Celebrate the Winter Solstice with your children by performing this simple Yule Ritual with your whole Family.
If you’re able, I encourage you to take a family walk before your ritual. Collect ‘Signs of Winter’–any branches, berries, pinecones, etc. that catch your eye. Use these as the centerpiece, and place your candles around them for your ritual.
• 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 altar 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, and 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 all 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.
TIP: Carry a flashlight with you to return safely to your gathering place.
3. Gather back around your candles.
Remind everyone: For half the year, day by day, the Earth has slowly grown darker & the nights longer. Now, on the Winter Solstice we’re in almost total darkness.
Blow out the last remaining candle.
TIP: Make sure you know where the match/lighter is so you can easily reach them in the dark. Keep small kids on your lap so they don’t get scared when it 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.
Talk about how, at first, the darkness is scary, because we’re not used to it. But darkness is important. We’re all born in the dark, in our mama’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.
We need the dark to sleep & to dream. It’s in the dark that we dream up all the 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. Relight the central candle. Explain on Yule, we’re celebrating this spark.
And, the return of the sun! 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 & then summer.
5. Light smaller candles & make a wish for the New Year.
Tell everyone right now the light is only a tiny spark–the light of the Sun & the light inside us–so we have to help it grow by lighting candles & twinkling lights.
Explain: Winter is the time of darkness & that can be scary. And 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.
Remind everyone that in the darkness, new dreams are born.
Go around the table & take turns lighting your candle from the central candle. As you do, have each person say what they wish for themselves in the new year. What do they wish for their family/community?
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.
7. 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.
Free Winter Solstice Download
This was great. I loved how the kids were so into it — then as the lights went out it became a bit scary but we were all together and talked about why the dark is necessary and special. One little piece of advice is that there is a bit you’re supposed to say in the dark and so it’s worth noting that you won’t have light to read by.
Oh my god I love this.
I love this! I’m going to try it.
I did this with my children this year. My son loved it. I intend to make it an annual ritual. Thank you.
This is awesome, Carrie! I love to hear this!!
Thank you so much for sharing your solstice ritual. It is just lovely, You’ve inspired me and helped me to share my beliefs with my nieces……💕
You’re so welcome Gahlia. I am so glad you found this ritual useful. It warms my heart that you’re sharing your beliefs with your nieces! Happy New Year!!
Oh my. Can I just tell you that this is the sweetest family solstice ritual that I’ve ever heard of. We have celebrate as a community with the advent spiral, but are now far away from our Waldorf community (out in rural France) and I’ve been looking for a way to transform our spiral into a smaller family version and THIS IS IT! Spiraling in and out of the darkness in our own home using the lights and the candles.thank you so much!
Nicolette, thank you so much for this feedback. I am so glad this ritual was useful & meaningful to you! Happy New Year. xo
Thanks for the ideas for planning my solstice ritual this year
You are so welcome, Jessie!!
I love this ritual so much and I’m going to use it with my family this year! I would like to just make one suggestion. Unless a child has already expressed being scared of the dark or wintertime, I think it’s best not to plant that seed in their minds. Allow children to interpret the dark and winter how they like. My children are not afraid of the dark and so I will be taking that part of the ritual out because I don’t want to plant a seed that the dark is something to fear. I do love the part about addressing that dark is necessary. I’ve worked with kids for a number of years and I have 2 littles of my own and I just thought if I was feeling this, it might be important to let you know. Thanks again so much for this ritual! Happy holidays!
Hi Sarah, Thank you so much for this note. I really appreciate your feedback. I think this is a very important & meaningful suggestion. I will revisit this when it is Winter Solstice season & again, and change any mentions of fear of the dark. Your point is a very good one. Thank you so much for reading & for taking the time to respond. Wishing you all the best, erin xo
This is beautiful. I am going to do this virtually with my daughter and her family. Thank you!
Beth ♥ I am so sorry I’m only just now seeing this sweet message. (Damn spam makes it hard to find the treasures like yours!!) I am so curious if you were able to do this ritual virtually with your family? I’d love to hear your experience. I’m sending you so much love. All the best, erin xo