The days are growing shorter as the winter solstice draws near. In my part of the world, the sun is rising close to 8 am and setting before 4:30 pm. It leaves very little time to see the garden, let alone work in it, on weekdays when we are scrambling to keep it all together. Thankfully the winter garden doesn’t need a careful eye.

winter-solsticeRegardless of how hectic life is right now, I do make a point every year to mark the darkest day of the year on December 21st (like a good little hippie…). That might be as simple as working in the cold garden alone on that day during the brief hours of crisp daylight. Or it might mean inviting friends over to share a winter feast.

My favorite tradition is about pausing to reflect on what the darkest and lightest moments were of the last year. Take a moment on the winter solstice to do this silently on your own, or adopt the event below to share it with friends.

Everyone lights a candle from a central candle on the table. One by one, each person then shares their darkest moment of the year (or just take a moment of silence if you’d rather keep it private). After each person shares, they blow their candle out. At the end, the room is dark and still.

candleThen one by one, each person takes a turn to relight their candle. The first person lights their candle from the one on the table. They then share the lightest moment of their year. Each person follows by lighting their candle from the person sitting next to them, then sharing their lightest moment.

After everyone has shared their darkest and lightest moments, people hold hands as everyone makes a silent wish for what they hope to be the lightest moment of the coming year.

I can’t invite you over for a winter solstice meal with me this year, so instead I will share my darkest and lightest moments with you here.


My darkest moment of the year was getting the news that a loved one has been diagnosed with stage four cancer.

My lightest moment of the year was getting my first job with a landscape architecture firm.

You are welcome to share your dark and light moments here if you choose. Or perhaps you have another winter solstice tradition you want to share? Whatever your traditions this season, I wish you a year full of many moments of light.

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Written by Renee Wilkinson