Monday, January 13, 2014

Celebrating Winter Solstice with young children

Each year I try to add something as we develop our family's tradition for celebrating winter solstice. 

This year was fun because the kids were able to understand a little bit of what we were doing. 

There are a lot of ideas of ways to celebrate the shortest day of the year.  Some people use the solstice as a time to let go of negative feelings and resentments. Solstice can be a pause, a time to reflect in the midst of the holiday season.  But for many people it is a celebration, a time to rejoice that darkness will begin to recede and the days become longer, 'the passing from darkness into light.'

This year I wanted to host a solstice party but it just wasn't a good time for us to have a party. I'm hoping maybe next year I can host.  There are some great ideas for a solstice party, a combination of Solstice, Yuletide, Wassailing, they all have similar traditions.

Typically we would have a bonfire but this year we didn't. The weather was cooperating but we didn't have a burn pile ready to go. 

The weather was so nice we were able to spend the day outside which is an important part of observing the solstice. To be out in nature, be in tune with the season and the rhythm of the earth. The kids and I took a walk through the woods gathering greenery and holly berries and cutting some herbs from the garden. We then took a log from our woodpile and decorated it as our mini yule log.  We used it as our table centerpiece for dinner that night. 

Speaking of dinner...another tradition is to eat foods that are yellow or round in shape or color, things to represent the sun.  I didn't plan this in advance and had to scramble to come up with something for dinner.  I ended up fixing chicken tenders (golden in color), slices of cheddar cheese, corn, orange slices and saffron rice. It felt a little odd eating a meal that was all one color but it was fun!  The best part of the meal was that my son and husband both ate orange slices.  I was impressed that my son ate them considering the eating issues we have had with him.  What I didn't realize at the time was that it was an even bigger deal that my husband ate them.  I found out later that he hadn't eaten an orange in at least 20 years, maybe 30.  

How did I not know this???

Anyway, they both ate oranges and liked them, so that was a success in itself.  Talk about new beginnings....

Winter Solstice dinner

our "yule log"

We read some kids books that talk about the winter solstice.   Two of my favorites are:

The Winter Solstice by Ellen Jackson

I have more ideas that I wasn't able to add this year, maybe next year we will add more!  I'll close now with a poem that I read to my children. 

"The Shortest Day"
by Susan Cooper

So the shortest day came,
and the year died,
And everywhere down the centuries
of the snow-white world
Came people singing, dancing,
To drive the dark away. 
They lighted candles in the winter trees;
They hung their homes with evergreen;
They burned beseeching fires all night long
To keep the year alive.
And when the new year's sunshine blazed awake
They shouted, reveling.
Through all the frosty ages you can hear them
Echoing, behind us - listen!
All the long echoes sing the same delight,
This shortest day,
As promise wakens in the sleeping land:
They carol, feast, give thanks,
And dearly love their friends,
and hope for peace.
And so do we, here, now,
This year and every year.
Welcome Yule!

'til next time...

1 comment:

  1. just read this post! i had no idea about celebrating winter solstice! :) fun ideas! (and if it makes you feel any better, i just found out that dan doesn't like onions on his pizza....after how many years of us in college and married life of ordering pizzas). i think it's good, though, that there will always be things that surprise us!


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