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A Holiday Observance for Everyone

NewgrangeThe big day ‘o gifts is fast approaching and every child I know is bouncing off the walls!  (Of course in kid-world, time is dragging painfully slow!) If you are interested in creating a more sustainable future consider an annual observance of the winter solstice. This is a great opportunity to connect our children to the endless rhythms of nature.

For most of us, the winter solstice will be Dec. 22nd. There are so many ways to approach this pivotal moment in earth’s year: astronomically, historically, agriculturally, religiously/comparative religiously, anthropologically. For example, hundreds of years before Stonehenge, there was Newgrange — a massive structure in Ireland that captures the beam of the rising sun on the winter solstice. And this year, for the first time, you can view this event live via webcast!

Some children may find the astronomy interesting and can learn about cool, new concepts like the Analemma. (Haven’t you ever wondered what that long, figure eight on the globe was for?)

You can link the solstice to ancient cultures and talk about how the cold and dark make us feel and why people might want to celebrate the light returning. You can tie it to movies they may have seen like, Cast Away, Raiders of the Lost Ark, National Treasure and 2001: A Space Odyssey.

For the kid who just can’t hold their horses for Christmas, try enlisting their creativity to design their own sunrise solstice observance. What foods should we eat that day? What should we do to feel warm and cozy on the shortest day of the year? Are their certain stories we should read aloud? Perhaps we should dress in yellow to encourage the days to lengthen again! For the more mathmatically inclined, an engineering project to create their own Stonehenge could easily eat up an entire pre-Christmas afternoon!

Christmas and the winter solstice are forever linked and at this time of year when we so readily say, “Peace on earth, goodwill toward men,” it is comforting to know that there is something that connects humanity over time and distance. Regardless of your religious observances this time of year, you can demonstrate the earth’s unending cycles and our intimate connection to them.

Photo used by permission: Annaliese Moyer www.annaliesemoyer.com

[This post was written by Lee Welles.]


  1. What a FANTASTIC idea… I SO have to promote this… and unfortunately, do the full celebration perhaps a few days late… :( Great great point, though ~ yay for winter solstice! Connecting with the Earth is the best way to start being green. :)

  2. This is so great! I typically don’t celebrate christmas, being an Atheist. But now that I have a 3 month old, I wanted to find a way for us to celebrate the holiday season as a family. I don’t want her to be the weird kid that doesn’t celebrate the holidays :) So this is really helpful information for me :) Thanks!


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