With the shortened daylight and the cold air creeping its way into our homes, it is an understandable desire to want to close the curtains, start a crackling fire, and really batten down the hatches.
But instead, we invite you to don your mittens and hat, pull on your jacket, lace up your winter boots, step outside for the shortest walk on the shortest day and celebrate the winter solstice with us.
What exactly do we mean?
The winter solstice, marked by the fewest daylight hours and the longest night in the Northern Hemisphere, is a day celebrated by many cultures all over the world. In Japan, people traditionally soak in hot baths with the yuzu citrus fruit to welcome the winter solstice, while Koreans cook red bean porridge meant to provide sustenance as well as serving to keep the evil spirits away. A select lucky few get to absorb the first rays of the day as they fill the ancient chambers at Newgrange in Ireland. No matter the tradition, the arrival of the winter solstice and the days growing longer are excellent reasons to celebrate.
Your celebration does not have to be as extravagant to still be meaningful, though. Instead, we are inviting you to layer on the thermals and simply take a walk around your own neighborhood.
At Rockholly, we’ve always felt that getting outdoors doesn’t necessarily mean having to climb a mountain. Sometimes a simple, short walk around the neighborhood is all we need to lift our spirits and feel connected to our surroundings.
We already know that spending time outside has proven beneficial to our mental and physical health and we don’t just mean the summer months. No matter how brief, a brisk winter walk provides many benefits as well.
But if you’re someone who dreads the day when temperatures drop below 5 degrees Celsius, take a lesson from our Scandinavian friends, ones that are much more accustomed to making the most out of much colder and darker days.
Friluftslivis the philosophy of living an outdoor life, deeply rooted in Norwegian and Swedish culture. It translates into “free air life” and is a belief that one should exist in a close connection to nature, no matter the weather. From enjoying hikes to snowshoeing to cross-country skiing, the Scandinavians know how to enjoy winter.
Depending on where you may be reading this from, it’s unlikely that you are receiving as much snow as the Scandinavians do. But if you live somewhere that receives even a sprinkling of snow, you know that winter is a special time when the world is put on a pedestal, making your walk all the more special.
On your neighborhood walk, take time to notice how your familiar surroundings might have been morphed by winter. Maybe it is a warm glow that peeks out from underneath a frost-dusted street lamp, or perhaps delicate red berries are showcasing a circular coat of ice. The typically busy world seems a bit quieter, and that familiar calmness settles in.
If your nearest neighbor isn’t for miles, a walk in the woods with your beloved pup might be just the solitude you are searching for in a busy season. Even despite being dressed in heavy frost, the forest trees somehow manage to stand a little bit prouder.
It can be easy in the winter to become claustrophobic within our own thoughts. The gentle rhythm of our stride can allow ideas to flow freely and bring forth mental clarity. Not to mention, walking also increases serotonin which can help counter those traditional winter blues.
While we know it can be tempting to stay inside and hold out for warmer weather, come outside with us and enjoy the moment before the world begins its gradual shift to spring. When you return, you may have only been gone for 15 minutes, and others might not have even noticed that you have momentarily slipped away. Yet you’ve likely managed to return with a clearer mind, uplifted spirit and perhaps a newly instilled sense of friluftsliv that will carry you through the remainder of winter.
Now settle back in, grab a warm mug, and look forward to the brighter days ahead.