It being December, lots of schools are talking about winter holidays with students. I’m pretty open about being pagan and raising my kids pagan, and live in a decently diverse district, with generally really accepting teachers. So each year up to this point I’ve emailed their teachers with some info about Winter Solstice so that they can include it in their “Winter Holiday Unit” and my kids can feel included. I thought it may be useful to share my email so that others can just steal it, modify it to fit their situation, and send it to their kids’ teachers. Obviously make your own decision as to whether this is safe for family and/or wanted by your kids. But, feel free to steal if you want:
“Hi __teacher name___,
I know we’re getting into the holiday season, and oftentimes that means talking about the ways that different people celebrate during this season. We are pagan, and celebrate the Winter Solstice here at home, and this is a holiday that is often left out of the big overview units on Winter Holidays. So, I just wanted to give you some info in case you’re planning a unit on the many winter holidays, so you could include the one that my kiddos know in that overview.
So, the basics of winter solstice across neopagan religions is that the days are growing shorter as the nights are growing longer. On the day of the solstice we celebrate the return of the light, since from that point on the days will be getting longer again.
Some general points we talk about regarding the winter solstice:
- Solstice is generally celebrated on Dec 21, but some people adjust their celebration to happen during the astronomical solstice.
- the nights are getting longer and the days are getting shorter.
- We talk a bit about the basic science behind the tilt of the earth changing the length of the day and night throughout the year.
- It’s a good time to reflect on the good things that happened during the year.
- It’s a good time to think about the not good things that we don’t want to bring into next year.
- On solstice day we celebrate the return of the light, since from this point on the days will be getting longer again.
- The Gods/Goddesses that are honored are most often solar deities, such as Helios (Greek sun god), Eos (Greek dawn goddess), Sunna (Norse sun god), Ushas (Vedic dawn goddess)
Some things we do to celebrate:
- on the night of the solstice there are candles hidden all over the house. We go on a candle hunt where the kids find the unlit candles and we light them. This symbolizes finding the light (the hope, happiness, family, good things, etc) in the dark. The warmth of the light will carry us through the dark season.
- We have a dinner by candle light on solstice night to acknowledge how the warmth of family/fellowship contributes to making it through the dark season.
- Adults and older children often hold a vigil overnight, where we make sure the hearth fire (either as a candle or in a fireplace) keeps burning all night long until the sun comes up on solstice morning. It is a time for reflection, and honoring the gods and spirits that are important to us and to the season.
This is the liturgy we use through the month of December. (Page 58 is where the solstice night and morning stuff begins) You can find it here: https://www.amazon.com/dp/1731335830/ref=cm_sw_r_cp_api_i_1zzaCb14DGBK1
Another book we read that is a really relatable kids book is “Frederick” by Leo Lionni (https://www.amazon.com/dp/0394810406/ref=cm_sw_r_cp_api_i_HyzaCbKBS0J9N)
Hope this helps, and if you’ve got any other questions, or if there’s anything else I can do to help, just let me know :)”
And for my fellow parents, if I can help in any way regarding this kind of conversation, let me know!
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