DH and I both come from families that celebrate Christmas and now that we have our own little family, we continue to celebrate the holiday. But lately, we've been re-evaluating our traditions and have tried to incorporate things that are important to us. One of those new traditions (for us, at least) that we are going to try to include in the season is the recognition and celebration of the Winter Solstice.
The Shortest Day by Wendy Pfeffer is a great introduction to Winter Solstice. The science behind the solstice is explained, as well as the history of many Solstice celebrations in different parts of the world. The text informs without being too complex or lengthy for its intended audience - children being read a picture book. There's a lot in here that grown-ups might not have known. For example, I didn't know that the Incas of Peru used a reflective surface to light a fire from the rising Winter Solstice sun & kept it burning all year. I also find it so interesting how we continue to hold onto some traditions - such as decorating with evergreens, putting lights on a tree - that are thousands of years old. Interestingly, these traditions are associated with Christmas, but they're really a combination of different cultures all celebrating the same thing - a celebration of light and the joy of knowing that warmer, longer days are just ahead.
At the end of the story, there are a few pages with "Solstice facts" and activities. These are really interesting, science-based observations and activities that kids can do. I also love the pages on "have a Winter Solstice party" and "have a Winter Solstice party for the birds." These are all great ideas for kids to explore the topic even further. The pictures are lovely and colorful while at the same time invoking the subtle colors & soft light of Winter.
I've been thinking a lot about how our family can celebrate the solstice & what kinds of activities we might do. It's really like a blank canvas & we can choose to celebrate it however is the best fit for the Bachs. I'm sure it will take a little trial & error, but I really think it will be a lot of fun! DH and I are true nature lovers & we are hoping to instill that into our children. Solstice is a perfect celebration because it's all about nature and the rhythm and cycles of our world.
I'll blog later this week about our first Solstice Celebration!