Friday, December 21, 2018, is Winter solstice and the shortest day of the year.

The solstice this year will be extra special because it will be followed the next day by a full moon known as the Cold Moon, and you might be able to see a meteor shower to boot.

It’s no surprise many cultures and religions celebrate a holiday — whether it be Christmas, Hanukkah, Kwanzaa, or pagan festivals — that coincides with the return of the sun and longer days to come.

Ancient peoples whose survival depended on a precise knowledge of seasonal cycles marked this first day of winter with elaborate ceremonies and celebrations. Spiritually, these celebrations symbolize the opportunity for renewal, casting off old habits and negative feelings and an embracing of hope amid darkness as the days once again begin to grow longer.

Many of the ancient symbols and ceremonies of the solstice live on today. Here are five extraordinary places to experience something magical during winter’s relentlessly long night:

UNITED KINGDOM: Cornwall and Stonehenge

INDIA: Makar Sankranti and kite festivals

CANADA: Lantern festival in Vancouver

I will be practicing simple rituals today to celebrate. I’ll be lighting candles to symbolize the increasing Light. I’ll make a shrine using water, earth, fire, and air and I’ll do a fire ritual. I’ll be reflecting over the past year; my perceived successes and shortcomings. I’ll write out what I wish to let go of (i.e. emotional baggage, past hurts, anger, grudges, losses). On another piece of paper, I’ll write my intentions, dreams, and hearts desires for the coming year. I will read aloud what I’ve written and then I’ll burn the papers afterward. The idea is to cast off that which holds you back, making space to birth your hopes and dreams. Best wishes to you and yours and here’s to an extraordinary 2019!

(partial adaptation CNN Travel)