Yule Celebration, Children Activities
Yule is a Sabbat to welcome back the Sun King. The sun is vital to all that exist on Earth. It is the giver of light and warmth, and causes the rebirth of this past years crops by warming and gently coaxing the seeds that have been sleeping underground during the winter. Traditional methods of celebrating this Sabbat are mostly inside activities.
Yule Log Hike
Warm Clothes, Sense of Adventure.
This is an activity that can be done the weekend before Yule. On a bright crisp morning, dress the family warmly and head for the park, mountains, or beach. As you hike along, looking for that special Yule log to place in your hearth, also be looking for decorations to make it personalized by each member of the family. Select a proportionally sized log that will fit easily into your fire place. Ash, oak, or cedar make great Yule logs. Try to find one that has already fallen and is on the ground. On the beach, driftwood can be found and obtained for your log. As you are looking, or on your way back home look for natural decorations to adorn your Yule log with. Traditional adornments are, pine cones, leaves, holly sprigs, mistletoe sprigs, rosebuds, winter flowers, wheat stalks, and corn husks. If you must cut anything from a living plant, remember to ask and thank the plant for its gift.
If you don't have a fire place, select a smaller log, slightly flat on one side so that it doesn't roll. Adorning the logs will appear farther along in the activities. (Explain how the Yule log was set ablaze on Solstice night to help vanquish the dark and add strength to the returning sun.)
Sun Welcoming Center Pieces:
Flat or bowled wicker basket, Evergreen Boughs, Oranges and Apples, Whole Cloves, Walnuts, Hazelnuts, Wheat Stalks, Flour, Red, Green, and Gold Bows or String.
Children of all ages will delight in both making and giving these delightful center pieces. Place the basket in the center of the table. Lay a couple of evergreen boughs (can be found at most Christmas tree lots) in bottom of basket so that the tips flow out from all sides. Spike the oranges all the way around with several whole cloves. Arrange the oranges and apples on top of the boughs. Arrange in a couple of the walnuts and hazel nuts. Place a couple of the wheat stalks standing up amidst the fruit. Lightly dust with flour. Tie bows to the handle and outside the basket. ( Tell children about each special part of the centerpiece. Explain that the baskets were used during the harvests during the season before. The evergreen boughs are symbols of immortality, reminding us that the Sun King is not dead, but reappears at Yule each year to lengthen, brighten and warm the days ahead. The oranges and apples are symbols of the Sun King, The nuts symbolize the seeds as they lay sleeping and awaiting the Sun King's return. The wheat stalks symbolize the yearly harvests and the flour represents the triumph of the forces of light and life.)
Sun Bursting Ornaments
Ruler or Compass, Scissors, Thin Cardboard, Gold Foil Paper, Glue Stick, Heavy Thread and Needle.
Help child cut out a 4" cardboard circle. With this template, the child can then trace and cut out 14 circles from the foil paper. One by one, fold a circle in half, half, and half again. Unfold the circle and cut along the fold lines, stopping about 1/2 inch from the center. Repeat until all the circles are cut. Form the points of the Sun Burst by wrapping each of the eight segments around the point of a sharpened pencil. Point of pencil should face away from the center of the circle. Secure each point with a dab of glue. Thread a needle with 18" length of thread. Insert the needle through all the centers of the circles from the foil side of the first seven and the plain side of the last seven. Gently pull the circles together, bunching them into a ball. Tie off with a knot, and use the excess thread to form a loop for hanging the ornament. ( Hang up in windows to reflect the sunlight or on tree for decoration, explain to children how the sun gets stronger, climbs higher, and last longer in the sky each day starting at Yule.)
Welcome Sunshine Bells
Thin Cardboard, Pencil and Scissors, One Light yellow and One Bright Yellow Felt Square (10"x10"), 7 Small Jingle Bells, 12" Gold String or Cord, White Glue, Buttons, Glitter, Sequins.
Help child to draw a circle 7" in diameter, and another circle 7" in diameter with eight 1" triangle rays on the cardboard. Cut out for patterns. Place circle on the light yellow felt square, trace and cut out. Do the same with the "rayed" circle on the bright yellow felt. Using a drinking glass as a guide, trace a circle in the center, on the back side of both felt cut-outs. Carefully fold each circle in half, and make a cut from one side of center circle to the other. Repeat 3 times for a total of 4 cuts per piece. This is how you will get the decoration over the doorknob. Next, line up the circles and the cuts so that the rays extend 1" from behind the light yellow felt circle. Glue together. Allow the child to draw designs on the front of the ornament with glue. Sprinkle with glitter and glue on some sequins and buttons. Cut gold string or cord into three 4" strands. Tie jingle bells (spaced) onto the gold string or cord. Glue string/cord to the bottom of the Sun decoration on the back side. Allow to dry. Place on a doorknob that the bells will jingle as the door is opened and closed. ( Tell children that more than just the sun brightens our lives everyday. Explain the way to welcome the Yule sun back into their lives is to keep the brightness in their hearts all year long. Jingle bells make a warm and inviting sound, and therefore should jingle each time someone enters or leaves a room.)
You Are My Sunshine Garland
Pencil, Scissors, "Rayed" Circle Pattern (above), Bright Yellow Poster Paper, Glue, Glitter, Gold Garland, Gold Thread and Needle, Photos.
For each frame, trace and cut out 2 rayed circles from the poster board. Cut a 2" circle in the center of one of the cutouts. This will be the front of the frame. Decorate the cutouts with gold glitter. Place photo between the cutouts, with the face peering through the center circle. Trim photo to fit frame, if necessary. Glue the frame together. Allow to dry. Thread needle with gold thread, and poke needle through the top ray of the frame. Pull some thread through and tie frame to gold garland. Make enough Sunshine picture frames for all family members, including pets. Tie each to the garland, and place garland on tree, over a door, on the wall, or other prominent place. (Explain to children that each family member is like a piece of sunshine. Smiles and laughter brighten our spirits and warm our hearts.)
Cup O' Sunshine
Terra-Cotta Pot, Paints and Paintbrushes, Styrofoam Block, String, Scissors, 1 yd 2" wide Green Ribbon, Yellow, Red, and Orange Lollipops and Sugar Sticks, Jelly Beans.
Clean terra-cotta pot if necessary. Allow to dry. Paint outside and down to first lip of inside with a bright solid color. After this base coat dries, decorate with other colors. When completely dry, place a block of styrofoam in the bottom of the pot. Cut green leaves out of the ribbon and tie to lollipops with string. Push the lollipop sticks into the styrofoam block to anchor them. Add the sugar sticks and fill rest of pot with loose jellybeans. (Explain to children that during the dark part of the year, sometimes we need to make our own sunshine. Let them know that bright colored gardens and flowers will be back in the spring, and this little pot of sunshine will cheer up a sick friend or relative.)
Dough Art Decorations
4 cups flour, 2 cups water, 1 cup salt, Cookie Cutters, Wire Ornament Hangers, Acrylic Paints.
Combine flour, salt, and water in a large bowl. Dough should kneed easily but not be sticky, if so, add more flour. On a flat surface, lay down some waxed paper. Take a handful of the dough and roll out with a rolling pin. Cut dough into shapes with the cookie cutters. Make a hole in top of "cookie" for wire hanger. Place on ungreased cookie sheet and put in oven at 400 degrees for 8-10 minutes or until *slightly* brown. Remove from oven and allow to cool thoroughly. Paint with acrylic paints. Allow to dry, place hanger in hole and adorn tree, packages, or hang in windows. (Allow children to make-up Yule stories to go along with each decoration they are making.)
Adorning the Yule Log
Holly, Mistletoe, Rosebuds, Pine Cones, Evergreen Sprigs, Gold String/Cord, Gold Bows, Apple Cider, Flour.
After cleaning off the Yule log, let the children decorate it how ever they chose. Glue, wire, or small holes in the log will help to adhere the decorations. Once the log is decorated, "wassail" (toast and douse) it with a libation of apple cider. Finally, dust the log with white flour, set in grate in fireplace, and (parents only) set ablaze. (Explain to children how Yule logs used to smolder for 12 days before there was another ceremony to put the log out. Then apart of the log was strapped to the plow the next spring to spread the blessings over the land, and another piece was saved to light the next Yule's log, the next year.)
Sunny Disposition Wreath (For the older kids)
1-2 Large Bundles Evergreen Boughs, 1 Bundle Holly, 1 Wreath Frame (Wire or Styrofoam), Garden Clippers, Spool of Fine Green Wire, 2 Yards Red Ribbon, Adornments.
Cut boughs into 6" to 8" pieces. Same with Holly. Cut about 20- 15" pieces of the wire. Gather a bundle of boughs together, thicker at the back and fanning out in the front. Wrap wire around the bundle about 2/3 from the top. Hold bundle in place and wrap wire around the bundle and the frame. Repeat this step, only adding a sprig of holly in front. Repeat steps 1 and 2, adding holly to bundle every other time. Make sure that all the bundles face the same direction. Where the last bundle meets the bottom of the first bundle is usually barer than the rest of the wreath, so that is where you can attach a large yellow, orange, red, or gold bow to symbolize the Sun King. Now you are ready to wire on all sorts of adornments, candies, pine cones, rosebuds, seashells, small bells, or anything to make it more personal. (Tell kids about how evergreen boughs and holly were hung both inside and outside of the homes to extend and invitation to the nature sprites to join in the Yule celebration.)
--Adapted by Akasha Ap Emrys to share with all her friends and those of like mind--
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