Celebrating Winter Solstice
It is hard to believe but 2020 will soon be coming to an end. As we prepare to enter the season of winter on December 21, when we come to the longest night of the year, it is a great time to engage in some activities that celebrate the presence of light. During this time of year there are many celebrations of light including Hanukkah, Christmas, and Kwanza. Some traditions practiced during these holidays come from original Winter Solstice celebrations. The Winter Solstice, originally a Pagan holiday, is also known as Midwinter, hibernate solstice, or Yule is the first astronomical day of winter. In New Castle County, Delaware, the Winter Solstice will occur on December 21 at 5:02 AM EST. You watch the Winter Solstice at Stonehedge event live by clicking here.
Celebrating the Winter Solstice provides a wonderful opportunity to focus and surround yourself with nature and to also celebrate some of the original solstice customs and learn how some relate to some of our modern holiday traditions.
What is the Winter Solstice?
The winter solstice in the northern hemisphere, in scientific terms, has to do with the position of the earth as it relates to the sun. Check out this video to learn more:
What are some Winter Solstice Celebration Traditions?
Enjoy this reading of The Shortest Day by Wendy Pfeffer and the telling of the Folktale, Deer Mother. Do any of these stories or traditions sound familiar? Discuss with your family which of these traditions you observe during your winter holiday celebrations.
Adopt a New Winter Solstice Tradition
Make a Yule Tree for Neighborhood Critters to Eat!
Originally Yule Trees were decorated with small candles and celestial symbols such as the sun, the moon, and stars. Does this sound familiar? In addition to decorating a tree inside your home, why not consider creating a modern-day Winter Solstice tree outside in your yard. Everyone can get involved and decorate the tree with homemade natural ornaments such as dried fruit, garlands made of berries, popcorn and o cereal, and pinecones covered with peanut butter and birdseed, or make these bird feeder ornaments.
Here are some step-by-step craft projects for your edible Yule Tree:
- Bird Feeder Ornaments [via: The DIY Mommy]
- Bird-friendly Garland [via: The Spruce]
- Fruit Garland Feeder [via: Kids Activates Blog]
Bring Light into the Darkness
Bring some light to the darkness of winter by making a candle or lantern or have a winter bonfire to symbolize the light each person carries within them.
When it is REALLY cold outside, you can craft your own ice lantern to bring some light to the cold winter darkness. Go on a nature walk and gather a variety of natural materials such as mini-pinecones, evergreen pieces, berries, and other objects of interest.
Spend some time outside on a winter evening around the bonfire gazing into the sky (winter is a wonderful time for stargazing), celebrating both the darkness and the light.
In Winter Solstice traditions, the orange is a symbol of the sun. Creating an orange pomander is a lovely, fragrant way to celebrate the return of the sun. The pomander is created by pushing cloves through the skin of a fresh orange creating the design of your choice.