This is a repost from our "celebrating season" series of blog posts.
The celebration of the winter solstice has been practiced for thousands of years by cultures all over the world. It signals the beginning of winter and the shortest day in the northern hemisphere, and also the return of light as the days begin to get longer and nights shorter. The winter solstice occurs on or around the twenty-first of December.
Winter solstice is a pretty big deal in our house and I want to share with you a few of our favorite ways of celebrating.
Bring in evergreen bows. Trees have been decorated for thousands of years as a way to honor the spirit of winter and life.
Create a winter nature table. If you made a fall nature table, now is the time to change the parts to represent winter. Bring in winter elements like pine cones and evergreens, and create a snowy landscape with white fabric or wool batting.
Make your own candles. Winter solstice is a time to celebrate light. A great way to to do this is to make your own candles. You can use our Sparkle tutorials for snow candles or candle luminaries or dip your own.
Find and decorate a Yule log. This is not the edible cake you often eat at holiday times but rather a log you decorate and put on your solstice eve fire. Like a totem of good luck, you draw or carve wishes or worries or whatever you like onto the log and then burn it.
Trace your shadow. This activity is a real favorite for my nature-loving kids. A week before the winter solstice, take a long piece of paper like from a roll of art paper or find a place on the drive way where the marks won't get erased and begin to trace your shadow. It's easiest if you pick a specific time of day and stick to it. For example, 12pm is good. Pick a spot for your child to stand and trace around their feet. This is the spot they will return to every day. Then mark the line of where their shadow ends and write the date. Do this every day and watch as their shadow gets longer and longer. You can continue after the solstice and watch the shadow get shorter and shorter.
Take a cold weather walk. Taking a cold weather walk is good for everyone. Bundle up and go out to play! Martin and Sylvia are always taking cold weather walks. Remember their walk though the frosty icy meadow to go check on Rufus, the neighbor's dog?
Bring out the winter books. There are so many wonderful winter books in the world. Here are a few of our favorites:
- The Shortest Day by Wendy Pfeffer
- The Big Snow by Berta and Elmer Hader
- The Tomten and the Fox by Astrid Lindgrin
- Winter by Gerda Muller
- Olie's Sky Trip by Elsa Beskow
- White Snow Bright Snow by Alvin Tresselt
- The Sun Egg by Elsa Beskow
- The Happy Day by Ruth Krass
Spend some time with darkness. This one is really important for us. In fact, we spend a whole week not using electric lights to really get a sense of the darkness. Instead of turning on the lights, we make candles and use those. The use of candles in the dark slows everything down. The rush of the season seems to stop. I recommend you try it on the solstice. In the morning when your family wakes, make and eat breakfast by candle light if it is still dark. Then in the evening, make and eat a celebratory dinner by candle light and end the evening with either a bonfire outside or fire in the fire place. Tell stories by candlelight and enjoy the longest night.
Make sun-related crafts:
- Paint sun rocks
- Make sun shaped cookies
- Make pine cone bird feeders
- Make orange pomanders
- Make a winter suncatcher
- Make a sun tree topper
There are many Sparkle Stories to listen to that talk about this magical time of year and celebration of light. Simply log into your Sparkle account and search for winter solstice.
Wishing you all a Happy Solstice!
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About the Author
KC is a full-time radical homemaker and mama to two spunky little girls. She writes about all kinds of radical goodness, from gardening and cooking with whole foods to crafting, sewing, homeschooling, and mama musings. Read more on her blog The Nettlesome Life.