Winter Solstice Family Traditions

How many lessons of faith and beauty we should lose, if there were no winter in our year!’ Thomas Wentworth Higginson

We love the winter (despite preferring to be warm) and I'm writing this on the winter solstice here in the Northern Hemisphere - when the sun travels its shortest path through the sky due to the earth being at maximum tilt, giving us the longest night and shortest day of the year. From today the days gradually lengthen - and we celebrate the coming of the light and the sun's rebirth.

If you don’t already celebrate the solstice with your own children, we urge you to embrace this annual fest of winter delight - it’s free, it’s ancient, it’s a great warm hug of positivity (and who doesn’t need that right now?).

Here are a few simple ideas that might inspire new traditions in your home:

  • Spend the evening together by candlelight - unplug the devices, play games, listen to (or even sing) some songs, chat - have a bath. Candlelight makes every moment more special, and it’s great way to take note of the darkness.
  • Make lanterns and go on a night walk. This doesn’t have to be late thanks to a super-early sunset, so even younger children can join in the excitement. Pop a tea light in a mason-jar and suspend by string - or try a more ambitious design - either way even a short walk will be a thrill.
  • Decorate a favourite living tree outdoors with bird food ornaments - peanut butter on fir cones, fat/seed baubles, dried fruit and popcorn garlands. A feast for the birds and animals who share the darkness and light of winter.
  • Talk with your children about their hopes and aspirations for the coming year - plan some projects together and set some intentions. A little like resolutions but with an emphasis on the things that would bring light into your life.

However you spend the solstice, take a moment to recognise the significance of the shortest day in our calendar - the light is coming…