This post was update December 2023.
Winter Solstice marks the day with the fewest hours of daylight here in the Northern Hemisphere. It also heralds the beginning of winter. The solstice takes place when the North Pole is tilted the farthest from the sun, usually on December 21st (sometimes on December 20, 22 or 23rd). To figure out the exact time of the Winter Solstice in your area plug in this quick internet search: winter solstice time [+ current year]. Voila! It should be easy to find. Even though Winter Solstice occurs at a single moment, we make it into a full day of celebration. We embrace the darkness, remembering that from this day onward daylight increases with each and every day – hurrah!
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Celebrating Winter Solstice with your Children
Winter Solstice has captivated people for millennia and celebrations have spanned ages and religions. Here is a fun list of ideas and traditions for celebrating the Winter Solstice with your children.
1. Go on a winter solstice stroll outside.
The Winter Solstice is an astronomical event so what better way to celebrate than to go outside. If the Winter Solstice falls on a weekday take a quick a stroll around your neighborhood or visit local park after school. If it’s dark bring a flashlight or headlamp and make it into a special nighttime adventure.
2. Explore the first day of winter with a winter scavenger hunt.
Print this free Winter Nature Scavenger Hunt, head out into nearby nature and search for signs of winter together.
3. Read a picture book about the winter solstice.
Winter Solstice is a wonderful opportunity grab a book and cozy up under the blankets for some read-aloud time. Check out my new list of winter solstice picture books for kids!
4. Make a winter solstice lantern.
Lantern Festivals are a popular Winter Solstice tradition that you can recreate on a smaller scale at home. Spend some time with your children making a lantern, and host a little parade around your yard or down your street. Invite your friends and neighbours to join in on the fun.
- Wool felted lantern using a balloon or mason jar.
- Ice lantern.
- Paper lantern.
- Glass jar lantern using fabric, doilies, paper or kite paper.
- Tin can lantern.
- Plastic lantern using old milk jugs.
5. Decorate an outside tree with edible treats for wild animals.
Celebrate the Winter Solstice by giving back to nature. One fun tradition is to decorate a tree outside with edible treats for wild animal. Here are some ideas:
- Homemade popcorn and fresh cranberries garland.
- Sliced oranges, apples, pears, carrots or parsnips hung on strings.
- Cookie cutter bird seed ornaments.
- Orange birdseed ornaments.
- Pinecone bird feeder with peanut butter or lard (fat)
6. Bake a Yule log (bûche de Noël).
The tradition of the Yule log dates back to Europe’s Iron Age when families would burn a decorated log to clear the air of the year’s event and to usher in spring. Over time this tradition has changed, and today we bake Yule log cakes instead – yum!
7. Eat a winter solstice feast by candlelight.
Invite your friends and family over and enjoy a Winter Solstice feast by candlelight. Below are some simple winter inspired recipes. For more food ideas check out my Winter Solstice Pinterest page.
- Roasted butternut squash soup.
- Crab cakes.
- Oven roasted chicken with lemon rosemary garlic butter.
- Roasted root vegetables.
Before or after your meal say a special winter poem or prayer.
8. Make a winter spiral.
A winter spiral, also called an Advent spiral, is a popular Waldorf tradition of making a large spiral on the ground with natural items like evergreen branches, sticks, pine cones and rocks and walking through the spiral with a lantern or light. This tradition symbolizes moving into the darkness and while shining our inner light. Learn how to make a winter spiral here.
9. Cozy up by a fire with a warm drink.
Grab a blanket, a warm drink and cozy up by a fire with your loved ones. An outside bonfire is magical, a crackling fireplace is lovely too. If neither is an option watch a fireplace video online!
- Mull wine recipe.
- Traditional English Wassail recipe.
- Slow Cooker Wassail recipe.
- Kid Friendly Wassail recipe.
- Fireplace Video.