Celebrating Winter Solstice
December 19, 2012

As far as I’m concerned, winter solstice, the shortest day of the year, is always a cause for celebration. Besides being the first day of winter, every day after this one means just a little more daylight is coming our way. I’m not alone in this. People throughout time and around the world have marked the solstice with music, prayer, bonfires, and other ceremonies.

This year, the solstice occurs on December 21. Below are a few places you can celebrate with others in the region (call or check the websites for registration info). You can also use the solstice as an opportunity to create a new tradition with your children. If you can’t make any of these celebrations, hold your own. Make a birdfeeder, light candles or a bonfire, or take a night-time walk and look for creatures. It’s a nice way to take a breather from all the holiday craziness this season can bring.

Solstice Events
New England Wild Flower Society’s Garden in the Woods
in Framingham is hosting an event called Welcoming the Winter Solstice on December 20 from 3:30 to 5:30 p.m. A naturalist will discuss solstice history and lore, then lead a walk outdoors to enjoy the setting sun. Inside, a short ceremony will be held to welcome the solstice season followed by warm cider and cookies.

The “Welcome the Winter Solstice” at the Boston Nature Center (December 21, from 6 to 7:30 p.m.) gives you a chance to learn about the science behind the winter solstice. You’ll also make and decorate a paper luminary to take home, and help out the birds this season by making bird feeders (also to take home).

At Oak Knoll Wildlife Sanctuary in Attleboro during their “Welcome Winter Solsticeprogram (December 21, from 6:30 to 8 p.m.), you’ll find out what’s happening to the wildlife at Oak Knoll at this time of year. Learn what animals are hibernating, migrating, and who is active. After a hike around Lake Talaquega, everyone can warm up by the woodstove with hot cocoa.

The Solstice Sunset Celebration (December 21, from 4 to 6 p.m.) at Bartholomew’s Cobble in Sheffield (a Trustees of Reservations property) welcomes the longest night of the year with a campfire, solstice stories, Mayan prophecies, songs, marshmallows and hot chocolate, and star gazing. If there’s snow, come early with a sled or reserve snowshoes in advance (adult and children's sizes are available).

The Arcadia Wildlife Sanctuary Solstice Celebration in Easthampton, Connecticut is also December 21 from 6-8:30 p.m. At Arcadia, the tradition is to gather at sundown for music and community unity. There will also be a bonfire and hot cider. The sanctuary asks everyone to bring a nonperishable food item for the Food Bank of Western Massachusetts.

Does your family celebrate the winter solstice? Please tell us about it!

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