Winter Solstice or midwinter, is the "shortest day" and "longest night" of the year. In other words, the sun sets sooner than any other day of the year. This day is observed by many different cultures and traditions as a joyous holiday. It is celebrated in the norther hemisphere in December, while the souther hemisphere will celebrate in June. This year, the northern hemisphere will celebrate on December 21st, 2017.
Many neopagans have adopted Germanic Yule lore. Winter Solstice is believed to be the day of the horned God's rebirth, after his death at Samhain. The Goddess is at her crone stage, to be reborn a maiden. This solstice is a celebration of the beginning of the wheel of life, and a celebration of both death and rebirth.
Winter Solstice festivals often involve a big meal-time gathering and gift giving. Representations include the hanging of holly and the burning of yule logs.
Stonehenge is a popular destination for many celebrators of the Solstices. The monument aligns with the winter solstice's sunset, and the summer solstice's sunrise. Many Pagans flock to Stonehenge to see the first and last glimmers of light on this day.
Many will also celebrate with a candle lighting ceremony/ritual. You can create your own ritual welcoming back the light by incorporate candles associated with the colors of the season: white, silver, gold, red, & green.
Music is a large part of most modern religious and spiritual celebrations. Christmas is known for its carols, and some Pagans have taken it upon themselves to both create winter solstice music and/or remake popular Christmas carols for Pagan audiences. My favorite Pagan artist who has done this is Karina Skye. Karina has taken several popular American Christmas carols and given them a Pagan (specifically Wiccan) twist. They're very fun and family friendly, and great to listen to all season! Listen to my favorite, Silent Night, below:
Winter Solstice is a time of joy, peace, and family/community. I'm wishing you the brightest blessings as we welcome back the light on Thursday, December 21st. As we enter 2018, with a difficult year, both politically and personally for many people, behind us, I hope that the coming of the light reignites your Spirit and recharges and reenergizes you to take on all situations and tasks that will present themselves to you in 2018. May the Universal energies be with you. Blessed Be.