Discover the origins of this ancient festival, along with our favourite winter solstice traditions
The day the sun stands still. As the seasonal scales shift from the darkness of winter towards a sunlit spring, cultures all over the world celebrate the winter solstice. Awaiting its time to be awoken by the arrival of a new season, the Earth lies dormant. In its state of slumber, we embrace the chance to rest and reflect before the emergence of a reborn sun.
The shortest day of the year, with only seven hours 49 minutes and 42 seconds of daylight, the solstice will take place on 22 December at 3.27am, when the sun will reach its lowest point in the sky. For our ancestors, this moment signalled the start of a solar festival known as Yule or Jul. Beginning as an ancient Norse celebration thousands of years ago, the 12 day-long festivities involved great feasts and the burning of Yule logs to symbolise the returning of the sun.
Amid the dustings of frost and lengthening nights, we are confronted by our successes and failures of the past year, and new aspirations arise. With the return of brighter days, we emerge enlightened and transformed, ready for what lies ahead.
Celebrating the winter solstice at home can take many forms. From solstice salutations with mindful yoga practice, to experiencing the midwinter sunset virtually at Stonehenge (a sacred site full of mystical wonder for the modern pagan), to marking the occasion by appreciating the world around you and taking a moment for self-reflection.
Our favourite tradition at Aja Botanicals is lighting a candle and immersing ourselves in the fragrance of the forest floor. Hand-crafted from a blend of cedarwood, lavender, oak moss and galbanum, Into the Mystic lets you reconnect with nature and inspires a sense of calm into your surroundings. Strike a match and light up the longest night, reminding yourself of the warm glow of the sun and lifting the spirit with scents that celebrate nature in all its changing forms.
For Aja Botanicals founder Tilly Wood, the winter solstice offers an opportunity for reflection, appreciation and meditation on the link between past and present:
‘I always like to take a moment to think about my ancestors and appreciate the journey that they forged through life, to give us the opportunity to be here today.’
Simple ways you might like to mark the winter solstice
1. Take a winter walk. Witness the transition from dark to light by taking yourself on an early morning walk. Marvel at the natural wonders around you and breathe in the crisp morning air.
2. Clear out your space. The solstice is a time for shifting energies and reflecting on your daily habits. Remove items that are no longer serving you and make way for the new.
3. Enjoy some stillness. Take a few minutes to yourself to enjoy a moment’s peace. Make time to mentally recharge and enjoy being in the present moment, setting intentions for the year ahead.
4. Bring light into your home. As you light a candle, reflect on all that you are grateful for this past year and make a wish for the year to come. Take turns with loved ones as you illuminate your home by candlelight and open your heart to new opportunities.
From the grounding Into The Mystic to the cleansing power of Dreams, our range of natural home fragrances is designed to transform your space, mindset and energy.