8 ways to celebrate the winter solstice in Sheridan County

By Caitlin Addlesperger
The Sheridan Press

 

As the days grow darker and darker, I look forward more and more to the winter solstice. Even typing the words gives me a cozy, ancient feeling.

For thousands of years, the longest night of the year has been celebrated with festivals of light across the Northern Hemisphere, from the European Yule to the Asian Dongzhi to the nearly ubiquitous Christmas.

Officially kicking off winter, this year’s solstice will arrive Saturday, Dec. 21. Here are a few ways to celebrate in Sheridan County.

 

1. Celebrate the sun.

Watch the sun rise (7:42 a.m.) or set (4:30 p.m.) among the circle of worn stone columns at Bellevue Memorial Park in Sheridan Municipal Cemetery.

Overlooking the mountains and the plains, the columns function as a sun calendar device, dividing the year between the winter and summer solstices.

So, if you want a sense of Stonehenge in Sheridan, head up Huntington Street. 

 

2. Decorate.

Have you hunted your Christmas tree yet? Hung a wreath? If so, you are already on your way to celebrating the winter solstice.

The tradition of decorating with evergreens is longstanding, according to History.com. For many cultures, the vibrant boughs served as a reminder that the sun would return, bringing with it green plants — life — back to the earth.

 

3. Take a walk in the weak sunlight.

Speaking of returning to the earth, get in touch with nature by strolling around Kendrick Park or hiking in the Bighorns.

Pro tip: Instagram your shadow. Thanks to the low arc of the sun, it will be at its longest. 

 

4. Have a bonfire outside.

Or light a log fire at home. Or just turn on that crackling fireplace video.

Why? Celebrate the return of the sun by lighting up the night. In Europe, revelers would set fire to the “Yule log” — which was often an entire tree — and keep it lit for days. 

 

5. Google Image Krampus.

Warning: Not safe for children, though don’t tell the Germans. All ages love this terrifying horned goat-demon, who supposedly wards off bad spirits during the winter solstice, according to an article in TIME magazine. 

 

6. Feast.

Preferably by candlelight.

In between harvests, meals during the colder months were traditionally sparse. But the solstice celebration marked an opportunity to share festive food with family, friends and neighbors. 

 

7. Revel with the community.

Get the most out of the shortest day of the year by hitting up any of the festive events in Sheridan County! A few highlights:

7 a.m. Tongue River Valley Community Center Ugly Sweater 5k 

9 a.m. Holiday Open House with Bonafide

9 a.m. Birding at The Brinton

12 p.m. Beer Release at Black Tooth Brewing

1:30 p.m. The 20th annual Tuba Christmas Concert at the Holiday Inn

2 p.m. Create your own centerpiece at a Landon's Greenhouse workshop

5 p.m. Christmas Eve with the Kendricks 

6 p.m. Live music at Luminous Brewhouse

7 p.m. Winter Solstice Concert featuring Sarah Sample and The Two Tracks at Soul Revival Studio

Find the details for these events in the calendar of this app.

 

8. Lighten up.

I am the first to be dramatic about missing the sun: Seasonal affective disorder is real, guys.

And sure, it’s dark and cold — but it will only get brighter from here. In the meantime, I am seriously considering leaving my eight-foot-tall Christmas tree up ‘til the March equinox. 

How are you celebrating the winter solstice? Share your ideas: caitlin.addlesperger@thesheridanpress.com.

 

About The Sheridan Press
The Sheridan Press has served Sheridan County, Wyoming, since 1887. The award-winning independent newspaper offers print and online news delivery platforms to the thriving community, which boasts a college; a lively arts, culture, and music scene; a bustling downtown; and many other amenities, including unlimited outdoor recreational opportunities. To subscribe to The Sheridan Press, click here.