Winter Solstice: The Festival of Rebirth
Articles Inspirational articles from Hay House authors
Winter Solstice: The Festival of RebirthGlennie Kindred shares a celebratory ceremony you can perform this Winter Solstice
This is Midwinter, the shortest day and longest night of the year. The restraints of Winter have brought us rest and given us time for reflection and the incubation of ideas and dreams. Here in the stillness of the Solstice we pause and become aware of our visions and the seeds of our future growth waiting for birth.
At the Winter Solstice the darkness reaches its height and the waning cycle of the Sun stops. From now on the days will begin to lengthen and warmth and outer growth will return to us and to the Earth.
Here we celebrate the return of the Sun, give birth to our visions and name our dreams, our ‘Solstice Resolutions’ or ‘Solstice Aspirations’, which will grow with the increasing light. The way is now open for the rebirth of our active selves.
But this is also a dual celebration and we pause a moment to look back on our journey since the Summer Solstice, acknowledging what we have completed and the insights and understanding we have gained from inner reflection.
The Winter Solstice is an opportunity to come out of hibernation, to be loving and generous, to reconnect and celebrate friendships, family and the warmth of community.
Winter Solstice Celebration
• Dress up warmly and get up before dawn to gather with friends and watch the Sun come up over the horizon. Celebrate the rebirth of the Sun and the return of the light. Celebrate the journey you have made inside yourself and the dreams you have been incubating.
• Stay together throughout the day, inviting more friends and family to gather at noon and celebrate the day and evening together as a community. Book a hall so that all may come and join in.
• Gather evergreens, enjoying the contact with Nature and respecting the plants and trees as you cut them. Arrange all the greenery in buckets of damp soil and vases of Water, respecting the living energy of the plants. Display them in corners of the room and on the tables, with beautiful cloths and nightlights in holders around them.
• Light the room with candle lanterns and sidelights to create a special atmosphere of gentle light.
• Invite everyone to bring special food and drink to share and to bring a present for the ‘present share’. Each present must be labelled and correspond to each child, teenager or adult that comes. Place these in baskets labelled ‘Child’, ‘Teenager’ and ‘Adult’. At an appropriate moment during the celebration, the baskets can be brought into the centre and each person can choose their Solstice gift.
• Bring drums, percussion and instruments, as well as rugs and cushions to make a cosy area for the children to play and sleep in.
• Invite everyone to dress as the Spirit of Midwinter. This may include costumes, masks, headdresses and painted faces. It facilitates imaginative creativity and brings a special sparkle to the event.
• The Winter Solstice is traditionally a time to entertain each other, so invite everyone to bring music, songs, plays, poems and stories to share.
‘We are the rising Sun.
We are the change.
We are the ones we are waiting for and We are dawning.’
Winter Solstice Ceremony
• Gather everyone into a circle with a chant, holding hands and circling round together, building up a connection to each other and the Solstice. Sing the chant for at least 10 minutes. This gives everyone the chance to really get to know it, to make up harmonies and play with it. After a while it slips into a mesmerizing phase, takes on a life of its own and really builds up energy. Encourage everyone to join in, from the youngest to the oldest, so that all feel included in their community.
• At the centre of the circle place a special blessed candle in a large bowl of sand, with a basket of small candles next to it. Light the central candle with a simple invocation, dedicating it to world peace or global harmony.
• Open the circle by beginning with a grounding exercise, helping everyone to let go of their busy lives and their worries, letting everything drop down into the Earth where it will be cleansed and renewed. Acknowledge each element in turn with music, sound, dance, song or words. This can be done by the whole group or by individuals. It may be decided on beforehand or it may unfold in the moment as an act of creative group spontaneity.
• Turn off all the lights and meditate together on the stillness of the single living flame of the candle at the centre of the circle. Hum and let out gentle sounds together to facilitate a mesmerizing trance- like atmosphere.
• Each person goes to the centre of the circle and names what they wish to bring to their lives, to the Earth or the world in the new year. As they do this, they take a candle from the small basket, light it from the central candle and place it in the large bowl of sand. Gradually, as each person lights their candle with pledges of hope for positive change, the room is filled with light.
• Pass around a warm spicy fruit cup and let each person offer a blessing and a toast to the New Year. Echo each toast by calling it out together so all can hear it and all can send it out into the world. Drink from the cup and pass it on to the next person. Encourage the children to join in and add an element of fun and daring! Make sure there is someone to refill the cup when necessary.
• Close the circle by acknowledging each element in the same way as when you opened the circle, reversing the order if this makes sense to you. Drum and dance together in celebration of each other, your community and the rebirth of the Sun.
• Have a great Solstice feast together and entertain each other with music, plays, stories and songs.