Sunday 16 December 2012

Advent/Solstice Spiral

In my quest to create meaningful time together as a family at this busy time of year, this year I decided to make one of the advent spirals that I have been seeing all over Pinterest such as this one, and this one, and this. Each year I try to add another new tradition to our Yule Solstice celebration, and when I saw these I knew the spiral would be this year's addition.

My children each have a Playmobile Advent calendar that they love playing with, and they often get little Advent gifts from family and friends. My daughters, like most children in North America, get worked up into a frenzy leading up to the present orgy we call Christmas morning. I want them to look forward, and talk about, the lead up the the longest night of the year when we celebrate the return of the sun and longer days. Creating a Solstice spiral seemed like the perfect way to count down the nights to the Solstice.

I love how we decorate our home for the holiday season and our living room is a particular favourite of mine. We do the ubiquitous tree and mantle decorations, as well as putting all the holiday knick knacks on shelves that I have collected through the years from students. My winter village that was handmade and handed down from my grandma will always hold a special place in my heart. I love sitting in the living room with Christmas music playing, the fire crackling, and all the twinkling lights and flickering candles. Sitting there one night at the beginning of December I had a flash of inspiration about how I would personalize the spiral and make it special for our family Solstice celebration.

I found some Christmas fabric that was passed down to me from a teacher friend who retired and was looking to give away all her stuff. I love the holly pattern and knew it would be perfect for a Solstice spiral. We have a circular side table in our living room, so I cut the coordinating fabric into circles to layer one on top of the other to fit the table. I'm a lazy crafter and my sewing machine currently resides at my mother's home, so I knew that this would have to be a no-sew craft. Enter the handy dandy pinking shears.

As I wanted a marker for each of the nights of December leading up to the Solstice, I cut brown felt circles for each night to be glued onto the top circle. I decided to have 22 places because of the fluctuating date for the Solstice. When I stepped back to take stock of my efforts, however, I was very disappointed. It looked like a pizza!
I supposed I should have planned it out on paper instead of just in my head, but remember, I'm lazy. The rest of the afternoon was spent making this look as unlike a pizza as I could make it!

After adding various buttons, sparkle glue and pinecones I was satisfied with my efforts. The last step was adding the candles for each night leading to the Solstice. I think most people agree that candles make any event magical. Light and fire seem to figure into most cultural and religious festivals, and celebrations in the winter are no exception. I love how candles represent the return of the sun in the lighter half of the year, along with the reverence that fire seems to inspire.

I have a two year old daughter, however, who is a natural-born scientist in the way she takes things apart (otherwise known as breaking or destroying them) so we have not been able to use real candles since she was mobile. I am terrified that if I turn my back for a second she will burn our house down. I know there are families that can have candles around little children, and once we could do this. For some reason we could just tell my oldest daughter not to do something and she wouldn't. Candles were off limits for her. Sadly we cannot do it with my third daughter. I know it isn't very eco, but for now we use the battery powered plastic "candles" that mimic a natural flickering flame. Hopefully someday we will be able to return to my beloved wax candles.

We have had a reoccurring illness work its way through my family for the past week so we have been hit and miss with the ritual of adding another candle to the spiral and turning on lighting the candles each night. I just love how the living room looks, with the tree lit and the new spiral glowing.

I look forward to the Solstice spiral becoming part of our December rituals in years to come. And I look forward to the final night of our countdown when we make our wishes for the new year and throw them into the fire, receive our new pair of pyjamas for the longest night of the year and enjoy a peaceful evening together as a family.


  1. Wow, I am in love with your Solstice spiral. How beautiful and such a fantastic ritual for December.