The winter solstice is fascinating not only from an astronomical standpoint, but also because of it’s significance to all human beings whom we share this earth with. On December 21st, those of us who live in the northern hemisphere will mark the day that dark triumphs over light. This day signifies a turning point towards brighter days. The inherently private nature of the winter months encourages a level of introversion, patience, and silence. It asks us to slow down, rest, and enjoy the comfort of our homes. This year in particular, as we face the realization that the loud parties and festive celebrations will have to be put on hold, we look to other ways in which to generate warmth, spirit, and light. Create something special this week to give honor to this important day, offer gratitude, and dream of a brighter tomorrow. Below are some quick and easy projects to get you started.
Solstice Lanterns: Paint on a medium to heavy weight paper using watercolor paints. This can be a winter scene or simply a wash of colors. Once dry, rub them with enough oil (any kind will do) until it soaks through the paper and allow to dry again. Roll the painting into a cylinder shape and either glue or tape the edges together. Place tea lights inside the lantern to illuminate the dark.
Smudge Sticks: Smudging is a great way to cleanse a space and welcome in positive energy while filling your home with lovely aromas. Seasonal greens such as pine, fir, juniper, cedar work well for this along with other scents you find appealing, such as a rosemary sprig, cinnamon sticks and mulled spices. Put several branches, between six and ten inches in length together, and wind string tightly around the stems of the bundle. Depending on how fresh your branches are – and how much sap is in them – it can take a few weeks to dry them out. Once they’re done, burn them in a solstice celebration.
Orange Bird Feeders: Cut an orange in half and scoop out the fruit. Pierce 4 small holes on opposite sides and thread with twine, creating an “X”. Gather the ends together for form a knot and fill with birdseed. Place somewhere you can easily view the birds from a window.
Salt Dough Ornaments: Combine 4 cups of flour, 1 cup of salt, and 1 ½ cups of warm water and knead until incorporated. Roll and cut into desired shapes making sure to remember a hole for a string to hang. Bake at 200 degrees for 2 hours or allow them to air dry. Once they are dry, paint your ornaments and seal the finished design with Mod Podge to preserve them.
Frozen Ice Orbs: Fill balloons with water dyed with food coloring and place in a bowl. Coat the balloons with oil so they don’t freeze together. Set them outside in below-freezing temps and wait until then are frozen solid. Peel away the balloons using scissors or a knife and enjoy the magical feel of your colorful ice orbs.
*Read The Shortest Day: Celebrating the Winter Solstice by Wendy Pfeffer. This beautifully written and illustrated book explains what the winter solstice is and how it has been observed by various cultures throughout history. Simple science activities, ideas for celebrating the day, and a further-reading list are included.