December 22, 2010

Solstice

Well, Solstice turned out lovely.  I'm not sure if I convinced Joe that it's more than just a pagan holiday or not, but we had fun!

Hannah Jane spent the day working on a Solstice lap book where she measured out the angle of the earth's tilt, sketched out multiple globes in relation to the sun to show why our winter solstice is Australia's summer solstice.  We learned that even though it's cold out, earth is closer to the sun on winter solstice than summer solstice.

We studied different Solstice celebrations and customs from around the world and throughout history.  Our favorite was from middle age Sweden, where it appears that all year round they told their kids that if they didn't do their chores, the she-demon, Lucia would come grab them in the night.  So on the longest night of the year they allowed their kids to stay up and keep candle light vigils so Lucia wouldn't grab them!  Talk about manipulating your kids into cleaning their room!  Wow!  But in modern times, somehow they turned the she-demon into a saint (I haven't figured out that transition quite yet) and now the celebrate St. Lucy day with processions of children dressed in white led by one blond girl with candles on her head (yes, I read that the lead girl has to be blond).  Interesting...

We learned about thermal inertia, which I had never heard of before, but that answered my biggest solstice question.  Why in the world is the turning point of the seasons, what was once called mid-winter's night, now officially the "first day of winter?  Yeah, it's because of thermal inertia.  Even though the days get longer from here on out, and it got cold long ago, the oceans take longer to heat up and cool down than the air, and that lag time is why we only today declare it winter. We are politely allowing the oceans to play catch up before we declare winter.   Or something along those lines.  I'm still not positive I completely understand.

Moving on...We watched this video from last year's Paul Winter Solstice concert, which is totally awesome.  But I wasn't quite sure that our guests would all want their kids to watch the African dance lady undulate in her bra (I'm fine with explaining cultural differences in modesty and movement and calling it a cultural experience, but I'm not so sure everyone is up for that kind of experience for their little ones) so I let the kids modify their favorite element from the video and make their own performance art piece about solstice.  All of our guests cracked up the whole time, but the kids held it together with completely straight faces.  Impressive.  This is a video I took of their dress rehearsal.


We made a cake to welcome back the sun.

Hannah Jane iced.

The boys sprinkled.

We put our ice lanterns on the steps and awaited our friends' arrival.  It was a fabulous evening even with the men cracking jokes about the non-occasion that their wives were forcing them to celebrate in the name of education.  The kids played while the parents talked educational philosophies and home schooling trends.  Soon it was time for the lantern walk, which ended up being a kind of fun extended play time in the barn in the dark.  Then we came back and shared our artwork.  My kids did the above performance and our guests all shared a painting or drawing that they made.  Someone in Providence was shooting off major fireworks, so the kids brought up our case of sparklers in the laundry room and we decided to bid farewell to our guests with a little sparkler time as they made their exit.

When it was all said and done, this day that we have never paid much mind too was one that the kids whispered to each other about as they got their jammies on.  "I'm sad solstice is over."  "Me too.  Solstice is the funnest thang."  "I wish every day was solstice."  They're already making plans for next year's show!

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