The Winter Solstice takes place every year on December 21st and marks the first day of winter. In the northern hemisphere, the date also marks the 24-hour period with the fewest daylight hours, this is why it is known as the shortest day of the year or the longest night of the year. It is often thought of as the end of the sun’s cycle and the return or rebirth of light. The interesting part is that the solstice is celebrated at the exact moment worldwide–but is converted to local time. This year, the Winter Solstice will take place in Halifax at 11:47 pm – let’s celebrate!

How to Celebrate the Winter Solstice

Attend an event – There are several local celebrations taking place in HRM. Join Celebrate Winter at Canadian Museum of Immigration at Pier 21, Winter Solstice Celebration at the J. D. Shatford Memorial Public Library, or the Winter Solstice at the Farm for camaraderie and fun.

Observe the Yule holiday and take part in its traditions –  Yule is an ancient holiday that celebrates the sun, rebirth and renewal.  Many of the Yule traditions and practices are similar to our Christmas festivities. We decorate our homes with evergreen plants, we light candles and fires, feast, dance, and give gifts. Whatever your religious background, Winter Solstice offers a perfect opportunity to show gratitude for Nature’s cycles. Why not sit down and educate your family on the traditions of this ancient holiday and observe its similarities to Christmas? Perhaps, you can discover a few new practices to integrate in your own family traditions.

Take your family for a solstice walk and watch the sunset– Nothing presses the reset button faster or brings a person more energy than an invigorating walk on a crisp winter’s day. Just the thought brings visions of knitted mittens, warm boots and rosy cheeks. What better way to both say goodbye to the end of the sun’s yearly cycle and hello to a brand new beginning and the return of light, than a walk through mother nature. If walking aimlessly isn’t your thing, set your family on a mission to find the perfect Yule log to burn for the evening’s bon fire.

Winter Solstice

Have a bonfire When you have found the perfect Yule log, which is often decorated with evergreen bows and candles ahead of time, it is tradition to burn the log on the evening of the solstice. The smoke acts as purification and the fire is a representation of the rebirth of light. Why not take this further by planning an evening outside bundled up telling stories by the fire? Besides, who says you can’t have s’mores in the winter?!

Play outside in the dark-  If we were lucky enough to be celebrating a white Christmas in this part of the world this year, I would encourage you to get outside, build a a snowman, have a family friendly snowball fight and make some Christmas angels. Alas, this will not be possible this year. However, that doesn’t need to stop us from having outdoor fun! Why not go skating at the Emera Oval (be sure to check to make sure it is open), play backyard track down, or even organize a scavenger hunt with flashlights?

Have a dance party- Grab your glow sticks, your dancing shoes and your families favourite music, because you’re about to throw the ultimate winter dance party.

Prepare a feast– Have your children help you, and enjoy the process of the preparing a meal to share with family and friends. Cook your family favourites or research Yule specific recipe and try something new. Be sure to include plum pudding, mulled apple cider, or a chocolate Yule log!

Give Thanks – Whether you intend to celebrate the Winter Solstice out loud, or  simply stay cozy at home, this is a great opportunity to pause the hustle-and-bustle of the season, to give thanks for your many blessings, and to set intentions for a new year ahead.

Happy Winter Solstice!

If your family has a unique way of celebrating the Winter Solstice, we would love to hear about it. Email us at