Family Circle - Winter Solstice - all are welcome! - Mothering Forums

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#1 of 23 Old 12-02-2010, 04:34 PM - Thread Starter
 
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Welcome to the Family Circle thread! The December topic is Winter Solstice.

 

We can focus on different ways to celebrate, traditions, activities and rituals suited for family and kids. This is a great family holiday! There looks to be other Winter Solstice threads so I hope this one isn’t overkill.

 

Here is some Winter Solstice Info ~

 

The Winter Solstice is the shortest day (and longest night) of the year. It occurs when the Earth’s axis tilts the farthest from the sun. Solstice means “Sun Standing Still”.

 

2010 date: December 21st but close to midnight (UTC) so could also be considered December 22nd. It is also the first day of Capricorn.

 

In the Southern Hemisphere December 21 is Summer Solstice. Their Winter Solstice in mid June.

 

Who celebrates the Winter Solstice? Everyone! In the past people from Europe, Asia, North and South America had some kind of Winter Solstice celebration or observance.

 

What does it celebrate? The overall theme celebrates the return of the light, rebirth and hope. Often it celebrates a Mother Goddess giving birth to a Sun God.

 

Many of traditions we associate with Christmas are Winter Solstice traditions from Europe. Namely Germany, Scandinavia and England. The traditions include Santa Claus, reindeer, elves, hanging stockings for gifts, Yule log, decorating an evergreen tree, wreaths, mistletoe, holly, caroling, feasting and gift giving. Some people refer to Winter Solstice as Yule.

 

Discussion topics....

 

- Do you currently celebrate WS? What do you do?

- Do you celebrate alone, with family, a group or community?

- Have any stories, songs, poems, traditions to share?

- If you do not yet celebrate and want to – ask anything! No question too silly or boring or complex.

 

Solstice Blessings!

 

Rhianna

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#2 of 23 Old 12-03-2010, 12:36 PM - Thread Starter
 
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There are megalithic sites around the world and some of them appear to be built to align with the solstice and equinox sun.

 

In Ireland Newgrange is aligned so the rising WS sun shines into a chamber and through a long passageway. See a pic and read more:

http://www.mythicalireland.com/ancientsites/newgrange/illumination.html

 

In England Stonehenge aligns with the rising WS sun which shines through two stones and onto a center stone called the Great Trilithon. Here is a photo:

http://www.sott.net/image/image/5359/solstice_Stonehenge.jpg

 

Megalithic sites that are aligned with WS are also found in Scotland and Macedonia, and other places around the UK.

 

Books - If you are interested in reading up more on the Winter Solstice, Yule or the connection between WS/Yule and Christmas, here are some recommended books:

 

Yule: A celebration of warmth and light by Dorothy Morrison  (Holiday series from Llewellyn publishing) – covers historical info, calendar of winter holidays, cultural practices, crafts, gifts, recipes and decorating for Yule.

 

The Winter Solstice: sacred traditions of Christmas by John Matthews – don’t have this but looks good! On my wish list.

 

Celebrate the Solstice by Richard Heinburg – this book is more historical about both winter and summer solstice. Good info megalithic sites and cultures. Does not have crafts, recipes, family stuff. More educational.

 

Rhianna

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Hi! I am, eight years after my dd was born, finally planning to take our WS celebrations to a social level and we are going to do a potluck with another family and invite others who are (spiritually) interested, not just up for a christmas party in disguise!

 

i was raised with a secular, consumerist christmas by a lapsed catholic and a secular jewish mom. i am excited to start a beautiful, sacred celebration with my dd.

 

my plans are to make  recycled glass and tissue paper candle holders,  popcorn and cranberry garland for the critters,  see if we can have a chimenea in brooklyn! i am looking forward to see what other families are doing.

 

 


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Oh yes, a popcorn garland, I had forgotten I wanted to do that!

 

Other things I want to do this Solstice (a lot of these I gleaned from this forum):

-do candles only Solstice night

-make a Sun decoration for the tree with yellow and black paper, turn the yellow part around on Solstice

-make some sort of special meal (I have no idea what????)

 

Also wanted to share this pic I found on tumblr today :)

tumblr_lct8nesJfa1qzmopno1_500.jpg

 

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Hi Suzukibeane and Rockycrop!

 

Good to see you here! We are making a gingerbread house for the first time this year. I am very excited and hope it turns out… or at least stands long enough for a picture.

 

This year we are attending a Winter Solstice ritual that my group puts on. I am on the planning committee too. Usually 50 – 60 people attend – a lot of families. Normally we have the ritual on Solstice night but this year everyone complained they usually missed Solstice with their own families so we moved the event the weekend before.

 

I am working on Solstice this year but we will probably do something in the evening. Usually I take that day off but I couldn’t this year. Instead I have some time off the week before which I really need for last minute planning.

 

I LOVE that Reason for the Season pic! HAHAHA DH and I thought of making a similar yard sign that says: Mithras – he’s the reason for the season.

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Songs – There is a huge variety of holiday songs: birth of jesus, santa, winter, and just having a good time.

 

Here are a couple of Christmas songs that are older and have Yule/WS symbolism.

 

Deck the Halls: http://www.carols.org.uk/deck_the_halls.htm

 

O Tannenbaum/ Oh Christmas Tree: (Note there is some speculation that Tannenbaum does not actually translate to “Christmas” tree. But might mean “Fire” tree instead) - http://www.christmassongs.net/lyrics/o-christmas-tree

 

The Holly and Ivy: http://www.carols.org.uk/the_holly_and_the_ivy.htm

 

Wassail Song: http://www.carols.org.uk/the_wassail_song.htm

 

Wintery songs that are more secular:

Winter Wonderland

Jingle Bells

Sleigh Ride

These are a few of my favorite things

Let it snow

 

 

Solstice songs – here are some favorite songs I enjoy for WS. I have included the lyrics and youtube links with the original artist singing. When my friends and I sing these songs we don’t sound all awesome like the artist. We sound like regular folks chanting LOL

 

Lucina by Ruth Barrett

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=eJ9FE2bgrX8

 

Celebrate the birth of the Sun

Show the way O Lucina

Dance the round on Sabbat (Solstice) night

Blessed be the great Mother

 

The Sun is Born – Circle Round and Sing CD  (great pagan music for kids cd)

 

The Sun is born again today

We greet the Sun’s first morning rays

We sing and celebrate the light

The Sun’s born in the longest night

 

 

Light is Returning by Charley Murphy

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=ARA-wOaVW0s

 

Light is Returning
Even though this is the darkest hour
No one can hold back the dawn

Let's keep it burning
Let's keep the light of hope alive
Make safe our journey through the storm.

One Planet is turning
Circle on her path around the sun
Earth Mother is calling Her children home.

 

Enjoy!!!

 

Rhianna

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#7 of 23 Old 12-07-2010, 01:53 PM - Thread Starter
 
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Yule log – these are made using a small log from a tree branch. Typically oak. With holes drilled for 3 candle in it. Then surrounded by holly, greenery and ribbons. Makes a great centerpiece or altar decoration. Traditionally the Yule log would be burned in the fireplace to keep away bad spirits. This is a great project to get DH involved with or anyone who is handy with saws and drills.

 

This site has instructions and how to make it into a family tradition for Yule!

http://www.earthwitchery.com/yule-log.html

 

Yule logs can also be made of cake and chocolate (thank the Goddess!) and are often called Buche de Noel. Making this cake would be a great family project for older children with adult help. See here: http://www.mahalo.com/how-to-make-a-yule-log

 

Natural ornaments:

 

Ornaments can be made of sliced and dehydrated citrus fruits, cinnamon sticks, cloves and greenery, tied in ribbon. Pomanders are also nice to make – cloves pressed into oranges. They were popular in Victorian times: http://www.marthastewart.com/article/pomanders

 

As others have mentioned garlands of popcorn and cranberries too!

 

Cute decorations can be made using walnut shells, pinecones, juniper berries, small sticks etc… You can make your plant fairies or elves.

 

We also use salt dough to make ornaments with cookie cutter shapes: trees, holly leaves, hearts, stars, moons, suns, people, circles. Roll out a long rope and spiral too. When cooked, we paint them and seal them with glitter spray paint.

http://www.giftideacenter.com/Holiday/Christmas/dough_ornaments.php

 

Salt dough ornaments are easy for even the youngest of kids :-)

 

Rhianna

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We do a big Soup and Solstice party for friends and neighbors on solstice. No gifts, just an open house with soup, bread and warmth. We may sing silly songs about the sun and sunshine. I have sun cookies for the kids to decorate. If its not raining too hard, I may have a bonfire out back.

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Yule logs can also be made of cake and chocolate (thank the Goddess!)



OMGoddess! That is the best thing I've ever heard off! Thank you!


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We do a big Soup and Solstice party for friends and neighbors on solstice. No gifts, just an open house with soup, bread and warmth. We may sing silly songs about the sun and sunshine. I have sun cookies for the kids to decorate. If its not raining too hard, I may have a bonfire out back.


That sounds really NICE! How many friends and neighbors usually attend?

 

Rhianna
 

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Ritual Idea ~

 

In a ritual I led last year for our SpiralScout group we had a small altar, decorated with seasonal colours and Yule items.

 

We invoked the elements and directions by way of Faires/Elves/Elementals. Here are the words I used and the props the kids used:

 

EAST Prop: Bubbles

To the East we invite the Slyphs who ride on the windcurrents. We honor the howling winds and the birds who sing their winter song.  We celebrate new beginnings and imagination.  Welcome spirits of Air!

 

SOUTH Prop: Stick with ribbons of red and gold

To the South we invite the Firedrakes who dance on the blazing flame. We honor the warmth of the bonefire and the glow of the candle. We celebrate creativity and zest for life. Welcome spirits of Fire!

 

WEST  Prop: White confetti

To the West we invite the Water Sprites who glide on icy ponds. We honor the nourishing rains and purifying snow. We celebrate our heartfelt friendships. Welcome spirits of Water!

 

NORTH  Prop: drum or pine bough

To the North we invite the forest Elves who tend the frozen land. We honor the sleeping earth and our hibernating animal friends. We celebrate abundance and the circle of Family.  Welcome spirits of Earth!

 

 

We had 3 candles to represent the Goddess and God. The Goddess is the ever present Earth Mother who gives birth on WS. The God is represented as the GreenMan or perhaps Wise Shaman, ahd the Sun God newly born – we called him the Child of Promise. Candles can be white, green or red or combo. These 3 candles can be a part of the Yule log if you have one.

 

Here is the invocations, as you light each candle:

 

Goddess: Earth Mother

We invite the Goddess as Mother, the universal Mother who brings life to all things

 

God:Greenman as Shaman Father

We invite the God as Father, represented as Greenman of Winter, as the Shaman

 

God:SunGod – Child of Promise

We invite the God as infant, as the Child of Promise, the newly born Sun

 

We sung some WS songs and another mom said something about the Solstice. Then we devoked and opened the circle.

 

Feel free to use any of the above for your own Ritual with your kids.

 

Rhianna

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Hooray for Yule!

 

We have all the traditional trimmings: tree, log, wreath, mistletoe.

 

On Mother Night (night before Yule) we have a big stew, burn the Yule log, honor Thor & Freyr, and celebrate by blot & sumbel. 

Yule: High feast of Yule (some kind of pork is involved :lol), tell the story of Odin and the Wild Hunt, Baldr and mistletoe, & the Yule cat. 

 

Next year, when DS is old enough, we'll leave out whiskey or wine, and boot full of goodies. When he's much older, we'll start the Yule lads (although if we don't have any more kids, he'll have to be all the lads!)

 

 


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These Norse Yule traditions look awesome!! Can you share the Yule Cat story? My DS loves cats.

 

Rhianna

 

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Hooray for Yule!

 

We have all the traditional trimmings: tree, log, wreath, mistletoe.

 

On Mother Night (night before Yule) we have a big stew, burn the Yule log, honor Thor & Freyr, and celebrate by blot & sumbel. 

Yule: High feast of Yule (some kind of pork is involved :lol), tell the story of Odin and the Wild Hunt, Baldr and mistletoe, & the Yule cat. 

 

Next year, when DS is old enough, we'll leave out whiskey or wine, and boot full of goodies. When he's much older, we'll start the Yule lads (although if we don't have any more kids, he'll have to be all the lads!)

 

 



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These Norse Yule traditions look awesome!! Can you share the Yule Cat story? My DS loves cats.

 

Rhianna

 

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Originally Posted by Ambystoma View Post

Hooray for Yule!

 

We have all the traditional trimmings: tree, log, wreath, mistletoe.

 

On Mother Night (night before Yule) we have a big stew, burn the Yule log, honor Thor & Freyr, and celebrate by blot & sumbel. 

Yule: High feast of Yule (some kind of pork is involved :lol), tell the story of Odin and the Wild Hunt, Baldr and mistletoe, & the Yule cat. 

 

Next year, when DS is old enough, we'll leave out whiskey or wine, and boot full of goodies. When he's much older, we'll start the Yule lads (although if we don't have any more kids, he'll have to be all the lads!)

 

 


 


The Yule Cat isn't very friendly lol.gif. Anyone who doesn't get a new piece of clothing (in Scandinavia, because they were lazy and didn't help get all the wool ready before winter) will be eaten by the Yule Cat. Now it's a threat about any chore, really: "you'd better do your chores or the Yule Cat will eat you!" All in good fun, but it might freak out some kids. 


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Quote:
Originally Posted by rhianna813 View Post

These Norse Yule traditions look awesome!! Can you share the Yule Cat story? My DS loves cats.

 

Rhianna

 

Quote:
Originally Posted by Ambystoma View Post

Hooray for Yule!

 

We have all the traditional trimmings: tree, log, wreath, mistletoe.

 

On Mother Night (night before Yule) we have a big stew, burn the Yule log, honor Thor & Freyr, and celebrate by blot & sumbel. 

Yule: High feast of Yule (some kind of pork is involved :lol), tell the story of Odin and the Wild Hunt, Baldr and mistletoe, & the Yule cat. 

 

Next year, when DS is old enough, we'll leave out whiskey or wine, and boot full of goodies. When he's much older, we'll start the Yule lads (although if we don't have any more kids, he'll have to be all the lads!)

 

 


 


The Yule Cat isn't very friendly lol.gif. Anyone who doesn't get a new piece of clothing (in Scandinavia, because they were lazy and didn't help get all the wool ready before winter) will be eaten by the Yule Cat. Now it's a threat about any chore, really: "you'd better do your chores or the Yule Cat will eat you!" All in good fun, but it might freak out some kids. 


OMG hahahahaha I envision more of a saber tooth tiger with a metal helmet *growl*

 

Rhianna
 

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Here is a very sweet modern story about the Winter Solstice, called the Yule Faeries. It would make a great short play for kids to put on.

 

http://www.jamesclairlewis.com/pages/gremlin/solstice.html

 

Here is a Greek folktale (retold) called The 12 Months. We are adding this to our Winter Solstice public ritual. We especially like how it teaches to be humble, patient and to appreciate all the seasons - including winter.

 

http://www.h-net.org/~nilas/seasons/twelve_months.htm

 

Great bedtime or solstice fire stories :-)

 

Rhianna

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Our family will be participating in a drumming circle at a friend's ranch. The energy at these gatherings is absolutely amazing, and I'm so glad that my kids get to be a part of it. After the ceremony we will have a potluck. :)

 

Thanks for sharing the Yule Faeries story, Rhianna! I'm going to share it with my kids. They'll love it! :)

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Yay for Yule!!  I've never gotten to "celebrate" the Solstice yet as we have Hanukkah and Christmas for us as family, but I'm trying to do a little for everything and really just embrace the season as a whole.   I always feel stretched during December to try and do everything, but now I've realized it doesn't have to be BIG, just something that is meanful to us as a family.

 

So I have a theme in my mind- Sunshine & Snowflakes!  I'm helping to focus on creating for the holiday - we made a gingerbread village, and I dried some orange slices to hang on my wreath or on the tree. This week we'll decorate some paper snowflakes, stars and suns and some salt ornaments (little suns, stars, "gingerpeople", trees) to which I added various spices to have them smell just yummy.  

 

I think for the night - I'll make a stew or soup since its a Tuesday and that can easily be put in the crock pot to simmer away all day, and just light 3 candles in honor of the God, Goddess and new child before dinner.

 

I love the Yule log decoration (thank Goddess for power tools!) and the call to the quarters, very neat! oh and  the Buche de Noel from my high school french classes (big hit for kiddos!) its divine to say the least!!

 

Now I have more ideas for next year - this year I'll keep it simple and add to it in coming years. 

 


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Thank you all for such wonderful ideas. I've been exploring the idea of celebrating Solstice or Yule in lieu of or in addition to Christmas for some time. I think I have DH on board this year, and DS is really excited about it as well. When I explained why people put up lights this time of year he said, "Wow, I didn't know Christmas was so important." (Um, needless to say I guess, we haven't really gone into the Christian story of Christmas around here.)

 

I read DS the stories posted earlier in the thread, and he's been begging for more. A few Google searches have been pretty fruitless. Where can I find more stories? I'd also love to find a book about the season with most of the Christian and consumerist nonsense omitted. 


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Happy blessed Solstice friends! Hope you enjoy a day filled with love, light and family!!

 

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We do a big Soup and Solstice party for friends and neighbors on solstice. No gifts, just an open house with soup, bread and warmth. We may sing silly songs about the sun and sunshine. I have sun cookies for the kids to decorate. If its not raining too hard, I may have a bonfire out back.


That sounds really NICE! How many friends and neighbors usually attend?

 

Rhianna
 


That's the beauty of it.. it changes. Last year I had 50 plus.. this year closer to thirty tonight. I'm starting up the crockpots now. I can't wait. If the rain hold off I have a bonfire out back, too.

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I forgot to come back & post about our solstice!  We had fun & thank you Rhianna as I borrowed from your spiral scouts ritual a bit.  The whole family stood up and after I said the brief bit we (with arms raised) welcomed the direction/element/fairy/gnome/slyph etc.  After lighting the 3 candles, DH suddenly busted out a little "Happy Birthday" tune.  It was so fun and joyful.  I can't wait for my next holiday!!!

 

Are we doing a January thread, the pagan mamas are having a nice introspective chat about what it means to call yourself a specific label (pagan, witch, wiccan etc) and of course sparked me to this thread again love.gif


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Hey - thanks for sharing this! My holiday season was busy busy busy. The public Yule ritual went very well and I ended up leading most of it. DS had a good time and I was happy to see some of his scout friends there too.

 

I am late in starting a January post - work has been so busy that I have not had much time online :-(. The thread will focus on Imbolc which is celebrated February 2nd. There is a lot to share about this holiday and a LOT of fun family activities, lore and ritual ideas.

 

Rhianna

 

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Originally Posted by _ktg_ View Post

I forgot to come back & post about our solstice!  We had fun & thank you Rhianna as I borrowed from your spiral scouts ritual a bit.  The whole family stood up and after I said the brief bit we (with arms raised) welcomed the direction/element/fairy/gnome/slyph etc.  After lighting the 3 candles, DH suddenly busted out a little "Happy Birthday" tune.  It was so fun and joyful.  I can't wait for my next holiday!!!

 

Are we doing a January thread, the pagan mamas are having a nice introspective chat about what it means to call yourself a specific label (pagan, witch, wiccan etc) and of course sparked me to this thread again love.gif



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