“You’ll find wisdom in your winter, and once it’s over, it’s your responsibility to pass it on. And in return, it’s our responsibility to listen to those who have wintered before us. It’s an exchange of gifts in which nobody loses out. 

Katherine May, Wintering

On the Winter Solstice, the sun appears to pause for three days in her Southward trajectory and then begins to move North. The word solstice is derived from Latin for sun (sol) stop (sisto). The significance of the Solstice has been acknowledged by our ancestors since time immemorial. In China, the Winter Solstice is exemplified in the Yin and Yang philosophy. In Persian traditions, Pomegranates are set aside to savor. In Japan, people add citrus fruits to their hot baths. In Teotihuacan, an ancient Mayan ritual—the flying pole dance—is still performed. In Brú na Bóinne, Ireland, a passage tomb, built during the Stone Age, lights up with the sunrise only on these three days each year, and bonfires are set at sunset. We too can use ritual to press pause and reconnect with ourselves on this momentous occasion. Here are four rituals you can incorporate to “press pause” this Winter Solstice:

1) Add some citrus slices or citrus essential oil to a hot bath and take a candlelit soak.

2) Brew an herbal tea or hot cocoa/cacao to drink in ceremony. Sit outside or at a window, alternate inhaling the aroma, taking a sip, and saying, “we have turned the year” very slowly until it is finished. Then sit in meditation.

3) Invite friends to join at sunset for a bonfire or around the fireplace to discuss your hopes and intentions for the new year.

Bonus: Gift yourself a copy of the wonderful book (quoted above)—Wintering: The Power of Rest and Retreat in Difficult Times—by Katherine May. I read it last Winter and I am starting to reread it again now.