Celebrating Winter Solstice

19 12 2013

IMG_7108I welcome every season that the Pacific Northwest delivers. Sometimes they announce their presence with weather that epitomizes that season, and sometimes they trickle in and out with steady, uneventful rain. At this time of year when snow concedes to rain and I send disappointed children to school, I seek reasons to celebrate and affairs to anticipate. For example, we acknowledge the First Day of Winter, or Winter Solstice. In the Northern Hemisphere, it’s also called the Southern Solstice. Many cultures separate their First Day of Winter from their Winter Solstice, but the Western Culture combines them. Winter Solstice occurs when the sun is at its southernmost position in the sky, at its lowest altitude above the horizon. This marks the shortest day and longest night of the year. Around here, that means a gloomy, soggy day followed by about a hundred more.

The First Day of Winter often coincides with a school day, so I plan food and activities that fit a year’s particular schedule. This year, Winter Solstice is Saturday, December 21. Children don’t require fanfare to make an ordinary day special. They enjoy a fun treat or activity that accompanies the occasion. I serve food that resembles snow or warms the insides. It might be waffles sprinkled with confectioner’s sugar and hot cocoa for breakfast, yogurt-covered pretzels alongside lunch, steaming soup or melty sandwiches for dinner, and powdered donuts or snowflake cookies for dessert. Activities include watching winter-themed movies by candlelight, cutting snowflakes out of paper, or creating birdfeeders with pinecones. For weekend Winter Solstices in the Pacific Northwest, pack meals and drinks for a day trip to the snowy Pacific Coast Range or Cascade Mountain Range. Whatever suits you, discover simple ways to turn ordinary days into memories and traditions.

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