Lazuli Green Island Mama

Lazuli Green Island Mama

Saturday, July 31, 2010

a celebration of Winter

"In the dark night of winter, the candle is the symbol of the light of soul and spirit shining out into the world. It is a celebration of light overcoming the darkness." (Connie Grawert, pre-school teacher)

With light and happy hearts, we recently (at the winter solstice) shared Choochie's first Winter Festival with him. The first Winter celebration is a special event indeed. The wintery, wet, windy day outside seems the perfect time to share this story here.

The Winter Festival is, I think, my favourite annual community event. We celebrate in two quite different ways, appropriate to the different ages of Chooch and Noah. One celebration is very much about sharing the light and warmth during the darkest time, the other is about finding it within, and honouring it.

I don't expect the images above to convey much of the beauty of it, but I will try to.

Firstly, there is the preparation for Choochie's festival: the water-colour painting of paper to become lanterns; little hands holding needles, poking holes in their paper lanterns; stories of winter and darkness; learning songs of light shining through the darkness; the baking of winter biscuits to share; and finally, watching Mama preparing the soup (lentil, bacon and garlic) while Dada finds the camp stove, mugs, extra lanterns, beanies, jackets, rugs, etc.

Candles on the banksia tree, growing there so cheerfully
Can you keep the dark away?
Lovely winter flowers.

Wattles with your tiny suns, underneath the spotted gums
Warm our hearts 'til spring time comes,
Lovely winter flowers.

Then, the winter's afternoon is finally here. We find our special festival site, build a fire in the afternoon light, warm up 40 different home-made soups on our camp-stoves, sing our songs around the fire, and - finally (!) - light our lanterns and head off... under the light of the full moon, carefully walking through bush and dodging puddles of mud, with our friends and family. As we begin heading back in the direction of the fire, there is a new sound coming through the darkness. It's rhythmical, and grounded, and you feel it coming through your feet and beating with your heart. It's the sound of drumming coming from the circle of drummers around our fire! And the evening continues, with drumming and dancing and eating biscuits and we wish that it would go on, and on, and on.

Such a beautiful way to introduce the celebration of winter to the little ones... but not so little: big enough to walk with hand-made, candle-lit lanterns through the bush at dusk and to stay up late enough for dancing and drumming under the full moon.

Noah, being 3 years older than Chooch, took part in an equally beautiful but much more sombre winter celebration: the walking of the winter labyrinth. The labyrinth is created using ivy vines and flowers, with a candle in the centre. The children, one by one, are given their candle - unlit - and they head off, slowly walking towards the light shining in the centre of the spiral. Their candle is lit and as they walk back out of the labyrinth, they leave their shining candle on a gold star to light the path for their friends.

"All is still.
We gather 'round this tiny light,
On the shortest days and longest night.
And as we watch,
Our spiral grows,
Our hearts and eyes begin to glow."

Such gifts these children bring.

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