What is Winter Solstice and How to Celebrate
What is Winter Solstice?
The Winter Solstice occurs when the Sun is directly over the Tropic of Capricorn (around -23.4° to -23.5°) and the North Pole is furthest from the Sun. For those of us in the Northern Hemisphere, we will experience the shortest day & longest night of the year during this time. The celebration of Winter Solstice has been around since the Neolithic period representing the Sun God with themes of light and dark.
What’s the difference between Christmas, Yule and Winter Solstice?
Christmas is the annual celebration of the birth of Christ on December 25th. Some scholars debate the December 25th date and argue that January 6th (Three Kings Day) is the real date of Jesus birth. Modern-day Christmas replaces the story of Jesus’ birth with that of the fictional character Old Saint Nick, which was modeled after Saint Nicholas, the Bishop of Myra. It is alleged that Saint Nicholas had a habit of gift-giving. So with Saint Nicholas as inspiration and the creative mind of caricaturist and political cartoonist Thomas Nast; Santa Claus was born.
Yule is the celebration of mid-winter by the Germanic peoples. The Old English word for Yule is ġéolor ġéohol and ġéola or ġéoli, which translate to a 12-day festival from November to January. Christians would later change it to Christmastide.
Winter Solstice (a.k.a Mid-Winter Sun) is an astrological event that marks the beginning of winter where the north pole is furthest from the Sun resulting in the shortest day and longest night of the year for people in the Northern Hemisphere. The Winter Solstice celebration goes back in time when ancient people thought the sun disappeared and wouldn’t return. In order to bring it back, they performed rituals involving fire and sometimes human and animal sacrifice. The Latin word for solstice is sol stetit which means “sun stands still”. This “standing still” of the sun marks the two times in the year where there was darkness (Winter Solstice) and light (Summer Solstice).
Different cultures and people around the world celebrate the Winter Solstice in some variation. Yule has been adopted by the modern pagan witch as their version of Christmas. Other mid-winter celebrations can be found in the Native American culture with Sha'lak'o by the Zuni and Sol-ya-lang-eu by the Hopi people. Even Christmas happens during the Winter Solstice. And if you want to go there...Old Saint Nick dressed in red, going down a chimney can also be seen as the rising and setting of the Winter Solstice sun.
How do I work with the Winter Solstice?
Winter Solstice is a great time to reflect on the year. However, we must be mindful of the current Mercury Retrograde that still affects us. You may feel compelled to make a drastic change. This is the best time of year for reflection not drastic changes. Keep a journal by your bed as you might start to dream of things you are fearful of, anxiety may overwhelm you. You'll want to jot down those dreams as they may contain messages. Work through those messages and keep note of any recurring themes.
How do I celebrate Winter Solstice?
1.Be mindful of the dark
There is light and dark in this world, in this life and sometimes we’re so busy going about our day that we don’t stop to appreciate it. So be mindful of the dark that Winter Solstice brings whether literal or philosophical. Sit in the dark, do nothing, just be for the day.
2. Spell Work: Face your fears
As you reflect on the past year, acknowledge the fears and darkness in your life.
- Take out a small piece of paper and write down all of your fears. Do not let anyone read your list. This is the time for you to face yourself.
- Once you’re done writing down all your fears. Light a small white candle. This candle is you, YOU will burn away those fears.
- Fill an abalone shell with sand.
- Light your candle.
- Take the piece of paper and place it over the lit candle and once it catches fire, place it on top of the sand in the abalone shell.
- As it disintegrates, mix it into the sand.
- Leave the candle on until it burns out. Do not leave candles on overnight or out of view. Please exercise caution when working with candles as they can cause fires.
- Take the mix outside and bury it in the dirt.
Skip the rituals; pick up your favorite wine and watch a witchy movie on Netflix. Light one white candle and acknowledge the dark anyway you please.
4. Have a Winter Solstice sleepover with your Bruja squad
Invite all your "woke" friends over for some spell work, scary movie, or an open discussion about reflection, facing your fears, the light and dark.
The Winter Solstice: The Sacred Traditions of Christmas by John Matthews