Celebrate the Winter Solstice with your children by performing this simple Yule Ritual with your whole Family.
• A large central candle
• Smaller votive candles – 1 for each person participating in the ritual
1. Gather in a central space in your home.
This should be a place where you can safely light your candles–around your family alter is ideal (if you have one), or at your dining table.
Light the larger, central candle.
Begin by talking about why the Winter Solstice is meaningful.
All through summer & fall the days have been growing shorter & shorter. (I like to talk to my kids about this in a context that they can relate to: Remember in the summer when the sun was still shining at bed time? Now it gets dark so early, it’s dark outside before dinner!)
Every day has grown shorter & the sun is up less & less. Today is the shortest day of the year. We’ve gone as far toward the darkness as we can possibly go. This is the longest night of the year. In some places (like the north pole!) it is dark almost the entire day.
2. Go through the house together & turn off every light.
Tell the children we’re going to pretend the darkness inside the house, is just like the darkness outside. Leave this one center candle burning & go through the house together and turn out all the lights.
*You may want to carry a flashlight with you to return safely to your gathering place.
3. Gather again around the candle you left burning.
Remind everyone, for half the year, day by day, the Earth has slowly grown darker and night by night, the darkness has grown longer.
Blow out the last remaining candle.
*Make sure you know where the matches/lighter are so you can easily reach them in the dark. Keep small children very close, or on your lap, so they don’t get scared when the house gets completely dark.
4. Pause for a moment to reflect on the stillness of the dark.
Before you relight your candle, pause for a moment & absorb the quiet & the stillness. Sit for a moment & feel the darkness, its powerful simplicity.
Tell kids how, at first, the darkness might seem scary, because we’re not used to it. But darkness is important.
We were all born in the dark & lived in the dark inside our mother’s belly. We grew in the dark until we were ready to be born. Just like the Earth–things are growing deep inside the Earth right now, preparing to be born.
And we need the dark to sleep & to dream. It’s in the dark that we dream up new dreams for the year to come.
4. Re-light your central candle.
Before you light your central candle remind everyone: even though everything seems so dark, it was never totally complete. There was always a spark waiting to return.
Light your match & relight the central candle.
Explain that on Yule, we celebrate this spark. And the return of the sun.
And now that the sun has returned it will continue to grow & grow, and get bigger & bigger. The light is coming back now & one day soon we’ll celebrate spring.
5. Each person take turns lighting their smaller candle.
Tell everyone right now the light is only a tiny spark, so we have to help it grow by lighting candles & twinkling lights.
Light your individual candle from the central candle & say, “the Wheel is turning & the light is returning.”
Continue in a circle, each person lighting their candle by the central flame. When everyone has had their turn, bask in the glow of the candle light.
*Adults, help smaller children light their candles.
6. Send the children to turn on all the lights.
Send the kids on a mission through the house turning on all the lights. Turn on every light to drive away all the darkness and shadows.
When everyone is back at the table explain that winter is the time of darkness & that can be scary.
Just like the Earth, we all have moments when things seem dark & it feels scary. But the Earth teaches us, no matter how dark it gets, there’s always a spark of light. The light will always return. A new day will always begin.
6. Everyone make a wish for the new year
Remind everyone that in the darkness, new dreams are born. Go around the table & each person say what they wish for the new year. What do they wish for themselves & what do they wish for the family/their community?
7. Blow out the candles.
After everyone has said their wish for the new year, blow out the candles.
One of the adults goes first, say: May the light of the Yule candles burn in our hearts all throughout the coming year. Blessing of the Season on you all.
As each person extinguishes their candle, say: Blessings of the season on you all.