Winter Solstice was never a holiday celebrated by my parents so it has left this holiday fresh to form our own family traditions. Unencumbered by any expectations or traditions we can make this celestial holiday our own!
Because this week is generally bitterly cold in my part of the world (for example, this morning our temperature was -4 F and -8 with windchill), I've always found it hard to get the kids outside to stand around a fire :) However, if you would like to hold a Fire Vigil for Winter Solstice check out this article.
Some of our ideas on celebrating the shortest day of the year with the longest night, follows:
* We always stock up on our bird seed and make sure all our bird feeders are primed with goodies as this is a tough time for birds. There are many DIY craft feeders you can do with kids and for older kids, plans to build bird houses.
* Try a Buche de Noel cake, a French name for a cake made to look like a log. A Buche de Noel is especially fun to make for those who like to bake and craft as you can make meringue toadstools and other confectionery delights inspired by the forest.
* This year we are using a log (from deadfall) and drilling holes to make it serve as a candleholder for the main dining room table. Candles, fires, fireplaces, bonfires and any use of the fire element always gives a nod to the traditional Pagan Solstice celebration where we wait for the Sun to reappear and affirm the turning of the Year.
* Silence phones, tablets, television and radio from dusk onward. You can also extend it for the entire day if you can convince the rest of your family! This lends the mood to mindfulness and connection.
* Caroling, sharing songs, playing instruments, or telling stories, are all fun ways to pass the evening. Ask each person to share a ghost story around the fire!
* Concentrate your meals on a method that uses "fire" - such as your grill, charcoal, or a cast iron Dutch oven. This year we are doing a peach cobbler cooked in our Dutch Oven topped with ice cream.
* Hospitality with family and friends is a theme for these big celebrations! Who are you inviting over? How are you going to feed them? This year we are serving an open buffet from lunch onwards of specialty chips, cold deli meats, gourmet cheeses, dips, and crackers, along with homemade bread and sweet goodies.
* Breads always seem to be a part of all our holidays. It takes time to make bread from scratch and nothing says hearth then homemade bread. Look up winter solstice bread recipes and find some traditional holiday breads to try out!
* For kids, nature walks, building gingerbread houses, making cookies, cutting out snowflakes from paper, or doing crafts to decorate house or tree, are all great ways to involve them into the festivities.
What will you be doing Tuesday?