Celebrate the First Day of Winter


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.


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About Abby Quillen

Abby Quillen writes fiction and magazine articles. Her articles and essays have appeared in YES! Magazine, The Christian Science Monitor, Colorado Central Magazine, and on Common Dreams, Nation of Change, Reader Supported News, The Daily Good, Truthout, and Shareable.net. You can find more of her writing at http://abbyquillen.com.


  1. According to that website you linked to, the sun will rise at 10:14 am, and then set at 3:41 pm where I live in Alaska. I am not a particularly big fan of these short days, but the almost nightless days during the summer more than make up for it. 🙂

    For the first day of winter I plan on baking cookies with my daughter. She is 3 years old, and loves to help cut out the shapes with the extensive amount of cookies cutters we have. Though it is technically “the first day”, it’s honestly felt like winter has been serving up its chill of ice and snow for a month and a half already. Sometimes I don’t feel like hiking outside when it’s -8 on the temperature scale, but being cooped up inside doesn’t do any good, either.

    • Wow, Danielle, that is a short day! I spent a month in Iceland one summer and loved the constant daylight. It was magical to see people out and about in the middle of the night, although I didn’t sleep much. I guess you make up for that in the winter months. Cookie-making sounds like the perfect activity for -8 degree weather.

  2. SavvyChristine says:

    We spend our time outside hiking, sledding, or snowshoeing depending on the weather. We do one small, homemade gift each, and then light a beeswax candle with supper. Small traditions, but noce ones I think.

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