The Winter Solstice marks the longest night and shortest day of the year, as well as the official beginning of winter. The phenomenon is caused when the Earth’s axis tilts the furthest away from the sun, giving less than 12 hours of daylight to all locations north of the equator. Although it's the day of greatest darkness, the Solstice is a time of great hope for the sun’s rebirth, as we start to move towards the Summer Solstice once again. This moment has been marked with festivals and feasts by peoples around the world for centuries.
For kids of all ages, a simple celebration is still powerful. Although both ancient and modern pagan Solstice rituals span several days, we suggest a celebration on Solstice Eve and or Solstice Day. We tend to focus on themes related to evergreens, circles, lights and hopes. Whatever you decide, we wish you light and a very Merry Solstice.
Helping kids become alert to and welcoming of the changes in their environment connects them to nature and helps them embrace change—and there is nothing more predictable in life than change. This simple, yet powerful idea, can be one of life's most important skills to learn. The simple ways we celebrate Solstice also help kids develop their senses, engaging in powerful behavior patterns associated with learning (e.g. transporting and rotating schema).
Celebrating Solstice has even deeper community roots. Regardless of your family's religion, Solstice is a tradition that transcends religious beliefs and traditions, and can be celebrated universally and inclusively. It is critical to us personally as a family, and in our Tinkergarten classes, to embrace difference. We also hope kids develop an equally important sense that we all share the Earth, that our many celebrations have links back to common themes and a common humanity. For our family, celebrating Solstice illuminates those ties. Without feeling that connection to others, it is hard for kids to develop empathy. This idea may be abstract to the youngest children, but by making Solstice a part of our annual ritual, we can help them to deepen that empathy quite naturally as they grow.
We think all families should be learning outside. Try this activity with your child and begin to see the power in outdoor, play-based learning. Have fun!Email it to me