try this one on FactMonster.) Plan on doing something that you can do each year; if you live in an area where it’s warm, perhaps making s’mores in a firepit would be fun for everyone. If you live where it’s cold, you may need to use your fireplace for this!
  • Consider using the winter solstice as a day to give something freely to someone else. While many families volunteer and write checks to the less fortunate this time of year, some get too busy with shopping, wrapping, menu-planning and other aspects of the season. Consider things like handing out sandwiches or care packages containing hygiene items to the homeless in your area (for safety’s sake, it’s a good idea to do this through your area’s homeless coalition rather than approach strangers on the street). Or, ask at a local nursing home about residents who aren’t expecting visitors for Christmas; perhaps you and your children could bring a few small gifts and simply spend time chatting with these people who are undoubtedly missing their families.
  • Do something that you might have been planning to do anyway, but simply hadn’t taken the time for. Decorate a tree for the birds with cranberries, popcorn, orange slices and birdseed ornaments, for example. Or plan a special read-aloud; our family likes to read Laura Ingalls Wilder’s The Long Winter at this time of year; you could also read the Biblical accounts of the first Christmas, or something else that could become a tradition as the years go by.

Do you have special plans to observe the winter solstice? What are they?

Comments (29)

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  1. sara m ford says:

    Very true I think going to the hospital or nursing home just to visit someone you dont know is a great thing to do. Take your kids show them how much it dose for someone just to have a talk or get a small gift. Some places let you bring in animals witch help so much or reading to a child all can help

  2. cathy henatyszen says:

    today is the big day… sun rises late, sets early… and it’s cold out there…

    happy holidays to all…

  3. denise smith says:

    i love the idea of candlelight after dark have a happy holiday

  4. Jo-Ann Brightman says:

    This winter solstice I’m hoping that the Mayans were wrong!! If it is a nice evening we look at the stars.

  5. Julie Wood says:

    I forgot that it is the Winter Solstice today! The shortest day of the year! So far winter has not really come to my City. We are having a mild winter so far! I hope that we do not get a lot of snow like the other states are getting right now!

  6. Toni Cosgrove says:

    Just want to stop all the craziness and snuggle with the kids,,read,, watch a movie..and enjoy the longer night…we are kind of night owls anyhow…thanks for the reminder

  7. darlene bohannon says:

    the winter solstice here was beautiful with our first big snow.

  8. Terri says:

    Well, it looks like the Mayans were wrong… 🙂 Thanks goodness!!! I would have hated to miss Christmas! I love your candlelight idea…it seems like it would be relaxing…

  9. also my sister’s birthday

  10. Karen Glatt says:

    The Winter Solstice is here! I like the thought of feeding the birds, and reading a good book. There are so many nice ways to celebrate the Winter Solstice!

  11. Kay Culver says:

    It’s my sister’s birthday so every year we have fun teasing her that she has the shortest daylight to celebrate, so you have to figure out how to celebrate in the dark. 🙂

  12. Mary Blanton says:

    This was very interesting and had some interesting ideas in it. Thanks for all the great ideas. I think I’ll spend it with turning the computer off now and visiting with my family.

  13. Stephanie Larison says:

    I think it’s important to keep those relationships close. Take the time needed to keep them going, remember whats important.

  14. Holly Trudeau says:

    I love this -“Do something that you might have been planning to do anyway, but simply hadn’t taken the time for.” There’s so much that I’ve been wanting to get done but due to kiddos, work and time constraints it just gets pushed off! Now that daddy’s going to be home for two weeks mommy is going to get stuff done! 🙂

  15. She says:

    Ready for all the hectic holiday rush to be over so we can enjoy the spirit of the holidays with my family & friends. Me & my girls played in the house today and they had quite a time..it was fantastic.

  16. Terri Betz says:

    Love this post! We celebrated Winter Solstice at our house yesterday! Thanks for posting this article! It made me feel really good about the Solstice!

  17. Jennifer Kreisler says:

    I just said Happy Hannukah to my sister. She said Happy Winter Solstice to me. LOL I converted to Orthodox Judaism and she became a witch. My mom is so proud! xo! I love that the kids TV show Dinosaur Train– celebrated winter Solstice! Cool Huh?!

  18. Sandra Blanton says:

    I find this strange to have read this this morning. I don’t like winter time. I hate not being able to sit on the porch in the warm sunshine and watch the kids play while I have my coffee.I live with my mom to take care of her and she was just admitted to the nursing home for physical therapy on Thursday.The first night of coming back here after visiting with her was the most lonesome feeling. I hadn’t been home but maybe 30 minutes and the electric goes off. That took, phone, cable and internet. At first it was very upsetting, couldn’t get outside( to cold), after lighting the candles and just sitting down and resting and praying, It was such a peaceful and quiet and relaxing time for me..

  19. Jessica Locastro says:

    Neat to read about

  20. Dorothy Boucher says:

    i like to enjoy family time with a board game, or us just telling stories to each other over hot coco and popcorn.

  21. Tracy Allen says:

    Love the candles after dark idea – that would really focus them on a new experience

  22. Sarah L says:

    I celebrate the returning of the light with candles and music.
    Happy Solstice!

  23. lisa lo says:

    At my house it’s better to have led candle light for safety. The outdoor birds also adore cracked corn which I put out daily. It’s always fun to see them.

  24. kelly nicholson says:

    got to keep the camera ready..love the season!

  25. ANN*H says:

    Yes we’ve all been busy thinking of Christmas and all .I think this is a good list of things to do tho for winter solstice and actually it would be nice to do these things thru out the year at different times . We need to enjoy life and our family and the birds around us every day

  26. krista grandstaff says:

    Great post 🙂 we celebrate Yule… AND Christmas.. it’s a great reminder to slow down and take a little time

  27. Kathy Idol says:

    Thanks for sharing. Just going to enjoy & spend some needed time with my wonderful husband.

  28. TO BE VERY TRUTHFUL I HAD NOT THOUGHT OF SOME OF THESE IDEAS. I LIVE IN VERMONT AND IT IS BRAGGED THAT WE HAVE THE LEAST PROBLEMS, BUT I CAN TELL YOU THERE ARE HOMELESS PEOPLE, CHILDREN WITH DISABILITIES AND THE ELDERLY ARE ARE MANY IN VERMONT. I KNOW I LOVE HELPING AND GIVING. MAYBE MY CHRISTMAS BLUES OVER MY DAD PASSING LAST DECEMBER WILL LIGHTEN UP IF I HELP. THANKS FOR SHARING:)

  29. Debby says:

    It passed me right by this year. Two days later I realized it was officially winter.

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