Note: This wonderful and inspiring blog post is brought to you by Annette, author of the blog Little Autumn Cottage. If you love magic, cozy, and hygge as much as I do, you will love to visit Annette’s blog!
Winter Solstice is only one week away! It falls on Friday, December 21st this year and marks the first day of winter. Being the longest night of the year, everyday after the Solstice will slowly grow lighter and lighter. It’s a time to celebrate that it won’t stay dark forever!
I am getting really excited to celebrate the turning of the season and welcoming it in!
There is something extra special about fall and winter to me. A lot of people dislike the cold weather, but I actually love it for so many reasons.
Food is warm, hearty, comforting and grounding. There are blankets all over my home, the Yule tree glows in the living room with its soft white lights. Yes, it is sometimes too cold where I live to spend much time out in nature, but that’s what makes it an important and special time of year. It’s a reminder to go inward, and that we cannot be on the go constantly. Our natural rhythms ebb and flow.
It’s as if the weather is giving me permission to slow down and enjoy the little things. I love being wrapped in a blanket while sipping on hot cider and reading a book.
I think it is important to appreciate each season for their purposes, even when the weather is less than favorable. Finding meaning and purpose in everything creates a mindset of gratitude, which can only make life better.
I have been brainstorming some fun ideas lately for how my family can celebrate Winter Solstice this year and felt excited to share with you!
If you’re looking for some ideas yourself, here are a few to get you started:
MAKE DRIED ORANGE SLICES
I made these last year for the first time and it was so much fun! Plus baking them makes your home smell heavenly. Keep in mind that it is a long process, so you’ll want to pick a day when you have nothing else going on.
The oranges are a visual way to represent the sunshine. It’s a nice way to brighten up your home when it’s dark outside. You can decorate your tree with them, make a garland, accessorize a wrapped gift for a pretty finishing touch…however you choose to use them, they’re stunning and cheerful!
Here’s how to make them and what you’ll need:
- 2-4 naval oranges (or more depending on how many slices you want)
- ground cinnamon (optional)
- baking sheet
- parchment paper, baking rack or cooking spray
- Brown twine or string of choice if making ornaments
1. Preheat oven to 200 degrees, then line baking sheet with parchment paper, a baking rack or spray the pan with your nonstick spray. Last year I used a rack, but I think this year I will try parchment. I’ve also read that you can put them directly on the oven rack, but I don’t really want to make any messes, personally.
2. Slice your oranges in about 1/4″ slices. If you wish for them to dry faster, cut a little thinner.
3. Line the orange slices in a single layer on the baking sheet. If you wish for them to smell like cinnamon you can sprinkle ground cinnamon on top. I did this last year. It smelled really nice but I didn’t love the color so I will skip it this year.
4. Bake for up to 6 hours, or until they are completely dry. Check them every hour or two. If you feel like you need to turn them, that’s fine occasionally.
5. Once they are totally dry, remove from the oven and allow them to cool completely.
Like I mentioned above, you can get creative with them and decorate however you like around the home! Last year I made a little garland and strung it with a branch of holly. It made my kitchen feel so festive and lovely! I enjoyed making ornaments as well, and attached a cinnamon stick with brown twine to it. It’s a beautiful, rustic, inexpensive and natural way to decorate for winter solstice and the holidays.
USE CANDLES FOR LIGHTING
Winter Solstice is celebrating the returning of the sun so candles are a good way to represent the fire element, plus they look gorgeous! We like to bring out as many candles as we can, light them all and turn out the other lights before the kids go to bed. If we had a fireplace I would love to burn a Yule log, but until then I will enjoy candles! This is a fun time to sing carols and cuddle by the tree.
COOK A SPECIAL MEAL OR BAKE A TREAT
I don’t make a huge feast for Winter Solstice because it is a few days before Christmas. My family usually makes a lot of food Christmas Eve and then a special dinner Christmas Day. With that said, I do love to make something special for the first day of winter. I’m all about good food and spending time in the kitchen with my babies and handsome bearded hubby.
Here are a few ideas for some food you can make together as family:
- Chicken or veggie pot pie
- Chowder or soup
- Shepherds pie
- A round or sun shaped loaf of bread
- Sugar cookies shaped like the sun
- Sweet orange rolls (see the orange theme going on here? )
- A Yule log roll (I haven’t made one yet but am itching to!)
- Hot cocoa
HAVE A LITTLE YULETIDE RITUAL
This one is for kids that are old enough to write. You can also do it alone or with your spouse after the little ones go to bed.
It is my favorite way to set goals for the new year. Instead of just writing down a super long list of things that I may not be able to follow through with, I make a smaller more approachable one.
It’s not only about making goals, but also reviewing the past year and things that I am ready to release, move on from and heal.
How to have a Winter Solstice Ritual:
- Start by lighting a few candles in your meditation/sacred space. If you don’t have one, you can use your table, or any surface you have available. Anything works!
- Set out two pieces of paper, a pen or pencil, and a fireproof dish. (make sure to open a window for ventilation)
- Meditate for 5-10 minutes to get into a nice relaxed state.
- When you’re finished meditating, reflect on your whole year. Was there something that you are ready to release? Do you have any habits you wish to quit? Be honest, but kind to yourself. This isn’t about guilt but growth.
- Put your list into the flame of a candle and set it in your fireproof dish. Burning your paper is symbolic of letting the things go that you wrote down. Imagine feeling a weight being lifted off of your shoulders.
- Next write down things that you’re wanting to bring into your life in the new year. Set goals and imagine yourself doing things that will fulfill you on a deeper level, and being the person you want to. What do YOU want? When you’re finished writing down your intentions, light the paper on fire and allow it to burn in the fireproof dish.
- Breathe deep and feel gratitude for your life and ability to create it how you want to.
READ WINTERY CHILDREN’S BOOKS
This is a new one for me! I went on amazon to see what winter solstice children’s books were available. I was so excited that there were such cute ones for good prices!
I purchased the two shown above in the photo. The art is beautiful in both and I love how they explain seasonal changes to little ones. I think it’s important for kids to appreciate the earth we live on, and be aware of the little things. I can’t wait to light some candles and cuddle up with my babies and these books!
I hope this post helps you to feel excited for winter and maybe inspired you to try something new this year!