Four simple rituals, including one for the winter solstice, that will bring you back to yourself
Winter is traditionally a reflective, inward time of year when we hunker down at home hygge-style. But it’s also a season when we find ourselves rushing around between festive shopping and holiday parties. We’ve developed these simple, gentle rituals to help you balance both parts of those crazy winter weeks. You might think you don’t have time to practice a ritual but give one a go – we believe taking time out for yourself makes your life feel spacious and calm, and that will help you feel like you have more time, not less.
Winter solstice (December 21st)
It’s the night of the longest darkness, but also traditionally a celebration of the light that is returning to us from this point in the year. In different cultures that might mean lighting a yule log or a menorah. For our winter solstice ritual you will need one big pillar candle, matches, and as many small candles (or tea lights) as there are people sharing your ritual. We recommend you keep this ritual fairly small and intimate, so just invite a few close friends, or do this by yourself.
- Place the pillar candle in the centre of your altar or table. This is your sun candle, which represents the return of the light. Make sure the room is dark, and light only the pillar candle.
- Either with your friends, or to yourself, thank the deep darkness of winter for its restoration.
- Take each tea light in turn and light it from the sun candle. Place the lit tea lights around the pillar candle in a circle.
- When all the candles are lit, sit and contemplate what the return of the light means to you.
Full moon ritual (December 22nd)
It’s said that a full moon brings high energy – lots of people find they can’t sleep under a full moon, hospital admissions go up, and more babies are born. There are lots of rituals around the full moon, from crystal cleansing to bringing to fruition the intentions that you set at the new moon. This is the simplest moon ritual we know, and one you can do anywhere. When the moon is full, get yourself outside and bathe in the moonlight for a few minutes. Yep, just like sunbathing but at night (in the cold!) – keep your clothes on though, this isn’t about getting hypothermia.
Don’t have your phone with you, or try to photograph the moment, just be where you are, and appreciate the stillness. Moon bathing is said to be cooling and calming to the nervous system.
New Year’s Eve
This is the party ritual, and we find even the most sceptical friends will get on board with a ritual that involves champagne! You will need champagne, glasses, matches and a packet of cigarette papers. This ritual is practised in the last few seconds of the old year, as the countdown to midnight begins.
- Pour everyone a glass of champagne.
- Have each person write down their wish for the coming year on the cigarette paper.
- Take a match and light the papers, holding them above a glass of champagne so that the ashes fall in the drink.
- Everyone then drinks their champagne (and their wish), as the new year begins.
This has been the most popular ritual from our new book, Rituals for Every Day – we keep being sent gorgeous pictures from readers who’ve chosen to start their day this way, and felt the benefit. It’s a great one for dark winter mornings, before the sun has risen.
Instead of switching on electric lights, or grabbing your phone first thing, spend the first twenty minutes of your day in the warm glow of candlelight, and feel how the gentle light allows you to transition slowly into your day. We so often race from moment to moment, forgetting that transitions also deserve our attention and respect. Taking time to honour this space between waking and the ever-present to-do list will set the tone for how you tackle the day ahead. Seems almost too simple to be effective, but try it and see for yourself.
Extracted from Rituals for Every Day by Nadia Narain and Katia Narain Phillips (Hutchinson, hardback, £14.99)