7 ways to celebrate Winter Solstice 2020 | Great Lakes Guide

People and the Lakes

7 ways to celebrate Winter Solstice 2020

Published December 4, 2020

With the winter months ahead, many of you are probably thinking of the dreary winter months to come. But let's not forget the many fun-filled family activities we can do during this winter in the Great Lakes Region, like going winter camping in Ontario parks, ice skating, snowshoeing, and sliding.

With the holidays coming close, there is also another time of celebration and ceremony to honour and acknowledge our place of being here on earth. It's called Winter Solstice. Many Indigenous nations around the world celebrate this tradition on December 21st every year.

Winter Solstice is when the sun is at its lowest point, creating the longest night of the year. During Solstice, First Nations surrounding the Great Lakes acknowledged and honoured the natural world's patterns. They were told only to tell stories and teachings unless there was snow covering the land. It was a time of reflection and a time when stories would be told around the fire.

Article image

So preparation for winter, Indigenous people settled in one area for the rest of the season. They chose a place where there would be abundant food sources and enjoyed their summer and fall harvest of smoked fish, wild game, berries, and medicine in the long months ahead.

Here are 7 indigenous traditions that you and your family can do to celebrate Winter Solstice:


Give old and unused stuff around your home as gifts

Instead of throwing it away, give things you don't use anymore to people you love. This will also help create a space that makes you feel less cluttered, which will leave you feeling lighter and clearer.

Article image


Reflect on the past year

Many people can become caught up in their busy day-to-day lives. To Pick a peaceful area where you can give yourself the time and space you need to reflect. This could be an area outside or a place inside that you enjoy and feel good about.

Think about some of the positives and negatives in your life. Think about how much you have learned from these experiences that made who you are today, with the guidance of your strength, resilience, and power. With each experience, you continue to grow and learn. Once you reflect on these experiences, it's always good to let go of the negative one to open new opportunities, new friendships, and new beginnings.

Article image


Have a fire

Fire can be mesmerizing and healing. You can sing, pray, dance, and tell stories around a fire. Before European settlement, Indigenous family members in their homes would share stories passed down through generations by elders and family.

Article image
Winona Ominika


Cook and share a healthy meal together

Sharing and cooking a meal can bring you and your family together. Having a space to cook, eat, and nourish your bodies and your loved ones also feeds our physical and spiritual wellbeing. Make traditional foods or a favorite recipe from a loved one.

Article image


Take a day off and rest, or practice self-care with yourself and others

If taking the day off isn't possible, set aside 10 minutes to focus on yourself, without guilt, without intrusive thoughts, and without any electric devices. Take a moment to be present, and just be you. If you have a furry companion, family, or friends, spend some quality time with them.

Article image

Here are some simple ways to practice self-care:

    Give yourself a warm bath or shower with essential oils
    Put on a facemask
    Take care of your feet and hands with a manicure or pedicure
    Receive or give a massage
    Braid someone's hair or braid your own
    Smudge and set out a prayer

With whatever you are doing, set aside time for yourself to take care of your spirit, mind, and body.

Article image


Drink natural and herbal medicines

The world is filled with natural remedies and medicines that help with your mind, body, and spirit. Indigenous people know the power of medicinal teas and their healing properties. There might even be some in your own backyard. While making your tea, also thank the being of the plants and roots that have been brought to you.

Click here to discover simple traditional medicine teas you can make. Enjoy them by yourself or with a loved one.
Article image


Count your blessings

It's so easy to get caught up in our day-to-day lives. Maybe you feel some things are not working out, events that have affected yourself or others in a negative way, or like you have lost something in your life. All these things can be valid and can help you realize that, in all the mess, it helps to be grateful for the small stuff.

YOU are blessed because you are here living and breathing. Be thankful for even the smallest things, like the roof over your head, clean air, your physical abilities, whatever they may be. You can say your blessings out loud in ceremony or meditation. You can write them down on a piece of paper or even start a gratitude journal. The list is endless; the longer, the better.

Article image

Though not everyone celebrates Christmas, know there are other celebrations and ceremonies that people worldwide honour within their own cultures. No matter what you celebrate, always remember to honour and acknowledge the world, nature, and your family and always say thank you.