Celebrating Winter Solstice

This year we have decided to give up Christmas. We have many different reasons for this. I don’t want to delve to deep into  our reasoning, simply because its not incredibly important to this post, but I will give a brief explanation.  I have recently started my journey as a Buddhist, and my husband is an atheist. We found it silly that we were celebrating the birth of a god we don’t believe in or worship. Secondly, it is far too commercial. Starting in October every store you walk into begins throwing Christmas EVERYTHING in your face, and all people care about is money, savings, sales, buying. It’s no longer about love, compassion and giving. So we have decided not to raise our children celebrating Christmas.

So for our winter-time ‘holiday’ we have decided to start celebrating winter solstice. It has been something that has appealed to me in the past so I decided to look further into it.

In short, the winter solstice is a celebration of light, nature, the sun and new beginnings. Solstice occurs on the shortest day of the year, or when the least amount of sunlight reaches the earth (December 21st or 22nd in the Northern Hemisphere). The sun seems to stand still. From this day forward in the year, the days will be longer and more full of light.

For more history on the solstice click here, here or here. (I will share more history with latter posts and ideas!)

Since its creeping up on us, I’d like to share with you our plans, some ideas, recipes and activities between now and then.

For those of you that think quitting Christmas and celebrating solstice is totally crazy, let me tell you our plan for the day-

Sleep in. Cook a nice breakfast. Exchange some gifts (not tons, and mostly homemade). Make bird feeders (as Delilah gets older, we will add more nature friendly activities). Start dinner. Then in the afternoon, about an hour before the sun sets, take a walk and hang our bird feeders in the woods for birds to nibble all winter. Then we will watch the sun set over the river. When we get back, we’ll light candles all over the house and drink wassail, have sun cake and some herbed cookies and enjoy a nice, hearty, dinner!

How could you not want to do that?? Even if you celebrate Christmas, solstice might be something to add into the festivities!!

For this post I’ll detail 3 things we’ll be doing!

Solstice Tree

In similar fashion to Christmas, we plan to have a small evergreen tree in the living room throughout December. But we plan to decorate it with homemade ornaments! Dehydrated orange slices with ground cinnamon and cloves, hung with ribbons and beads. Homemade ginger bread sun, bird and animal ornaments. A homemade tree topper in the shape of a sun. Twinkling lights (I would do traditional candles, but I don’t think our landlord will be OK with the fire hazard!)  Some red winter berries from a local farm and maybe some cranberries!

Very natural and beautiful.

Wassail

Wassail is a traditional cider/drink for solstice/yule. It can be alcoholic, but there are plenty of alcohol free recipes!! Wassailing was an ancient tradition where everyone would enjoy some drink in sing songs. We plan to use this recipe.

Gifts

We plan to give a few simple gifts. I’m making my daughter a teddy bear, we’ll give out homemade cookies to our neighbors, and family will get some knitted items, homemade bath items and foods. We will wrap them either in fabric, or recycled newspapers to help keep waste down and to add to the nature friendly aspect of the holiday.

I hope to add a few more posts throughout December highlighting a few other traditions of solstice and a few more ideas. If your celebrating leave a comment and let us know what your favorite aspect of solstice is!

If your looking for more inspiration for your own solstice celebration, you can follow my Pinterest board for solstice ideas!

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