The Gratitude Experiment: Rituals of Gratitude & Celebration

Gratitude Experiment

The time of year has arrived when I can feel winter in my bones.

My pace is slowing down and I am craving more rest and more quiet. I want to eat steamy soups and roasted root vegetables. I want thick socks, calm conversations and to stare into candlelight.

I am craving pause.

For us northern hemisphere-dwellers, this is a normal feeling as we approach the darkest day of the year – winter solstice. Tired, quiet, and reflective.

I love Frieda Kipar Bay’s words on this season of darkness and reflection in relation to what is happening in the natural world:

And with the turning inward, our root grows deeper into the depths, offering the promise of more stability and ease in growing again one day.

Of course, there’s gifts, left for us and the birds: persimmons hang like christmas balls, rose hips jump out of an otherwise grey landscape, acorns and bay nuts wait patiently for passersby.

Maybe that’s why we celebrate this season with gift-giving, our mimicry of the plant world silently influencing each day.

Rituals of Gratitude & Celebration

I love this concept of turning inward so our roots grow deeper for the day when we will burst through the soil once again. It’s nature’s wisdom letting us know that it’s ok to pause and reflect in this time of darkness, because we have faith that the day will get longer and the sun will shine brighter once again.

This is why we celebrate this time of year, no matter our religious practices.

Humanity comes together worldwide each winter to pause and be in the light during the darkest time of the year. Rituals are such a beautiful and important part of our lives during these winter holidays.

This article from Scientific American explains the effectiveness of rituals, whether you believe you are doing them or not. Rituals help to reduce anxiety, boost confidence, and even alleviate grief in humans.

Rituals are a wonderful way to signify this time of year. They are a way to ground into the gratitude we feel for the past year – the celebrations and the challenges. Our winter time rituals offer us a way to honor our trip around the sun in a way that feels complete.

Your Rituals of Gratitude & Celebration

1. Share and reflect on your favorite Winter time ritual and why it’s so meaningful to you.

Take a few minutes to open your journal and reflect on the winter time rituals and traditions you already have in place.

How do you honor this time of year, alone or with your loved ones? Is it something you do with your spiritual community or your family? Does it coincide with the Solstice, Christmas, or Hannukah? Is it a place you go, meal you eat, or activity you share with your loved ones?

Why are they meaningful to you? How do they make you feel?

Write it down to crystallize it in your mind and heart.

2. Create a new ritual to pause and honor this poignant time of year.

Take this opportunity to really feel into how you want to honor this time of year (in a way you aren’t ritualizing already) and create a new ritual around it.

Here are some ideas to get you started:

  • Show appreciation to the animals out in nature by creating edible ornaments to adorn the trees with this Orange Birdseed Ornament and this Apple Birdseed Ornament.
  • Invite your community over for a bonfire and mulled wine or cider. Lead a short ritual where you go around the group and give everyone an opportunity to say one thing they want to celebrate from the past year out loud.
  • Turn off all the lights and devices in your home and move around in candlelight for an evening. Immerse yourself in the glow of the candlelight and the quiet reflection it gives you.
  • Get together with friends and craft together. When you can ritualize creative work with a community, it brings more sacredness (and enjoyment) to the act. I like these evergreen smoke cleansing sticks, this Yule Log tutorial, and this adorable pinecone person craft.
  • Engage your senses by decking the halls with sweet-smelling herbs. The olfactory sense is one of the strongest and using it in a ritual is a great way to seal in the feelings you are cultivating in a ritual (like celebration, love, and connection).
  • Hang up cuttings of rosemary, bay, holly, ivy, and/or fir around your home and name each one as a blessing for the year. {This is a traditional solstice game and the origin of the song Deck the Halls.}
  • Invite some friends over (cultivating that cozy community feel again) to sing carols or play board games.
  • Take a tech-free day to walk outside, read by the fire, and end with a candlelit bath. While technology is amazing with the way it connects us, it can take a big energetic toll on us (particularly during this slower, darker time of year). Taking a day away from technology is a great way to nourish yourself and honor this winter season.

I would love for you to share your results from the experiment with me and the Dabblist Community!

Post a picture of yourself doing one (or both!) of these practices with the hashtag #GratitudeExperiment and be sure to tag me @beccapiastrelli on Instagram.

Join us next week for the final portion of this 2015 Gratitude Experiment {it’s my favorite!}.

(Watercolor dabbled by Becca Piastrelli, Image via Katie Daisy)

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