December 21st is the day of the Winter Solstice for those of us in the Northern Hemisphere. This means the shortest day of the year. In New England we have 8 hours of daylight and 12 hours of darkness. It is nice to take a moment on this day to pause and and celebrate the fact that more light will added to each day for the next 6 months.
The kids and I celebrate the animals in our yard on Winter Solstice. We start by reading one of my favorite stories, Night Tree by Eve Bunting. This book is a sweet tale about a family who hikes out into the woods each Christmas Eve to decorate a tree for the animals.
This book has inspired us to create our own Night Tree in our own back yard. We create ornaments with birdseed, gather old vegetables in the fridge and buy some extra sunflower seeds and chunks of suet. We then go the the pine tree at the back of our yard and decorate it for the birds, deer, chipmunks and other small animals.
As the sun sets on Winter Solstice we do not turn on any overhead lights and instead live by candle light and Christmas lights. As we sit in the soft glow of the house, we wonder about the animals that may be dining on their yearly winter feast. It is a simple and cozy way to mark the Winter Solstice and show kindness to the living things in our own backyard.
Our Favorite Winter Solstice Books
From the Publisher: “The beginning of winter is marked by the solstice, the shortest day of the year. Long ago, people grew afraid when each day had fewer hours of sunshine than the day before. Over time, they realized that one day each year the sun started moving toward them again. In lyrical prose and cozy illustrations, this book explains what the winter solstice is and how it has been observed by various cultures throughout history.”
This favorite book has become part of a Winter Solstice tradition in our family. You can read more about that HERE. From the Publisher: “By moonlight in the quiet forest, a young boy and his family decorate their favorite tree with popcorn, apples, tangerines, and sunflower-seed balls as a gift for the animals of the woods.”
This is our ABSOLUTE favorite winter book. In this beautiful story, a little girl finally gets her chance to go owling with her father. This book is about patience, adventure and quality time together. I would recommend this book for ages 3 and up.
From the publisher: “Distinguished author Jane Yolen has created a gentle, poetic story that lovingly depicts the special companionship of a young child and her father as well as humankind’s close relationship to the natural world. Wonderfully complemented by John Schoenherr’s soft, exquisite watercolor illustrations, this is a verbal and visual treasure, perfect for reading around and sharing at bedtime.”