Since starting a family we have been working towards creating our own family traditions. We have formed many weekly and daily rituals that we hope will instill a sense of belonging in our children but we have struggled when it comes to meaningful annual holiday traditions.
Christmas has been particularly problematic. Little of the holiday resonates with us or our values. I realise most people love christmas but we have found the commercialism and over indulgence don't appeal to us. My husband and I are both former Christians so the holiday has too many ties to religion for our liking. Also, Christmas day is so chock-a-block with extended family gatherings and there is scarce opportunity for us to form our own traditions.
Enter the Summer Solstice! The Summer Solstice is a special time of year when we can appreciate nature and spend some quality time together before the hoopla of Christmas begins. It is also is a great opportunity for learning about the science of the solstice as well as the history behind our cultures most beloved holiday. On 21st of December, the Southern hemisphere is tilted towards the sun- making it the longest day of the year for us and the longest and darkest night of the year for those people living in the Northern hemisphere. In the Northern hemisphere the winter solstice has been celebrated in December by many different cultures for thousands of years. Feasting, gift-giving, decorating with lights, trees and other greenery all have pagan origins. The early Christian leaders added a Christian meaning to these festivals and over the years carols, Christmas cards, Santa, The North Pole and flying deer have all made their way into the mix as well. There is a rich history there, waiting to be explored.
In the lead up to Christmas this year we decided to mark the longest day of the year with some small celebrations of our own. We have started with some simple activities that we would like to become traditions in our family. The consensus was that we needed o plant something and to spend some time outdoors enjoying the sun. Luckily it was our Landcare day so that killed two birds with one stone. We also did some seed collecting which I thought was fitting for the occasion.
Before our special solstice dinner, Priya and I decided to make use of seasonal flowers for decoration. 'Christmas Bush' flowers at this time of year, hence the name. We threaded the beautiful pinkish red flowers into a wreath and some woven cane balls. This activity was fairly age appropriate for a young child.
Later we enjoyed a lovely candle lit meal, made by Daddy.
Our goal is to make this an occasion that we can all look forward to. In the years to come, our solstice tradition may develop and we won't limit ourselves to what we have done this year. Some ideas that I have come across include:
- Watching the sun rise or set
- Listening to a sun filled play list which includes 'Here Comes the Sun' by The Beatles or some Polyphonic Spree.
- Enjoying the sun at the beach
- Making ice blocks
- Doing sun crafts
- Making a sun dial
- Cooking with the sun
- Doing art with the sun
- Making daisy chains or crowns
- Having a bon fire
- Eating seasonal and local fruit and vegetables.
Do you celebrate the Summer Solstice? I'd love to hear about your own traditions.