Winter Solstice – Ways to Celebrate

Winter Solstice – ways to celebrate the season

Winter solstice, (also known as Midwinter) is just around the corner, and this year it helpfully falls on a Friday – Friday June 21 at 8:50am, to be exact. This makes it perfect for a ‘start-of-the-weekend’ celebration! Technically speaking, winter solstice doesn’t actually mark the middle-of-winter (which in New Zealand would be half way through July). Rather, it marks the period when we experience the longest night (hours of darkness) and the shortest day (hours of light).

Around the world, winter solstice is celebrated in a variety of different ways. Our ‘neighbours’ in the Antarctic who ‘winter-over’ celebrate with an official Antarctic holiday, and special meals to go with it. The ingredients for these often multi-course festivities will have been delivered months in advance, when shipments to the ice were regular. Australia celebrates with festivals including lights, winter feasts, and even the odd ‘nude solstice swim!’ Here in New Zealand, our very own Stonehenge Aotearoa celebrates winter solstice with a sun-setting viewing and a tour of the night sky.

Carve out your own celebrations

With such an auspicious occasion looming, why not take some time out to create your own winter solstice celebration – one you can turn into a fun tradition. It can be as sophisticated or homely as you like, and include friends, family, neighbours – or even the whole street! Here are some ideas to get you started:

Decorate a tree or shrub in your front yard with festive lights, drape the mail box with tinsel, and hang a string of colourful lanterns along the front of the deck.

Tip: flick the young ones in your life these easie peasie lantern making instructions, coloured paper, and some battery operated tea-light ‘candles,’ and ask them to supply the goods.

Organise a pot luck dinner for friends or family. Send out a recipe to each household attending and ask them to make the dish to bring along. Remember to include traditional festive treats such as herb stuffing, roast veges, plum pudding, and pavlova!

Host coffee and cake, supply each guest with paper and scissors, and ask them to create their own individual paper cut-out snowflake. If anyone needs instructions, keep your device handy and head to this great snowflake making site. Tape the snowflakes to your front window so they can be seen by passers-by.

Make a solstice wreath for your front door or to use as a table centre piece. Remember to use fragrant greenery, and natural decorations such a baby cones, dried citrus slices, and red berries. Christmas baubles and ribbon goes for next to nothing at op shops at this time of the year, so make the most of it!

Winter solstice is all about togetherness, and one of the nicest ways to achieve this is to gather around a fondue. Whether it’s a traditional savoury cheese fondue, or a dessert special, it will excite all those who love a bit of vintage fun. Use these no-fuss recipes made in bowls, or check out op shops for slow cookers to help make it happen. You may even have a wedding-gift fondue set in the depths of your garage!

Feeling flush? Instead of waiting until Christmas to gift to family, book a table at an affordable eatery, and celebrate in solstice style. Snap some pics, and at Christmas time, tape them to greeting cards and send them out with your Christmas wishes to remind everyone of the fun time had on your midwinter shout.

Host a cosy at-home gathering for friends. Hire a Christmas movie, mull some wine, and team it with roasted nuts, crackers and cheese, and tumblers of spiced poached fruit for a festive get-together.

Whether it’s big or small, a winter solstice celebration is too good to miss. This year, be sure to make it happen!

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