Winter Solstice

Winter Solstice

Winter solstice, the shortest day of the year, is the perfect time to reflect on the past year and release the things that no longer serve you. These rituals will help you move into the new year with positive energy.


Winter solstice, also known as midwinter, Yule, or the longest night, occurs on December 20, 21, 22, or 23. The word “solstice” comes from a Latin word meaning “sun stands still.” The winter solstice itself is actually just a brief moment in time. It occurs at the moment the North Pole is farthest from the sun, at a 23.5 degree tilt of the axis of Earth. At this time, the Tropic of Capricorn receives the sun’s full attention. 


The solstice happens at the same exact moment in time for the entire planet. In the northern hemisphere, it marks the longest night and shortest day of the year. This will impact different parts of the world in various ways. Barrow, Alaska will see no sunrise at all. Cities like New York will experience only about nine hours of sunlight, while in Helsinki, Finland they will have around five hours. Any location that is to the north of the Earth’s equator will experience less than twelve hours of daylight. The good news is that after the winter solstice, the daylight hours begin to lengthen. While most calendars refer to this day as the first day of winter, many meteorologists consider December 1 the first day of winter. 


With the science out of the way, we can shift focus to how the winter solstice is celebrated around the world. Yule dates back to a Scandinavian celebration and tribute to the Norse god, Thor, in which fires were lit to symbolically represent the heat and light of the returning sun. This is currently celebrated in some forms of modern Paganism and we can see nods to these traditions in things like Yule logs and Yule singing. 

In Northern Arizona, the Hopi Indians celebrate Soyal, which includes rituals of purification and dancing, and welcoming the kochinas, which are protective mountain spirits. The Dhongzi festival occurs in China and east Asia, to celebrate not only the longer daylight hours, but the influx of positive energy as well. Its origins are traceable to the philosophy of yin and yang, welcoming balance and harmony. 

One of the most spectacular places to experience the winter solstice is at Stonehenge in the UK. When the solstice occurs, you can experience the light of the sun’s rays peeking through the stones which are in perfect alignment with the sun. It is believed that the ancient civilizations that built Stonehenge probably did so with the winter solstice specifically in mind. 


The yearly cycle of the sun and moon (solstices and equinoxes) offer us time to become more aware of our own energy and the way we navigate it, which is a routine that you as a military spouse can participate in regardless of the personal season you’re in. The winter solstice invites us to go within and explore ourselves, reflect, and take inventory. It is a perfect time for planning and deciding what you are ready to release, energetically, and what seeds of intention you will want to plant for your future. Releasing energy that no longer serves you starts very basically with the intention to do so. What can you “release”? You can release old patterns and behaviors that do not support the version of yourself that you envision being. You can release attachments to situations or relationships that do not bring positivity into your life. You can release anything that does not invite harmony into your existence. It is a good idea to write it down because you can come back to it at a later time and reflect on your personal growth. You may choose to release the thoughts in a meditation. If you want to pair intention with action, you can light a cozy fire, grab some hot cocoa, and toss those writings of release into the fire (good riddance!). Take the time to celebrate the release. Gift yourself quiet moments and inward reflection. It makes room for you to welcome in the positive energy that will follow. Energetically, it is all downhill from here.

winter solstice.png



Maralis Self, a seasoned Army spouse, is an energy worker, passionate about holistic mind, body, and spirit care. She utilizes her training as a Reiki master, yoga teacher and mindfulness mentor to teach others how manage their energy and feel more empowered. She works with clients individually and leads workshops and retreats. She enjoys interacting with her military spouse community in the group Empowered Energy-Milspouse Edition and on her social media channels.


Facebook | Instagram | Facebook Group