Closure of the past and start of the new year – part 3: Rawly Nights

This is the third and last part of a three part series about nature connected rituals for the end of the year. If you want to learn more about the closure of the past and start of the new year, you will find that in part 1 – closing nights and part 2 – winter solstice. There is also a german version of this post.

The rawly nights (Rauhnächte) have regained their popularity the last few years. Many people are searching for instructions or guidance on how to spend those nights, what they tell us, which rituals can be used. This post should offer you an attunement and some ideas on how to do that. I do however also want to offer the perspective, not to have to follow any instructions, but to really listen to your inner voice of what is important right now. For this, you need to be really quiet and calm, but it might be worth it.

Why are there rawly nights?

Being an old european custom, there are many different explanations about the origin of the rawly nights. One of them explains it as “time between the years”, because the moon year (with 12 moon cycles) is only 354 days, but the sun year (time the earth needs to circle the sun) takes up 365 days. With this calculation, the rawly nights should already start on the evening of December 20th, so that there are 11 days and 12 nights until January 1st. Other traditions start with the night of December 24th to the 25th, and therefore the rawly nights then take until the night of December 5th until the 6th (Three Kings Day). Still other traditions only talk about four rawly nights: Dec 20th to 21st, Dec 24th to 25th, Dec 31st to Jan 1st and Jan 5th to 6th.

However, I invite and encourage you to connect deeper with nature and the spirit of this time. A time that does not know calendar days, does not know when the calendar tells that the new year starts, or when it is Christmas. A time, where you don’t have to determine exactly, when the longest night was. When we live without watches and calendars in nature, we start to be more deeply aware of what is and what wants to be.

The spirit of this time

In general, this dark time of the year is used by nature-connected people to move closer together. We spend time with loved ones, sit around the fire and tell stories. These stories deliver not just entertainment. They talk of the past, of how it was back then, show challenges in ife and how to handle them, communicate values and an approach to life, and they create a sense of belonging.

But it is also the time of dreams. Because it is dark longer, we sleep more, and therefore our “work” shifts to the dreams. It is about processing everything that happened, integrating, transforming and therefore understanding it. What kind of symbolism do you find in your dream stories? What feelings and emotions can you detect? Do you know them from your time awake? And what kind of message can you identify?

Rituals for the rawly nights

Wishes for the new year

A very nice ritual for that time are the wishes for the new year. For this, you write down 13 wishes that you want to invite for the next year, on separate sheets of paper. To write down these wishes, you can use the time between December 21st and 24th, after letting go of the old year (see locking nights).

Starting with the night of Dec 24th to 25th, you blindly draw one of the wishes each night and burn them. These wishes are sent to the universe and will be delivered to you on the respective month (1st night: january, 2nd night: feb, etc.). The remaining 13th wish is the only one that you yourself have to keep focus on to fulfill. It is in your hands.

Dream time and listening

The dark time and dream time is first and foremost a time for receiving and listening. Therefore it is especially important, to be aware of your dreams in those 12 nights. Write down everything you can remember. Maybe you’ll find an answer to a challenge for the respective month of the coming year already in your dreams of these 12 nights.

If you have trouble to remember your dreams, here are some tipps that might help you

  • go to bed earlier than usual
  • before you go to sleep, pass your day in review. what happened? what was important? what was unfinished?
  • before you go to sleep, send out a thought/wish that you would like to remember your dreams
  • before you go to bed, don’t watch any emotionally stressful movies/shows
  • don’t expose your eyes to artifical “computer” light (e.g. any “blue” light like from mobile phones, computers or similar) for at least half an hour before you go to bed
  • as soon as it gets dark, it is best to only use dimmed lighting, indirect lighting and also warm (light bulb instead of LED) light
  • prepare pen and paper next to your bed so that you can write down everything you remember right after waking up

Most importantly…

In that time, it is most important to do only as much as you can and wnat to do while still having a feeling of joy or excitement. There are no strict rules, and the way we spend those days (and of course also all the other days), is much more important than the precisely complying with the rituals.

I wish you a pleasant and peaceful time during the rawly nights!
And I’d love to read about how the rituals worked for you and if you found the tipps and questions useful for your own way of spending that time. You can leave your story in the comments, or write an e-mail to

Sources (german):
Von Sonnwend bis Rauhnacht – Valentin Kirschgruber
artedeablog: Heute-beginnen die Sperrnaechte – Verschliess das alte Jahr

Closure of the past and start of the new year – part 3: Rawly Nights
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