We take a look at some of the traditions and rituals from around the world that welcome in the winter solstice, taking place on December 21st!
1 St. Lucia’s Day
Celebrated in the Scandinavian nations, this festival of lights honours the eponymous saint as well as paying tribute to early Norse solstice traditions. Fires are lit in the belief that they’ll ward off spirits during the longest night, and girls dress up in white gowns and wear candle wreaths on their heads to honour St. Lucia.
2 Dong Zhi
Dong Zhi, translating to “the arrival of winter”, is a Chinese festival celebrated between the 21st and 23rd of December. It aims to get the family together, and is thought to have started as a signal to the end of harvest, with everyone gathering to share the fruits of their labour. Foods such as tang yuan rice balls are eaten to mark the occasion.
Soyal is the winter solstice ceremony for the Hopi Native American tribe, and celebrated on the 21st of December. The day marks the beginning of another cycle of the Wheel of the Year and is also a time for purification for the life in the coming year. Prayer sticks are made prior to the celebration to bless the community and sacred underground ritual chambers are opened.
This ancient Roman festival was celebrated in honour of the deity Saturn, and took place from 17th of December through to the 23rd of the month. An extravagant public banquet was held followed by gift giving and partying.
5 Stonehenge Winter Solstice
Every year, hundreds of worhshippers make the annual pilgramge to Stonehenge early in the morning to watch the sun rise above the stone formation. This year, the sun is expected to rise at 8.04am so make sure you get there early! All manner of spiritual followings come together to sing, dance and enjoy the sun rise on the shortest day of the year.