Celebrating the Winter Solstice is my escape from the holiday frenzy that reaches it’s peak about this time. I am excited to see my extended family come together for Christmas in a few days, but the Solstice reminds us to slow down, savor and celebrate the simple aspects of our beautiful life. Here are some ideas on how you can celebrate the darkest day and longest night of the year on December 21st/22nd.
The main structure to our annual celebration is sharing a meal. We center our Solstice meal around what is seasonally available. It’s not a perfect match, but rather a guiding theme. In and around Oregon winter brings us delicious Dungeness crab, oysters, clams and mussels.
We pile up some combinations of those goodies and round out the meal with simple sides – arugula salads, winter squash, hearty breads and cheeses, dark beer and full-bodied wine. And we’re not above importing some delicious items from our neighbors in California, like avocados and their winter citrus crops.
Whatever you choose to eat, keep it simple and somewhat seasonal and you’ll be on the right track.
I love incorporating a little ritual into the meal and encourage you to do the same. It could be a prayer, a poem or simply holding hands around the table and making a silent wish for the year ahead.
We each blow out a candle as we think about the darkest moment of the year we’re leaving behind: a struggle, loss, heartbreak, etc. Then we each take a turn relighting our candle as we direct our hope to bright moments ahead: a new baby, friendship, travels, whatever the case may be. The Winter Solstice, after all, means that tomorrow there will be more light ahead.
In addition to a beautiful meal, get outside to embrace the darkest day of the year. Some years we have taken a wintery hike on the Solstice. Other years we have just spent some time in our wintery garden puttering.
Winter is a powerful time of year and one that can be just as stunning as the light of summer, if we only look closely enough.
Above all, my favorite part of celebrating the Winter Solstice is the magic that happens when you gather loved ones together. Some years we have a boisterous crowd of merry-makers. Other years it’s just our small family celebrating quietly. But always it’s spent with people we cherish making memories that keep us warm through the winter.
However your Winter Solstice celebration takes shape, I hope it’s a day filled with brisk air, warm food and tightly-knit loved ones. I would love to hear more about how you celebrate the day, so feel free to share your story in the comment below!