Saturday is the first day of winter and the shortest day of 2013. Seasonal shifts can be the perfect time to take a day off from routine or the holiday frenzy. Here are a few simple ideas for celebrating the new season:
Make a point of watching the sunrise and sunset. You probably won’t even have to set an alarm. At our house, it will rise at 7:44 and set at 4:37 on Saturday. (The good news is longer, brighter days are coming.) You can find out what time the sun will rise and set where you live here.
Take a hike, go cross-country skiing, or go for a walk and look for signs of the season. Listen to winter’s music. Compare winter’s textures: dry bark, soggy leaves, spongy moss. Notice winter’s smoky scents.
Find gifts for each other from nature. Exchange small handmade gifts. Make maple caramel corn for friends or neighbors. The key here is to keep it simple.
Serve up your favorite winter crops: beets, winter squash, potatoes, onions, kale, cabbage, or parsnips. We are fans of stuffed squash this time of the year, and I’m gearing up to try my first efforts at homemade sauerkraut. Lighting candles can turn an ordinary meal into a celebration.
Spend some time relaxing together in front of the fire. Share one thing you’ve lost and one thing you’ve gained over the past year. Tell stories about your best and worst holiday memories. Make wishes for the coming year. Reflect on the lessons of winter: the importance of rest, dormancy, and down time.
The key to seasonal celebrations is to make them simple and relaxing. The last thing most of us need is another stressful winter tradition. Our family’s celebrations are casual and fun, but we always enjoy pausing to notice nature’s cyclical dance.
How will you celebrate the first day of winter? I’d love to hear about it in the comments.