Six Winter Solstice Celebration Ideas & a Practice for Lament


For Seekers – Practices for Soul & Spirit – Seasonal Observances

To celebrate the Winter Solstice you are invited to do what best suits your soul. Some spend the day in solitary quiet. Others gather around celebratory bonfires with many friends and family. 

As the Solstices are generally not recognized on public or work calendars, you may have to find ways to work into a day when you still have responsibilities. Here are some suggestions to select, combine, adapt, or tweak to fit your needs: 

Spend some time outdoors communing with what is happening in the winter world as well as sun and moon. 

The holiday arises from a natural event—the moment when the earth reaches its maximum tilt away from the sun, and in the next moment starts tilting back toward sun—so finding a way to connect with nature is aligned with the meaning and mystery of what springs from the Solstice moment. 

You might want to make a trip to a special place or just be sure to step outside your office building and look up at the sky. Let the wisdom of the natural world seep into your senses and inform your consciousness. Let this guide your honoring of the day and season. 

Find a Solstice Seed of the New that you will nurture throughout the coming year. 

The Solstice Seed is a wisdom image that you contemplate and work with as a practice throughout the year. You can find your Solstice Seed by pulling a Tarot card, remembering a dream image, or observing an animal on the Solstice. Full details on this practice are here. 

Take brief pauses throughout the day to remind yourself that it is the Solstice. You could perform a small ritual action. 

Muslims pause to pray five times a day at dawn, noon, mid-afternoon, sunset and evening, and Christian monks and nuns gather to pray the liturgy of the hours up to 7 times away including in the middle of the night. 

Dawn, noon, sunset, and the Solstice moment (in 2023 occurring on Thursday, the 21st, at 10:27 pm ET, time zone converter) are good spots in a day to make a pause for: meditation; walking outside for a few minutes or an hour; selecting your Solstice seed or contemplating it; saying a prayer; or reading or writing a poem.

Make this day the start of your celebration of the 12 days of Solstice. 

Why rush? Spread your Solstice practices out through the holiday season. When the Solstice falls on the 21st and you take it as the first day of Solsticetide, the 12th day is January 1. 

Eat something harvested on the Summer Solstice to remind you of the connection between the extremes of dark and light. 

A few years back I started harvesting and freezing strawberries on the Summer Solstice to eat on the Winter Solstice. You could do this with anything available at summer solstice. 

Enter Darkness. Invite Light.

Right before the Solstice moment we are at the height of the year’s darkness and invited to enter into its healing potential for release and renewal before starting the next solar year. But from the Solstice moment onward, the dark is reunited with the light and we begin our journey toward the height of light at Summer Solstice.

In the Overview booklet for Soul Path Sanctuary’s retreat-in-everyday life centered around the Winter Solstice, Descent and Return of the Light, I offer an image of what this reunion is like: 

In these moments, Dark and Light mix together. I imagine they rise and fall exuberantly like long separated lovers to conceive the next spiral of the world’s becoming. Dark and Light each need moments of their own fullness, but then their reunion on the Solstice creates that generative energy that the Italian poet Dante named so beautifully as the “love that moves the sun and other stars.”  

The Dark does not actually birth the Light. The Dark and the Light – after times of separation –  come together to conceive and birth Love. They begin a partnership of nurturance to bestow on Love their own best qualities that might be named as: intimacy, mystery, surrender, passion, growth, and joy. The inheritance of Love is both Dark and Light.

To encourage this birth of Love, you might spend some time with both Dark and Light. Before the Solstice moment, sit in the dark. When the Solstice moment comes, light lots of candles or even a big bonfire. You might imagine your leaping flame or dancing sparks play a part in moving us toward loving balance of the Whole. 

Lean into Your Lament

Despite the season, you heart may be heavy with personal sorrow or collective horror. Pushing it away could just cause it to fester. Instead, you might join with the long tradition of those who lament. In 23rd century BCE Mesopotamia, Enheduanna— a princess, priestess, and first named poet in history—wrote a searing lament to the Spirit of War. You might let her inspire you to include lament as a part of your Winter Solstice honoring. I offer a prompt to you for such a practice.


You are invited to join us for the second half of Descent and Return of the Light where we encounter the potential of our Solstice Seeds, tend the returning light, and find support for spiritual and soul-focused practice as we start a new year. Details and registration are here.  

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