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.