My family has celebrated the Winter solstice for years. Celebrating the natural cycles of the earth is important to us and to impart this on our children, we make sure to recognize and celebrate the changing of the seasons. Appreciating the light returning is a highlight of the end of the year for us.
In the days leading up to the solstice, I collect and take inventory of all of my candles. I deep clean the house to purify it.
On the morning of the solstice, I do my sun salutations and meditate. I smudge sage and burn incense for purification. On the solstice, we do not use any regular artificial light, except for fairy lights, so as the afternoon gets dark, I light candles around the house. These will be the only lights for the night.
The table is dressed in a white tablecloth and set with candles and pretty dishes. Our meal the last few years has been Beef Carbonnade. The meal is made of local and homegrown ingredients; the desserts, not as it's hard to find local chocolate in Wisconsin! This year we will have our home-brewed beer and hard apple cider ready (and regular cider for our girls).
After our meal, we open our gifts. We live a few hours from family, so celebrating on this night makes planning so much easier and more relaxed for us. For us, the solstice is about enjoying the quiet night by candlelight, and being glad that the days will grow longer once again.
Happily for us, friends of ours also celebrate the solstice and on the next night, we will join them and about 50 other people for local food, drinks, and laughter, in their 100+ year old home lit only by candles and fairy lights.
The internet is full of the history and cultural celebrations of the solstice. Find what appeals to you and works for your family, and let me know how you celebrated.