For the past few years, I have been trying, not too unsuccessfully, to start a tradition in my family of celebrating the winter solstice. On the calendar, it marks the longest night here in the northern hemisphere, and ancient cultures would celebrate the return of the light at this time. For me, it seems like a great way to celebrate nature and the change of the seasons. It’s also a way to learn about history and recognize how this phenomenon was the reason many of our holiday celebrations are celebrated this time of year.
Unfortunately, I don’t always plan ahead. My life is busy enough as it is, and at this time of year, we’re also getting ready to celebrate Christmas. So I put this list together of simple ways you can celebrate the solstice that won’t take much advance preparation. I usually let my boys pick how they want to celebrate the day. If you celebrate the winter solstice, please tell us how you do that in the comments section.
Learn the Science ::. For young kids, you might want to check out this short video that explains the winter and summer solstice. If you have a globe and a small lamp, you can also easily simulate how the earth orbits the sun by putting the lamp on the floor and walking the globe around it. Use the simple image on this page to guide you.
Celebrate Nature :: Many people like to celebrate nature on the winter solstice, and you can probably think of many ways to do this. One idea is getting out of the house for a hike. Or go somewhere to feed the birds. You can make simple bird feeders by spreading peanut butter on a bagel, and then dipping them into some birdseed. Hang them in the trees in your yard or along a trail in the woods. Why not begin planning your spring garden early? Peruse seed catalogs and do some research on how to attract birds and butterflies to your yard. Or you could start a nature journal and jot down the wildlife you encounter on your excursions.
Celebrate the Light :: Turn off your electric lights and use candles. Take a break from the Internet, make a warm soup or other favorite dishes, spend time with your loved ones, and tell stories. Talk about the goals you would like to accomplish in the coming year.
Make a Winter Solstice Tree :: One year my boys and I went outside to gather small branches that fell from the trees. We arranged the branches in some vases and then hung paper snowflakes on them. This was fun to do and made a pretty winter decoration for the house. I think I’ll see if my boys want to do that again this year. ;)
What is your favorite tradition for celebrating the winter solstice?
SHELLI BOND PABIS is home | school | life magazine’s senior editor. She writes about her family’s homeschooling journey at www.mamaofletters.com.