This time of year is busy for all, but especially for Pagans – with extended family celebrations, many rituals to attend or perform, and still recovering from the Samhain fun, each year I feel like I’m being driven a little closer to the edge! But there are lots of fun family traditions that can be celebrated without a lot of time or extended prep, and since you might be a little cheerier with all the time you’re saving, the kids will appreciate them even more!
- Create A Solstice AltarEither outside or inside depending on the weather, this ought to save you some time decorating and children will love it! First, go on a little nature walk to round up some signs of the season: pinecones, fallen branches, leftover acorn shells, whatever you can find. Have the children arrange them in a way that seems beautiful to them – if it’s available, use snow to shape figures and designs! Finally add some brightly colored offerings to or reminders of the Sun, such as orange slices, dried flower petals, or vibrant stones. This activity gets everyone moving and thinking creatively, a must in these months of waning light.
- Craft Ornaments TogetherA highlight of many Pagan Yule celebrations is the gift exchange – which can be incredibly fun, but also stressful if you’re on a budget and all the children want to bring a gift. A fun solution is to sit everyone down at the table together for a crafting afternoon! Paint, glitter, yarn, and natural objects can be used to make beautiful solstice ornaments for any Pagan’s Yule tree. Bonus – these also work as great gifts for grandparents or other caregivers as well!
- Daily Devotionals Based on the Twelve Days of YuleThis is a great way to bring the family together on the holidays. Just reading a short prayer together each morning can nurture a powerful family bond, and the twelve days of Yule have the bonus of falling mostly after Christmas, so there’s a lot more breathing room for starting this tradition. One of my favorites is here at the Pagan/Wiccan section of about.com, but just searching google comes up with a myriad of options for those of different paths under the Pagan umbrella.
- Telling StoriesThere’s no better way to build a tradition than sitting around and telling stories of the previous years it’s been tried. My family and I decorate the Yule tree together every year, and each year some silly little mistake or mishap from years before is memorialized by our children. These stories often start with, “Remember that time when..” and end with “and so we finally managed to get the tree up a few days later.” Your family is hopefully not as prone to clumsy silliness as mine, but remembering the previous times you’ve spent together in the form of stories builds relationships and reinforces bonds.
- A Solstice VigilThis one works better for elementary age or a little older, and can be so powerful. Getting to stay up late is always a big treat, and introducing something else special like hot cocoa or a holiday movie helps to make this a magical experience. At our house, we turn off all the lights except for the Yule tree and look out the windows over the park. Sometimes the ground is blanketed in snow, and the silence of the world is striking even to young children. Much like New Year’s Eve, when children will try their best to stay up to midnight but often fail, usually the children will pass out far before the sun rises (honestly, usually I pass out before the sun rises, too!) but even a few minutes of that special silent night can be very meaningful to a child.