As we head toward the end of the year, we wanted to share some ways to celebrate winter solstice, also called Yule, so you can enter the new season with a sense of peace and goodwill. Read on to learn about what winter solstice is, when it starts, and how you can make the most of the winter solstice.

What is winter solstice?

Winter solstice and summer solstice are, respectively, according to Britannica, “the two moments during the year when the path of the Sun in the sky is farthest south in the Northern Hemisphere (December 21 or 22) and farthest north in the Southern Hemisphere (June 20 or 21).” It’s a changing of the seasons that for many has taken on a powerful significance in terms of embracing change and honoring the transition. The winter solstice is also the shortest day of the year, meaning the one with the least sunlight. It marks the date when the days start to get longer again, until the summer solstice, which is the longest day of the year.

When is the winter solstice?

In 2021, the winter solstice will occur on Tuesday, December 21. According to Space.com, on that date, “at 10:19 pm, Earth’s axis will be titled in such a way that the North Pole of Earth faces the furthest away from the sun it will reach.”

What is the winter solstice great conjunction?

About every 20 years, Saturn and Jupiter appear close to each other from the human eye’s perspective on Earth. Space.com explained that in 2020, the two planets were separated by “6 arc minutes,” which is “equal to 0.1 degrees or about one-fifth the apparent width of the moon.” This visual phenomenon was a rarity when it comes to planetary movement.

What are common winter solstice traditions?

Many people choose to celebrate winter solstice, either as an alternative to religious holidays or in addition to them. According to the BBC, the winter solstice is a traditional Pagan ritual and “one of the oldest winter celebrations in the world.” It’s often seen as a time to focus on rest and renewal, essentially a way to reset your mind and state your intentions for the season ahead.

Some common winter solstice traditions include using it as a time for reflection to set intentions for the new year. Intentions are different than resolutions because with resolutions, you’re stating that you have a specific goal or plan, whereas intentions are more open-ended. Intentions are more about the journey than the destination, along with figuring out what you want from your inner and outer self. If you’re want to do some quality exploring of your own psyche and assess how the past year has treated you and what you’re looking for from the next one, setting intentions can help guide you.

You may want to try using tarot cards to help guide you as you forge a new path with the approach of a new season. Another option is a singing bowl or sound bowl used for sound therapy. The idea is that the sound produced by vibration from these bowls can foster relaxation as well as meditation.

If you’ve been wanting to get your chakras in alignment, this is a wonderful time for self-reflection and to take a step back, especially if the impending holidays feel too chaotic. Prioritizing self-care and focusing on how you can be your best self is a way of marking both a transition on the calendar and within yourself.

For those looking to cleanse your space as a way to purify your surroundings, you might use smudge sticks to bring peace to your surroundings and your mind. Whether this is a regular ritual practice for you or something you’re trying for the first time, you can put forth into the universe your desire to claim a calm and healing home.

How do people celebrate winter solstice?

There are many ways to celebrate winter solstice and welcome the new season. Some people host winter solstice dinner parties, with menus themed around seasonal foods. There are various roundups of winter solstice recipes that can offer you warm, hearty and delicious dishes to make to welcome the new season.

Incense is often lit on winter solstice in order to bring about cleansing and protection. Sometimes this is tied to Yule celebrations, but it doesn’t have to be.

You may want to mark this transitional time, if you’re 21 or over, by playing bartender at home and concocting a winter solstice cocktail to help keep you warm. You can use the solstice as an opportunity to try a new type of beverage you’ve never had before.

If you’re an introverted type who likes to cozy up under a warm blanket, you could pick up a seasonal-themed book like the novel Winter Solstice by bestselling author Erin Hilderbrand.

How to throw a winter solstice party

If you want to throw a winter solstice party, think comfort food and coziness. Especially if you live in a colder climate, it’s a wonderful opportunity to entertain and gather with your friends and family as you prepare for a chillier season where you may be more prone to staying home. If you’re the type who tends to hibernate during winter and be more domestic, a winter solstice party is a wonderful way to reconnect with your loved ones.

Cook up some hearty foods, serve warm drinks like cider, lay out blankets, light a fire and light some candles to ward off the darkness. You have plenty of leeway in terms of how you decorate and host a party like this. Whether the holiday has a spiritual element for you or is purely secular, you can make this type of celebration what you want it to be. Lighting incense can help set the mood and offer your guests a peaceful experience.

Whatever way you celebrate, we wish you a festive and relaxing winter solstice and a year of success and happiness ahead. There are no hard and fast rules about what you can or can’t do to honor this seasonal shift. You can make it a more personal, intimate time, or one where you’re more social and surrounded by friends.