Celebrate the Rhythms of the Year Winter Solstice

The winter solstice is the meeting point ofopposites: night and day, darkness and light, cold and warmth. Find activities to explore these contrasts and to reconnect with an earlier time when humans eagerly anticipated and celebrated the slow return of the sun at the darkest and coldest moment of the year.

• Design different symbols of the sun and color them. Make a mobile from the designs.

• Rewrite the lyrics of familiar songs or poems to fit the themes of the solstice, including the return of light, the retreat of night, or an awareness of our humbling place in nature.

• If you live in an area with snow in the winter, make a large sun sculpture out of the snow in your yard. Use food coloring to decorate the sculpture with bright colors.

• Explain the concept of seasons by putting one toothpick in the top of an orange (Earth) and another in the bottom. In a dark room, shine a flashlight (the Sun) directly at the middle of the orange. Tilt the North Pole toothpick slightly toward the light and note that most of the light shines on the top of the orange/Earth during the Northern Hemisphere summer. Keeping the poles at the same angle, orbit your orange/Earth to the other side of the flashlight and turn the light to continue facing the orange. The North Pole will now be tilted slightly away from the light—the position of the Earth at the time of the Northern Hemisphere's winter solstice when it receives less sunlight than the Southern Hemisphere. Note that people near the Equator really don't have true seasons because the amount of light and temperature is usually about the same year-round.

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