Celebrate the winter solstice with these creative nature crafts, supporting wildlife in winter, warming food recipes, and experiences.
When the last leaves fall into the dark of early December, we all feel it. The skies are cold, no matter if they’re grey or blue. Blasting wind batters our faces, but most of all, we lose the light. Dark days crowd in, the commute feels longer, and by the time we finish work or the daily chores, it can be pitch black outside. It can be grim, even if Christmas is around the corner.
The winter solstice is a day that marks a change in the season, and although it’s the official first day of winter, it also represents the point at which our days begin to get lighter.
This collection of ideas includes ways to celebrate this promise of light and the slow and steady journey to spring. They include nature crafts, holiday ideas, and things to bring Hygge into our lives. That Scandinavian concept of a cozy winter surrounded by warmth, light, food, and comfort.
What is the Winter Solstice
We mark the winter solstice on our calendars for a reason. It’s an astrological wonder of nature that affects us all and brings us the joy of the seasons. The way it works is that our planet sits on a twenty-three-degree angle on its orbit. Imagine the angle that a globe sits on its stand. It means that in June, the north pole points towards the sun, and we bask in warmth in the northern hemisphere. Now in late December, it’s the opposite. People in Australia are in the middle of summer, and we in the north have darker days.
We’ll have seven hours of daylight today on the Isle of Man, and it will barely crest the hill to the south of my allotment garden. Further north in parts of Scandinavia, Russia, Canada, and Alaska, the sun never makes an appearance. The winter solstice is our longest night of the year. The bright side of that is from today our days will begin to get lighter. By a cock’s crow every day is the saying.
Creative Ways to Celebrate the Winter Solstice
I’d say that’s a reason to celebrate and something that can brighten your mood if you suffer from SAD. That’s why I’m sharing ideas for ways to creatively celebrate the winter solstice. Things that you can make on your own or with little ones. Delicious recipes that make you feel warm and content and exciting activities that can bring us closer to nature and human history.
Nature Crafts for the Winter Solstice
- Ice Suncatchers
- Clever and beautiful holiday centerpiece made with a colander
- Frozen Garden Candles
- Make a foraged greenery wreath
- Create Simple Twig Stars
- Decorate an outdoor Christmas tree for the birds
- Make homemade Bird Fat-Balls
- Many animals don’t hibernate for the winter. Put nuts out for squirrels and birds, and table scraps including cheese, meat, potatoes and vegetables for foxes. More info from the RSPCA.
- If you have a pond or water dish in your garden, remember to break the ice. That way animals can get a drink.
- Some wildlife will take shelter in your porches, barns, and outbuildings. Be kind and allow them to stay if they’re not harmful. Opossums don’t carry rabies and are very gentle. They also keep your land free of ticks (and lime disease). Deer and elk may shelter in your fields, and squirrels, owls, and bats might tuck themselves away in the eaves. All are beautiful creatures that deserve sympathy and kindness. Especially in the harshness of winter.
Food Recipes for the Winter Solstice
- Scandinavian Christmas Cookies
- Yule Log Christmas Cake
- Winter Solstice Soup
- Acorn Flour Cake
- Pine Needle Shortbread Cookies
- Jamie Oliver’s Mulled Wine recipe
Things to do on the Winter Solstice
- Go on a winter scavenger hunt. The Woodland Trust has a great activity sheet for children but adults can go on their own. Find beautiful pine cones, stones, leaves, and natural treasures. Collect them for a photo or to use in making winter crafts.
- Have a bonfire party for friends and family or just for yourself. A symbol of light in the darkness and a great opportunity to roast some marshmallows, sing carols, and pass around warm mugs of mulled wine.
- Crack out the seed catalogs, make yourself a warm brew, and plan your spring garden
- In Britain, learn more about our ancient ancestors and the theories on why they marked the winter solstice with some of their tombs and monuments. You can even visit Stonehenge on sunset on the winter solstice, or other ancient sites, including these on the Isle of Man.
- The winter solstice is an important day for many world religions. They include Yaldā in Iran, Sanghamitta Day in Theravada Buddhism, and Yule in Neopaganism. It’s both fascinating and respectful to understand how others live and celebrate around the world.