Winter Solstice is one of the most magical days of the year and has been celebrated by cultures around the world since time immemorial. From the pagan festivals around Europe to the Indigenous ceremonies in North, Central, and Northern parts of South America, the solstice marked a time of sacred celebration. Winter solstice marks the shortest day and the longest night of the year in the Northern Hemisphere and usually falls on or around December 21st.
What is the Winter Solstice?
Winter Solstice is the period of time when the Northern Hemisphere’s half of the Earth is tilted the farthest from the sun. During this time, less sunlight reaches the earth so there is the least amount of daylight. After the Winter Solstice, the days begin to grow longer each day until Summer Solstice, which is the longest day and the shortest night of the year.
Winter Solstice Spiritual Meaning
Winter Solstice symbolizes rebirth and renewal. It’s also a time to celebrate the return of the light and the sun. For many, winter solstice marks an excellent time of year to make big changes, set intentions, let go of things that no longer serve you, or change directions.
This year's Winter Solstice will take place on Thursday, December 21st, 2023, and it is the perfect time to connect with nature through ritual and intention. If you're looking for ways to celebrate this year's solstice, we invite you to indulge in a self-care Winter Solstice Ritual. These three Winter Solstice rituals are designed to cleanse and release that which no longer serves you, to connect with the natural world, and to celebrate both the darkness and the light.
Cleansing rituals can take many different forms. Winter Solstice week is a great time to stay in and spend some time cleaning and decluttering your home and space. During the long winter nights, we are much more likely to decide to stay in, cook delicious food at home, and cozy up with a good book, so why not ensure that your home is warm and inviting by spending a little extra time decluttering?
If you've stockpiled excess items this year, let this be an opportunity to clean your pantry and closet. Donate any gently used or new items you no longer need to your local food pantry - this time of year, they need more than ever.
When you clean out items that you no longer need and are taking up unnecessary space, you are helping to release stagnant or negative energy and create room for positive energy and new opportunities to flow into your life.
Once you've cleansed your home, it's time to cleanse your body, mind, and spirit. Ritual cleansing baths are the perfect way to help release - clearing away anything that no longer serves you. For an in-depth guide to bath rituals, check out our helpful DIY guide.
A few ingredients to include in your Winter Solstice Ritual Bath include:
A high-quality all-natural body oil like our Ceremonial Luxury Body Oil, which is formulated with sweet almond oil, calendula flowers, avocado oil, moringa oil, vitamin E, and a beautiful blend of fragrant essential oils
Natural herbs in your bath, like peppermint, sandalwood, cinnamon, and oranges, create a beautiful blend and harness the powers of plant magic.
Winter solstice is a magical time to get outside, spend some time in nature, and celebrate the seasons. If you live in a part of the world where temperatures remain mild, it's a wonderful day to wake up early and make the most of the time that the sun remains bright. Pack a picnic full of seasonal ingredients and head to a local park or beach to spend the day soaking up some warm rays, practicing gratitude for the sun's warmth.
If you live in a colder winter climate, bundle up in your warmest coat and head out for a winter hike. While you're out, try to notice the ways the earth is still alive and vibrant, even if it appears to slumber. You might see the pop of colors from evergreen trees, bright red berries, and ivy. Cold winters can be brutal for the animals and birds when food sources are scarce, so consider leaving them a small Winter Solstice blessing during your adventure. You can cover pine cones in additive-free peanut butter, dip them in wild bird seed, and hang them in a tree near your home for an all-natural bird feeder.
While out, consider foraging for materials to make some unique seasonal decor. Branches and sprigs from evergreen trees make beautiful natural decor, and you can use them to create garlands, wreaths, and floral arrangements for a gorgeous natural centerpiece for your table.
Many people suffer from a slump in the winter, and some may even develop SAD - seasonal affective disorder or seasonal depression caused by the reduced levels of sunlight and drops in serotonin. Spending time outdoors and exposure to sunlight can help ease these symptoms, as can movement and exercise from a nice brisk hike.
Light Candles to Celebrate the Return of the Sun
Once darkness falls on the night of Winter Solstice, take some time to reflect and honor both the darkness and the light with a candle-lighting ritual or a bonfire gathering. Burning candles and stoking fires throughout the longest night of the year is one of the oldest winter solstice traditions and can help you to appreciate modern conveniences like electricity and heated homes.
Even the most mundane activities become magical when performed by candlelight. Your winter solstice can be as simple as setting an intention for the year ahead as you light your Trust the Journey Intention Candle.Take a few moments as you hold your candle in your hands and hold your intention before lighting the candle. Breathe in the soothing aroma and watch the light flicker before going about your evening.
For a more intentional ceremony, consider inviting over a few of your close friends or family members and gifting them an intention candle. Place one candle in the center of a table and a candle for each person present at their seat. Gather around the table and turn off the lights. Take a moment to connect with the darkness quietly. Breathe into the silence.
Invite your guests to reflect on the times throughout the previous year when they felt the darkness - within themselves or the world as a whole. You can share the darker moments or silence them in your mind. When the time feels right, light the candle in the center of the table. Invite everyone to light their candles as you intentionally celebrate the return of the light. You can each share an intention, hope, prayer, or wish for the upcoming year or mention some things you're grateful for.
As an alternative to the candle lighting ceremony, you can create a fire ritual for release. This ritual can be performed with loved ones or solo. Build a fire in your fireplace or outdoors in a safe, enclosed location. Invite your guests to spend some time sitting around the fire and feeling its warmth, noticing the way it illuminates the darkness. Ensure each participant has a piece of paper and encourage them to write down a list of things that no longer serve you. These things can be relationships, personal belongings, or behaviors.
Write down anything and anything that feels right, and once you're finished, ask yourself and your guests if they are truly ready to let go of these things. Consider each thing you've written individually. When you're ready, throw the stuff you are ready to release into the flames. You can do so all at once with the entire paper, or one at a time, naming the item out loud or to yourself as you toss it into the fire. Allow the things you're ready to release to be consumed and transmuted by the fire when you're finished.
LAB.OTANICA team wishes you a happy Winter Solstice, and a year full of self-love, joy, and plant magic! Join our botanical community by following us on Instagram, TikTok, and Youtube, where founder Meleesa Luna shares tips and tricks for natural beauty and herbalism to help you love the skin you live in. May your winter be filled with love, light, and beauty!