In the Northern Hemisphere, the first day of winter, called the winter solstice, occurs when the sun appears at its lowest point in the sky, making it the shortest day and longest night of the year.
This year, the winter solstice will occur at 5:30 a.m. Dec. 22.
Early winter solstice celebrations, which are believed to have started during Neolithic times about 10,000 B.C., were marked by people with trepidation. Ancient people knew if they had not adequately prepared for the event during the nine months before the solstice, they would very likely face starvation and not survive the winter.
Until they saw the days grow longer, people had no science to understand that the sun would once again shine brightly on their crops during the growing season. In temperate climates, the festival would be the last one celebrated before deep winter, a time of famine, set in.
Today, many people note the day with relief that the cycle of dark days begins to reverse and the sun begins to stay above the horizon, giving us a bit more daylight each day. Using science, today we also know that the event occurs because the Earth sits at a 23.5-degree tilt as it revolves around the sun each year. Those of us living in the Northern Hemisphere receive less direct sunlight during the winter.
I made a winter fairy queen to celebrate the winter solstice with directions I found at http://twigandtoadstool.blogspot.com/2010/11/queen-winter.html. You can go there to see step-by-step photos of the project. Younger children will need help from an adult to do this craft.
Supplies you will need:
Wooden doll pin and stand
1 white Chenille stem
Cotton or purchased doll hair
1 white silk flower
1 acorn top
1 white feather
Low temperature glue gun
Wrap the pipe cleaner around the body (twisting it once in the back to hold better) just below the head and trim to arm length.
Cut a 6-by-5-inch rectangle from white felt. Fold in half, matching the two shorter sides together.
Cut a small hole at the fold in the center to slip over the top of the clothespin. Cut two slits in the front and back from the bottom edge to about two inches from the fold. Make it wide enough to wrap around the pin and glue front to back.
Make two diagonal cuts from the bottom outside corners up to the top of the slits for sleeves. Glue the edges together.
Draw a circle five inches in circumference for a skirt and cut out. Cut a hole in the center and slip up over the clothespin.
Bunch the tulle around the pin under the skirt and glue in place.
Cut four petals from a silk flower and glue to the back of the clothespin.
Glue some white cotton to the top of the pin for hair and glue the acorn top on top.
Wrap a feather around the pin at the waist and secure in back with glue.
Place the pin inside a stand. Glue in place to hold.
If you have a craft idea or question, contact Kathy Antoniotti, Akron Beacon Journal, P.O. Box 640, Akron, OH 44309-0640; (330) 996-3565; or email firstname.lastname@example.org.