Spirit Message of the Day for KIDS! – Ideas to Celebrate Winter Solstice 2011

What the Season Means to You
“What does the Solstice means to you and your family? Do you focus on the solar aspect of Yule, or do you see it as a transformation of the Goddess? Perhaps your family has a diverse cultural blend, and you celebrate a combination of Yule, Christmas, Hannukah, and other holidays? Do you mark the week of Saturnalia? Figure out how exactly this holiday is important to you. How do you want to celebrate? Are you thinking of holding a big ritual, complete with potluck supper, for all your friends? Or are you planning to keep things low-key, with just you and your spouse and kids? Maybe this will be the year you invite the grandparents over to welcome the sun back. Or perhaps you’ll have a small solstice celebration for yourself, and then observe Christmas with the more traditional members of your family.

Regardless of how you celebrate, this is a time of year when family is important. If you haven’t taken a moment yet to explain to your children why you value the winter solstice, do so. Explain in terms they can understand, depending on their ages. A younger child may simply know that now the days will start getting longer, but a teen may be more interested in the deity connections related to the event itself. Either way, make sure your kids understand WHY you’re celebrating — otherwise, it’s just another day with no meaning.

Do Something Good For Someone Else

In a season inundated with so much mass marketing and merchandise, kids in particular need a little reminder that it’s just as important to give as it is to get. You can teach your children about the value of kindness towards others in a small way, or a big one. Try one or more of these as a way of setting examples for the season:

  • Make up inexpensive gift bags of small items for neighbors or residents of a local senior center. Buy paper sacks in bulk, have the kids decorate the outside. Fill with travel-sized items like lotion, toothpaste, lip balm, Kleenex, pencils & notepads, puzzle books, etc. Include a hand-made ornament if you’re feeling crafty. Take the kids with you when you drop off your goodie bags.
  • Adopt a needy family. Get a name from either a social services agency, a mall Christmas tree, or even a school. Put together a holiday dinner for them, as well as gift items. Find out what they need — gift cards for a local gas station might be perfect, or even a shopping spree at a grocery store. Get the names and sizes for the kids in the family, and do some shopping — buy items in multiple colors or styles if you can manage it.
  • Donate to a local toy drive. Have your kids select a toy or two to purchase and donate — be sure to take the children with you to drop of the toys, and explain to them why you’re doing it.
  • Got a neighbor who’s elderly or disabled? Surprise them by shoveling snow for them, or raking leaves up out of their yard. Offer to help them hang up their holiday lights, so they’re not injured climbing a ladder.
  • Bake cookies or bread for a teacher, friend, or neighbor, just for fun. Drop them off with a note telling them how much you appreciate the recipient.

Create Something New
The winter holidays are a great time to get in touch with your creative side, because (a) we’re often cooped up in the house, and (b) it’s a chance to give gifts to people. Why not raid those big boxes of fabric and craft supplies in the basement, and put together something fun as a holiday decoration?

  • Felt: Felt is one of the most versatile and easy-to-use craft materials ever made. You can make tree ornaments, stockings or a tree skirt for your home. Or, stitch pieces together into squares, stuff with polyfiber, and add herbs for an instant sachet.
  • Chenille stems: Also called pipe cleaners, these easily bendable twigs are loads of fun. Shape them into anything you like (such as the pentacle in the photo) and hang them around your house for the holidays. Make a set, and give them as gifts.
  • Salt dough: Make some salt dough ornaments, bake them, and paint. You can hang them yourself, or give as gifts to others.
  • Make holiday cards: Instead of spending money on generic holiday cards this year, make your own. Get out some card stock, stamps, finger paint, yarn, and anything you can think of. Have the kids decorate the cards, and all you’ll have to do is address the envelopes and place a note inside.
  • Outdoorsy stuff: Collect twigs, acorns, small pine cones and pretty leaves. Use them to decorate a photo frame, make a collage, or an altar centerpiece. Cover a pinecone with peanut butter and bird seed, then hang outside for an easy birdfeeder, or turn it into an ornament.

Create Your Own Yule Log
A Yule log is a great family craft, because first of all, it gives you an excuse to go out walking in the woods. Take some time to go wandering, and see what you can collect while you’re outside. Make an adventure of it, if you like, and pack a lunch or a thermos of hot chocolate. When you’ve found nifty stuff to put on your Yule log, follow the instructions below to make one:

Once you’ve made your Yule log, you can use it as an altar centerpiece, or at the heart of a family Yule Log Ceremony. Be sure to save a bit of your Yule Log at the end of your ceremony, so you can burn it with next year’s Yule Log!

A Time-Honored Tradition
As the Wheel of the Year turns once more, the days get shorter, the skies become gray, and it seems as though the sun is dying. In this time of darkness, we pause on the Solstice (usually around December 21st, although not always on the same date) and realize that something wonderful is happening. On Yule, the sun stops its decline into the south. For a few days, it seems as though it’s rising in exactly the same place… and then the amazing, the wonderful, the miraculous happens. The light begins to return.

The sun begins its journey back to the north, and once again we are reminded that we have something worth celebrating. In families of all different spiritual paths, the return of the light is celebrated, with Menorahs, Kwanzaa candles, bonfires, and brightly lit Christmas trees. On Yule, many Pagan and Wiccan families celebrate the return of the sun by adding light into their homes. One of our family’s favorite traditions – and one that children can do easily – is to make a Yule log for a family-sized celebration.

A holiday celebration that began in Norway, on the night of the winter solstice it was common to hoist a giant log onto the hearth to celebrate the return of the sun each year. The Norsemen believed that the sun was a giant wheel of fire which rolled away from the earth, and then began rolling back again on the winter solstice.

As Christianity spread through Europe, the tradition became part of Christmas Eve festivities. The father or master of the house would sprinkle the log with libations of mead, oil or salt. Once the log was burned in the hearth, the ashes were scattered about the house to protect the family within from hostile spirits.

Hold a Family Celebration
A lot of times we get so caught up in the hullaballoo of the holidays, that before we know it, Yule is here and we have no idea what to do. It’s December 21, and all you know is that the sun came up. Plan ahead a little — and get the kids involved — and figure out what sort of rituals you’d like to do to celebrate this year. Not sure what to try? Here is one option:

Not sure yet which deities — if any — you’d like to honor? There’s a huge selection to choose from. If your tradition doesn’t have a specific god or goddess to celebrate at the winter solstice, try this list to see who “speaks” to you:

Finally, if you’re more into the holly-jolly aspect of the season, why not start something new for your family, and go out Wassailing? It’s a lot of fun, a good way to get kids and adults out together, and when you’re all done, you can snuggle up in front of a fire.

Hold a Feast
Like an Pagan or Wiccan sabbat, Yule is as good a time as any to hold a big feast. Invite friends over, either for a potluck style dinner or a big spread you make yourself. There’s nothing better than getting together with the people you love on a chilly winter night. Make sure you provide lots of things for the kids to keep busy — coloring pages, ornament decorating, etc. Keep hands and hearts warm and toasty with some of these simple recipes:

Start a Story-telling Tradition
Sometimes kids — and adults too — need to be reminded that not too long ago, we found our entertainment from storytelling, rather than television. Start a family tradition on these cold winter nights, of story-telling. You can do a couple of different things:

  • Have a round-robin story-telling session. One person makes up the beginning of the story, another continues, and so on. If your children are in elementary school or older, this can be really entertaining!
  • Read a book aloud to the family. If the kids are beginning readers, you may want to have them “help” you with certain words, or have them provide sound effects (“Okay, guys, every time I say the word winter, you shake these bells!”).
  • Learn some traditional folk tales, and share them with your family. If someone plays an instrument, have them join in with flute, guitar, or other music in the background.”

Excerpts from paganwiccan.about.com by Patti Wigington

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Published in: on December 8, 2011 at 5:44 am  Comments (4)  

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