The 21st of December is the Winter Solstice in the Northern Hemisphere. It is the shortest day of the year and is considered the official first day of winter. Throughout history, people around the world have celebrated this day in different ways. Today, many of these celebrations have been overshadowed by other holidays, but there are still fun ways you can ring in the first day of winter with your loved ones.
1. Gather with friends
Many of the items on this list involve different projects and ways to celebrate, but celebrating the first day of winter can be as easy as gathering with your friends and family, playing games, dressing up, and having an enjoyable evening! Nothing fancy, just good times.
2. Have a lantern-making party
Many people chose to celebrate the solstice by bringing light to the longest period of darkness in the year. One way to do that was to have lantern-making parties. Invite your friends, neighbors, and communities to learn how to make lanterns, then walk with the lanterns around your neighborhood, helping bring light to your community. Here’s a great tutorial on how to make paper lanterns.
3. Make a wreath
Spreading light isn’t the only way to celebrate. If lanterns aren’t your thing, have a wreath-making party with your friends! While you make your own wreaths, talk about the things from this year that you’re thankful for, what you hope for next year, and reflect upon nature’s cycles and the lessons they can impart. Here’s a great tutorial for making a wreath!
4. Have a bonfire
If you want to really bring back the light on the darkest day of the year and lanterns aren’t really your speed, have a bonfire! Celebrating with a fire is a great way to light up the area and celebrate the warmth and light of the sun.
5. Decide on a resolution
The start of a new season is a good time to look back on the last season (and the year as a whole) and think about what it is that you want to accomplish this winter and next year. Now is the time to start thinking about New Year’s resolutions!
6. Stay up all night
Some cultures chose to have a party that lasted the whole night of the solstice. They would stay up and celebrate until the sun rose, in recognition that most things in life are cyclical
7. Celebrate Saturnalia
The ancient Romans celebrated Saturnalia somewhere between the 17th and 24th of December. Saturnalia was a time where the roles of society were flipped and the balance of power would change places. Maybe throw a party and let the kids decide what crafts, food, and games are played!
8. Clean up and get organized
The first day of winter is a chance for a new beginning. Take some time to clean up your space and get a little bit better organized. Lay out goals and resolutions for the upcoming year. Let go of old things that you no longer need.
9. Light candles and enjoy some peace and quiet
If you’re really just not that into celebrating and enjoy quiet nights at home, you can still enjoy the shortest day of the year in your own way. Light some candles, put on some music, cozy up and grab a good book!
10. Decorate trees
Decorating Christmas trees stems from a Pagan tradition of decorating trees with bright, shiny decorations, candles, and lamps around the time of the solstice. You may have a tree inside your house already decorated, but consider maybe setting aside some ornaments for your outdoor trees to bring that spirit to your neighborhood.