Celebrating the Winter Solstice

“At the midwinter solstice comes the shortest day.  This is the darkest time of year in the northern hemisphere.  We experience this in our lives as hardship – it’s cold and dark, we can feel alone and bereft.  At this time of outer darkness, we can feel challenged within ourselves to find light.” – From “Celebrating Irish Festivals:  Calendar of Seasonal Celebrations” by Ruth Marshall, Hawthorne Press

Many Waldorf resources actually do not mention celebrating the Solstice at all.  However, mention can be found in the book, “Celebrating Irish Festivals:  Calendar of Seasonal Celebrations” by Ruth Marshall as noted above.   This is tied to the Irish mounds of Newgrange, Knowth and Dowth.  Newgrange in particular is noted as being older than the Egyptian pyramids. The entrance of Newgrange is aligned with the position of the sunrise on the shortest day of the year, the Winter Solstice.  The interior carvings of the innermost chamber are illuminated by light on this very special day! 

This book suggests rising early to greet the dawn and to watch the sunrise together.  However, I know many families who celebrate either the Eve of the Solstice (as Heather over at Beauty That Moves details beautifully in this recent post. ) or the night of Solstice itself. Some families will have a party complete with yellow foods, live fun music and dancing!  I also know families who celebrate with tea outside.    I ran through the different Winter festivals, including a mention of Solstice in this  back post.

Some families will dip candles on this special day, or make lanterns or hold a big bonfire!  Sun catchers could be lovely as well if the temperatures are enough to freeze things in your area!  This could also be a wonderful day to hold a Winter/Advent Spiral, which I detail in several back posts.

This year, we plan to celebrate the shortest day of the year by being outside, and also by baking a beautiful yellow bread.  The book “The Sun Bread” by Kleven promises to be a favorite.  I also want to sing!  Jodie Mesler  has a new “Make Way For King Winter” songbook out with several songs that could be used for the Winter Solstice.   You can see  her website  for more details.  Jodie is a great encouragement for families looking to bring season music into their family life.   The other thing I would like to do is make some simple treats for the birds, and pomanders for inside our home (pomanders remind me of the book, “The Sun Egg” by Elsa Beskow!)

I would love to hear your wonderful plans.

Blessings and love,


8 thoughts on “Celebrating the Winter Solstice

  1. Lovely post. We love all of those books, too. There is another good one (as a read aloud for slightly older children) called The Return of the Light by Carolyn Edwards. We celebrate Solstice b attending a celebration a local national park. There is a long story to it (we have changed parks and in the interim years did family hikes). Regardless, being outside has been an anchor. (I have a post scheduled for Monday on my own blog.) I love Winter Solstice. There is something magical about it to me.

  2. Excellent post. We do beeswax candles and make a gingerbread house. This year we are reading The Winter Solstice by Ellen Jackson, The Shortest Day by Wendy Pfeiffer and Yule: A Celebration of Light and Warmth.

  3. We celebrate solstice on both the 21st and 22nd. With less than six hours of daylight right now, the return of the light receives a lot of celebration around here! First, we will go to a bonfire on the beach with chili served, which is hosted for our community by a retired couple. Such a treat! The next night, we host at our home, a birthday dinner for our dear friend who is a “grandma” to our daughter. She and her husband return home at this time of year from their annual fall trip away for several months. We miss them greatly every fall, and so it is a special treat to celebrate her birthday and all the light she brings into our lives, just as we turn the corner toward more light after solstice. This is also when we exchange presents with them, and so it is great fun for our daughter, and it really helps take the edge off of all the Christmas excitement, in a good way!

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