Let the Sunshine In

The words "Yule Blessings" above a Celtic knot all in gold foil | hafuboti.com

All-inclusive holiday programming and displays would not be complete without the roots of modern Christmas celebrations: Yule! The Pagan Yuletide consists of 12 days of celebrating with feasting, gift giving, and special rituals dedicated to each day or night. I honestly fell down a bit of a rabbit hole while researching this holiday because of how interesting it is. I mean, I knew that a lot of Christmas’ symbols and traditions were based on Yule, but I was pretty shocked at how much of it is.

To help focus this holiday into a program that you could have in your library, I decided to focus on one of the days of the Yule Season: Winter Solstice. I have seen some children’s programming pop up now and then, but they generally focus on the scientific aspects of the day/night, and leave out the pagan connection. Some day we’ll find it – the pagan connection – the lovers, the dreamers, and meeeee…

MARKETING

I have created two flyer templates for potential Winter Solstice programs. There are two because I had two ideas, and I liked them both. I stayed away from the Yule season colors of red, green, white, and gold because I was concerned that patrons might get confused and expect it to be what they thought that a Christmas program should be.

The words "Winter Solstice Celebration" above a sabbat wheel all in sunrise colors | hafuboti.com

The words "Winter Solstice Storytime" above a sabbat wheel with holly imagery | hafuboti.com

The imagery I chose were a sunrise, holly, and the Wheel of the Year – all important parts of this winter celebration. I used this font. Click on either image above for a bigger letter-sized image that you can download and use.

BOOKS

I read lots of reviews for picture books that would pop-up when doing a Winter Solstice search. From a pagan perspective, it seems like most were lacking, or were thinly-veiled Christmas books. There were two, though, that stood out and look like potentially good storytime reads:

Elsie & Pooka Stories of the Sabbats and Seasons: Yule & Imbolc (978-1941175903) by Lora Craig-Gaddis

Rupert’s Tales: The Wheel of the Year – Samhain, Yule, Imbolc, and Ostara (978-0764339875) by Kyrja
(You should also get the companion book of this series that’s about the other four celebrations in the year)

Also, here’s a wonderful Goodreads list created by the even more wonderful Catherine Bellamy full of other options!

SONGS/RHYMES

All things sunshiny would work for songs and rhymes in this storytime. Here are some special things that I’ve come across while planning this program:

Morning Verse words in red for a Solstice program at your library | hafuboti.com

Here’s a neat Snow King poem.

Here’s Silent Night (Solstice Night) by Karina Skye.

Did you know that Deck the Halls was a more Yule-centric song? Someone decided to censor the verses that mentioned drinking. Heh.

ACTIVITIES

I’d recommend trying to find a local pagan group and inviting them to the event to share stories and talk about how they choose to celebrate. They could also do a variation of a Yule Candle Ritual (you can use electric candles for safety).

And if you’re in an area that allows it, then having a special bonfire would be amazing and I want to go there.

You can have the kids jingle bells to help chase away the night (and any scary things that may lurk in it). And you can have them shout for the sun to return. A variation on this would be to have the kids create cards for the sun, asking for it to please return.

One of the most popular events we’ve done in recent memory was creating gift candles. We did the “use clip art for kids to use markers and trace the images onto tissue paper” version. I LOVE THIS VERSION MORE. I can imagine a family gathering around their sheet of tissue paper while using their fingers to paint suns and sunbeams.  This would truly be a special memento that they will cherish for years.

One of the things we learned when doing this was to have dish towels to cover your hand that’s holding the candle because it gets HOT. The other thing was that we should have at minimum four people with hair dryers helping in the program. It takes some time for the wax to melt, and during that time a line of kids can form.

If you’re not comfortable with, or don’t have the budget for that particular craft, then this paper art would be lovely. As well as these sun faces. I can imagine a bunch of shiny sun faces in our library’s windows which would cheer everyone up during this time of year. This would be both a beautiful craft or an addition to an inclusive holiday display.

And there you have it: a good foundation for a more Pagan Winter Solstice program for your library. And as always, if you’re a practicing Pagan and feel that I have made any sort of error in this post, or if you have extra ideas to add to this post, then please share! Either in the comments or send me an email at hafuboti@gmail.com.

Want to know why I wrote this post? Here ya go.

4 thoughts on “Let the Sunshine In

  1. That candle with tissue paper was amazing, but can’t imagine doing that with my toddlers. What do you think about luminarias? Too associated w/ Christmas? I like having the kids draw a picture on a white lunch bag, dump in some sand and give them a tea candle to light at home (You could give them an electric candle, but that gets kind of pricey).

    • I agree that the tissue paper candle craft would be too complex with toddlers – I was imagining more as part of a family storytime.

      I’d say luminarias are too Christmas-specific, and it would be too complex of a concept to explain the irony of taking a Christian tradition and making it Pagan. I’d also be nervous about handing out candles for liability reasons. I found a set of 48 amber tea lights on ebay for $20.89 with a quick search (there may be better deals to be found) and I’d be willing to spend a bit more for safety’s sake.

      All this said, you can find tons of great toddler-approved crafts if you do a search for “toddler winter nature crafts,” and I think the majority of those would work.

      Thank you so much for your thoughts (and it was great to research luminarias since I did not realize their origin).

    • I’m so glad that it makes your heart glad!

      But I’m also sorry that you can’t be yourself around some of your coworkers (but I really don’t talk religion with mine, either).

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