A Long Winter's Night

Along with the coming holidays, winter solstice is just around the corner, on December 21 at 11:49pm EST.  The solstice varies yearly sometime between the 20th and 23rd of December, most often falling on the 21st or 22nd. The last solstice to occur on the 23rd was in 1903 and will not happen again until 2303. A  December 20th solstice is extremely rare and will occur again in 2080. 

Solstices are opposite on either side of the equator, so the winter solstice in the northern hemisphere is the summer solstice in the southern hemisphere and vice versa.  Christmastime in Melbourne, Australia may see temperatures close to 100 degrees for their summer solstice. The winter solstice is the shortest day of the year in terms of the fewest hours of sunlight. It’s when the North Pole is tipped at it’s farthest angle from the sun. On the solstice, the night is almost a full 12 hours and all nights between the autumn equinox and leading up to the solstice are ideal for stargazing because of their lengthening duration. It is also the time when the earth is turned away from the Milky Way which means less dust and clearer visibility.

This time of year, Mars and Saturn are readily visible and will be getting steadily brighter as they get closer in the coming months.  Other winter constellations to look for are Orion, Pegasus and Taurus in the eastern sky. Star themed décor is perfect for holiday crafting so make your own galaxy using disposable foil pans with the Shining Stars craft from Family Fun magazine Dec/Jan 2015.  Cut out star shapes and use push pins to create a pattern.  Follow this link for many more simple ideas at Creative Holiday Crafts for Kids .

Solstice celebrations are all about nature and rebirth so let’s delve into some nature crafts.  Tis the season also to watch out for wildlife as food sources may be scarce.  When it comes to feeding birds, we’re all familiar with dipping pine cones in peanut butter to create simple hanging feeders, but if you have a peanut allergy in your home, try one of these peanut free ideas.    

A wonderful new book you may want to explore is The New Christmas Tree by Carrie Brown.  It features two dozen themed trees one of which is the Woodland Tree on page 108.  Pinecones and cardstock leaves are coated with wheat paste and dipped in birdseed to create lovely and practical ornaments.  Allow to dry overnight or for several hours.  Use indoors as seasonal décor or outside as treats for your feathered friends.  Beautifully illustrated, you’ll find many of these crafts surprisingly easy and adaptable for other occasions and seasons throughout the year.

Wheat Paste Recipe

¼ c wheat flour, 1 Tbsp sugar, 1¼ c water

Place wheat flour in small bowl and add ¼ cup water, stir vigorously to make a smooth paste. Bring 1 cup water to a boil in saucepan over medium heat. Add cold paste mixture slowly and return to a boil, stirring constantly with wooden spoon to prevent lumps until the paste thickens. Remove from heat and stir in sugar. Cool and use immediately or store covered in the refrigerator for up to 4 days.

Other recipes for edible glue and birds treats can be found at Red House Garden or at brighthaven days.

Another simple idea for a natural garland outdoors is popcorn.  Be sure to let the popcorn go stale before stringing as otherwise it will crumble.  Use large embroidery needles and exercise caution with younger crafters.

The WPPL family wishes you and you’re a wonderful holiday season. 

 

 

If you happen upon a few minutes of quiet time, check out these titles.

 

For kids...

The Winter Solstice Ellen Jackson J 394.261 J12W

The Shortest Day: Celebrating the Winter Solstice Pfeffer, Wendy J 394.261 P524S

Winter is Coming JP Johnston, Tony

Winter According to Humphrey JF Birney, Betty G.

 

For adults...

The New Christmas Tree  Carrie Brown  745.59412 B877N 2015

The Christmas Almanac edited by Natasha Tabori Fried and Lena Tabori  394.2663 C555fr

Winter Solstice F Pilcher, Rosamunde

 

For teens...

Let It Snow YA Let (John Green, Maureen Johnson, Lauren Myracle)

My True Love Gave to Me YA, My (Perkins, Stephanie)

The Dead of Winter YA Priestly, Chris