The word solstice combines
the Latin word sol (sun) and sistere (to stand still). The actual
winter solstice takes place when the sun reaches its lowest point
on the horizon.
For more ideas on how to celebrate the winter solstice, visit
In the midst of all of the
holiday hoopla, most people don't even notice the winter solstice.
This night, the longest and darkest of the year, is historically a
time for reflection on the year gone by and anticipation of the
brighter days ahead. The winter solstice is a great opportunity to
help children connect to the changes taking place around them in
the natural world.
This year the winter solstice
will take place on Dec. 22, marking the official start of
If you are thinking of
observing the winter solstice this year, use these ideas as
inspiration to create traditions and rituals that suit your
Light a yule
log. Light plays an important role in any solstice
celebration. Turn off the lights and burn a yule log in the
fireplace. As an alternative, gather around a "yule candle." Use
this time to talk about your plans for the coming year.
pomander. Pay homage to the power of sun and light
with this simple seasonal craft based around a fragrant citrus
fruit. Gather together an orange and a bowl of cloves. Push the
stem of the cloves into the skin of the fruit. Hang your pomander
from a ribbon and enjoy the natural seasonal scent.
outdoors. On Dec. 17, from 6-9 p.m., the North Park
Nature Center will host its annual Winter Solstice Festival.
Highlights include roasted chestnuts, crafts and a trail walk along
a path lit with luminaries. Visit chicagoparkdsitrict.com for
Study the science
behind the solstice. If the sun is shining on Dec.
22, you can conduct an informal science experiment. Around noon,
stand in a sunny spot and measure your shadow. Record this
information and repeat the measurement in the same spot around
March 21, June 21 and Sept. 21 and note the differences. With a
little advance planning, kids could also chart the time of sunrises
and sunsets for the month leading up to the winter solstice to
observe the changes over time.
Caitlin Murray Giles is a full-time mother of three and part-time freelance writer living in Wicker Park.
See more of Caitlin's stories here.
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