Winter Solstice: A Time for Renewal
The winter solstice (December 21/22) is the point at which the sun is farthest from the equator; thus, it is the darkest and shortest day of the year. As with the Summer Solstice, the longest day of the year, these seasonal events held great importance for many traditional cultures, including First Nations.
For thousands of years, Indigenous people noted the changing of the seasons and to acknowledge these cycles, they celebrated through ceremony.
With the passing of the winter solstice and the rising of the sun in the noon sky, First Nations people had reason to celebrate as they saw the sun strengthening once more. Many months of cold weather still remained before the spring thaw, but they realized that the return of the warm season was inevitable.
European settlers brought Christmas and New Year’s traditions to Turtle Island and these, of course, are the festivities that most North Americans observe today. Since they also fall around the time of the winter solstice, it is the perfect time of year to reflect on times past, and look forward to the “new sun” of the future.
For teachers coming off a much-needed holiday break, New Year’s/winter solstice is also a great time of year to plan some goals for the remainder of the school year. To help get you started, here are some ideas:
- Believe in yourself and stop worrying about not being good enough.
- Talk to parents more and let them know how/what their children are doing.
- Keep the classroom tidier.
- Keep marking up-to-date.
- Set meaningful homework tasks.
- Invite more community members and Elders to class.
- Find a way to make non-engaged students see that they matter.
- Connect more lessons to Indigenous language and culture.
- Get students out on the land more.
Enjoy the rest of your school year!