Tag Archives: holiday activities for kids

KIDS’ ACTIVITIES FOR IMBOLC

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EXPLANATION & INFORMATION

STORIES

  • “The Cailleach of the Snows” from the book “Celtic Memories” by Caitlin Matthews (for ages 8 and up).

CRAFTS

  • Make candles with beeswax sheets.
  • Make candle holders with salt dough.

ACTIVITIES

  • Look for early signs of Spring. What is the first flower to make its way through the thawing soil? What kinds of birds and other wildlife do you see? This is a good time to start a nature journal.
  • Do a Spring cleaning of your room, as well as helping the grown-ups clean the rest of the house.
  • With a grown-up’s help, make juniper room spray with a few drops of juniper oil (or a sprig of juniper) in a small spray bottle of distilled water. Use this as a spiritual cleanse on Pagan holidays.
  • Decorate a nature table with an Imbolc nature scene; put down a white cloth for snow, some green cloth for the greening land, a doll dressed like the goddess Brigit, and some of her animals (swan, cow, sheep, hibernating animals…).
  • Help grown-ups with preparing special Imbolc foods.

Kids' Activities for Imbolc

12 Nights of Yule — Dough Ornaments

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Simple symbols crafted in dough is a classic craft to help kids celebrate the 12 Nights.

Salt dough can last a long time if stored well. You can add cinnamon for color and scent. Apple cinnamon dough is another alternative with a darker color and stronger scent. Besides the dough ingredients, you’ll need a flat working surface, rolling pin, cookie and biscuit cutters, a butter knife, toothpick (and/or any clay tools you might like to use), a straw (for making a hole for hanging), and wax paper on a tray or piece of cardboard (for drying). After the ornaments dry, you’ll need string or ribbon for hanging.

Some of the symbols are pretty straight-forward cookie cut-outs, for others, there’s a little bit of method involved. Evenly roll out your dough to a medium thickness; too thin and it will break easily, too thick and it will weigh too much to hang on your Yule tree. Remember to lightly dampen dough with water when joining pieces or adhering to a base layer.

For the 1st Night of Yule, sacred to Frigga and the Dísir (ancestral guardian mothers), make a Three Matronae ornament. Roll out your dough and cut out a circle using a medium lid as a template. Cut out three triangles and attach to the circle side by side. Cut out three circles with a small circle cutter or bottle cap, and attach to base above triangles to represent hair or halos. Roll out smaller circles for their heads and flatten just above triangles. Roll out little coils of dough for their arms. Make little half circle bowls for one or more of them to hold. Poke a hole in the top for hanging and set aside to dry.

three mothers ornament

For the 2nd Night of Yule, the night of the Wild Hunt, simply roll out the dough and use a cookie cutter to cut out an animal shape that represents the Hunt. A horse is a good one, and so is a hound. It is easy to find deer cookie cutters and this would work nicely as well. Use tools to etch in details and texture, if you like. Poke a hole in the top for hanging and set aside to dry.

For the 3rd Night, the High Feast of Yule, make a cornucopia. Roll out your dough and cut out a large circle shape, using a biscuit cutter or lid. Use a small biscuit cutter (about 1/2 the size of the big one) to cut away a piece from the edge of your dough circle to where you have a fat crescent. Place a biscuit cutter over one of the crescent ends. Press down on one side only to round out and trim away the end. Roll out a dough coil and form into a circle to place on the rounded end of the dough circle. Use your thumb to indent dough inside coiled ring. Add little dough balls to represent fruit. (You can press in whole cloves for fruit stems.) Use the handle of a butter knife to press ridges into the cornucopia. Poke a hole in the top for hanging and set aside to dry.

cornucopia ornament

The 4th Night of Yule is sacred to Freya, Njörd, and Ægir, but we like to honor the whole of the Vanir gods as well. The wagon wheel is a symbol of the Vanir, and the heart is a symbol for Freya. To make this wagon wheel ornament, roll out your dough and use a lid or biscuit cutter to cut out a circle. Using a small heart cutter, cut our four hearts around the center, with points toward the center. This establishes a four spoke wheel. Take the hearts that were cut out and attach around the edges between the cut out hearts.

vanir wheel

For the 5th Night of Yule, the night of community, use a cookie cutter to cut out a house shape, and a small cutter to cut out a window. Alternatively, you could cut out out several people with cookie cutters and join their hands together. Poke a hole in the top for hanging and set aside to dry.

For the 6th Night of Yule, sacred to Eir, goddess of healing, make a mortar and pestle. Roll out dough and use a large biscuit cutter to cut out a circle. Use the same biscuit cutter to trim pieces out of both sides to resemble a mortar. Use a butter knife to cut a straight bottom. Attach a coil shape to the top (at a sideways slant) and a flatten a ball shape to the top of the coil. Make dough coils for the top and bottom rims of the mortar and attach. Poke a hole in the top for hanging and set aside to dry.

mortar and pestle

For the 7th Night of Yule, sacred to Thor, make Thor’s goat. Roll out you dough and use a goat cookie cutter to cut out the shape. If you don’t have a goat cookie cutter, use a deer cookie cutter instead; after you have cut out the shape, trim away the antlers and replace with little coils of dough to resemble goat horns. Use a fork to scrape in fur texture, or press some dough through a garlic press and attach to goat. Poke a hole in the top for hanging and set aside to dry.

For the 8th Night of Yule, sacred to Skaði and Ullr, make a snowflake. If you don’t have a snowflake cookie cutter, you can use a star cookie cutter. Roll out your dough and use the pointy end of a small heart cookie cutter to cut two notches out of the sides of each star point. Poke a hole in the top for hanging and set aside to dry.

snowflake ornament

For the 9th Night of Yule, sacred to Odin, make a Yule Father ornament. Roll our your dough and use a Santa cookie cutter to press out your shape. You can make the ornament look more like Odin by pinching the top of the hat to make it pointy (instead of pom-pom topped), and pinching up a hat brim. You can also make him an eye patch. Press in face details with a toothpick or other tool. Poke a hole in the top for hanging and set aside to dry.

Odin ornament

For the 10th Night of Yule, sacred to Sunna and the Ancestors, make a sun ornament. If you don’t have a sun cookie cutter, use a flower cookie cutter instead. See my sun plaque article for tips on making a sun face. Poke a hole in the top for hanging and set aside to dry.

For the 11th Night of Yule, sacred to all of the goddesses and the Valkyrie, make a goddess/Valkyrie ornament. Roll out your dough and cut out a triangle shape. Cut out and attach two teardrop shapes to the triangle sides. Attach a cut out of an upside down heart over the top of the triangle, and a flattened dough ball above this. Use the handle of a butter knife to press in skirt folds. Use coiled dough to make the arms and hair. (Alternatively, you could use an angel cookie cutter to make this ornament.) Use toothpick or other tools to add details, if you like. Poke holes in the top of each wing for hanging and set aside to dry.

goddess ornament

For the 12th Night of Yule, Oath Night, sacred to all the gods, make either an Oath Night pig, or a bell to ring in the New Year. Roll out your dough and use your choice of cookie cutter to cut out your shape. Use tools to add details, if you like. Poke a hole in the top for hanging and set aside to dry.

When your ornaments are dry, you can paint them. If you added cinnamon to your dough (or used apple cinnamon dough), you will want to let the dough show instead of painting over it. But you may want to use a little bit of white puff paint on dark dough for accents and contrast. When paint is dry, lace a string or ribbon through the hole for hanging.

Parents, you can use the ornaments to help your child commemorate each Night of Yule… have each of them put away in their own individual drawstring bags (or drawers in a box), and have your child take out each ornament on it’s specified day and hang on your Yule tree.

12 Nights of Yule Dough Ornaments

Kids’ Activities for the Autumn Equinox

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EXPLANATION & INFORMATION

Look for these illustrated books at your local library to teach your children about the Autumn Equinox and some general traditions associated with it in various cultures:

STORIES

  • Wild Child” by Lynn Plourde (for ages 3 – 8)

ACTIVITIES

  • Help grown-ups with bringing in the harvest (or shopping for it at the farmer’s market) and with cooking the Harvest Feast.
  • Have your own Autumn Equinox ritual.
  • Heathens honor the Álfar (Elves) at Haustblót (Autumn Sacrifice). The Álfar are ancestral fathers and nature spirits. Make a little altar in your backyard with a flat stone and offer baked treats and other goodies.

CRAFTS

  • Make a harvest necklace; soak a variety of large beans until they are soft enough to be pierced through with a needle, and string the beans onto dental floss.
  • With help from a grown-up, make a bread cornucopia. Fill it with local fruits and veggies to be the centerpiece of your harvest supper.

Kid's Activities for Autumn Equinox

Three Easy Lughnasadh Crafts

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Lughnasadh is a celebration of first fruits and grains. It is the wake of Lugh’s foster mother, Tailtiu- Great One of the Great Earth. Lugh is a god of many skills and has many roles. His name is associated with light, but contrary to popular belief, it is the flash of lightning, not sunlight, with which he has been traditionally associated. In County Mayo thunderstorms were referred to as battles between Lugh and Balor. Balor’s evil eye represents the scorching late-summer sun. Lugh’s defeat of Balor represents August storms defeating the crop-threatening summer heat and drought.

The theme of these three crafts are wheat and blueberries. Blueberries are a traditional Lughnasadh food, and according to Mara Freeman, the Sunday nearest August 1st was called “Bilberry (blueberry) Sunday” (Kindling the Celtic Spirit). Blueberries, to me, also represent the color of the stormy skies hoped for at Lughnasadh. It is good luck and a good omen if it rains on Lughnasadh.

blueberries and wheat crafts

salt-dough blueberry beads
The first thing you’ll need to make is the salt dough blueberry beads. Take a handful of salt dough, add a generous squirt of blue food coloring, and a few drops of red food coloring. Knead in the color well. Adjust if necessary to get the color you want. Roll into blueberry sized balls, poke a hole through the middle with a skewer, and let dry.

wheat & blueberry crown
Measure two inches down from the top edge of a brown paper grocery bag and cut in a straight line to get an even strip. Fold this in half lengthwise. Wrap around your child’s head to measure for size. Remove, tape in place and trim excess. Arrange placement of blueberry beads and wheat heads. Glue in place.

wheat & blueberry necklace (or wall hanging)
With heavy-duty thread and a yarn needle, string blueberry beads and wheat heads, piercing through the middle of the wheat head. Stop and tie off when you reach the length you want. You may want to trim the long bristles of the wheat.

wheat mobile

Lughnasadh mobile
To make this craft, you’ll need: blueberry beads, wheat heads, heavy string or yarn, marker or crayon, scissors, glue, a hole-punch, stained glass paint (or white glue mixed with food coloring), painbrush, and waxed paper (or re-purpose some clear plastic packaging).
First, trace three shapes onto your wax paper or plastic packaging. Use your wheat heads to help you decide how big they need to be. My shapes were a half-circle, a circle, and a triangle, but you can choose whatever shapes you like. Paint the shapes, the color of your choosing, with the stained glass mixture. Let dry and cut out. Punch holes in the top and bottom of each shape. Arrange wheat heads on shapes with color peeping though. Glue in place and let dry. Thread onto string or yarn, interspersed with beads, tying knots to hold each item in place. Hang from a sunny window.

three Lughnasadh crafts

Kids’ Activities for Lughnasadh / Lammas / Freyfaxi

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Here are some ideas and resources for celebrating Lughnasadh/Lammas/Freyfaxi with children. These three early to mid- August holidays overlap and share some common themes; the grain (and berry) harvest, fertility of the land, and sporting events and fairs that include horse races.

I disagree with the notion that this was a time of honoring the waning sun. I think that idea comes from the Victorian-era notion that Lúgh is a sun god. The Celtic god Lúgh is most likely a lightning god; his name means “flashing light” and his epithet lonnbeimnech means “fierce striker”. In County Mayo thunderstorms were referred to as battles between Lúgh and Balor. Balor’s evil eye represents the scorching late-summer sun. Lúgh’s defeat of Balor represents August storms defeating the crop-threatening summer heat and drought. Lightning strikes help fertilize the soil with nitrogen, and of course, the rain that comes along with the thunder and lightning is essential for a good harvest.

Many of the (otherwise somewhat useful) books and stories suggested below have a few lines or words in them describing Lúgh as a sun god. Unfortunately, this is true of many, if not most, children’s mythology books. When I find some that are more accurate, I will happily (joyfully!) update this list. So, as with anything, read to yourself before reading aloud to your kids to correct historical mistakes and inaccuracies.

EXPLANATION & INFORMATION

STORIES

  • “Saving Freyfaxi” by Christy Lenzi, a four-part story starting in the July/August 2010 issue of Cricket magazine. The story is about a Viking girl who is put in charge of a sacred horse, Freyfaxi, dedicated to the god Frey.

GAMES Games are of special significance for this holiday; the death of Lúgh’s foster-mother, Tailtiu, is commemorated by the Lughnasadh Games.

  • More familiar games well suited to this holiday are horseshoes/ ring toss, footraces, tug-of-war, and sack races, etc.
  • Idea for an indoor game: play the board game “Hi-ho Cherry-O” with real blueberries instead of the plastic cherries.

CRAFTS / ACTIVITIES

  • Go berry-picking.
  • Visit a horse ranch. Horses are associated with both Lúgh, and with the Norse god Freyr.
  • Help a grown-up with bread-baking; practice kneading and shaping dough into harvest knots and other shapes.
  • Make deity coloring pages to decorate your altar; use an internet image search to find one you like, save it, and go to a photo editing website like ScrapColoring to convert your image.

Lughnasadh deities

  • Try wheat weaving. Braided wheat straw decorations are symbols of good luck and prosperity. They are part of the harvest celebrations of many cultures. They are often called “corn dollies”, but this kind of corn dolly is not shaped like a person. (Also, corn dollies are not made with corn husks. In Europe, corn means a grain like wheat, barley, or rye.) For a simple first wheat weaving project, take three wheat stalks of equal length and soak the stems in warm water until they bend easily. Line them up beside each other. Starting at the wheat heads, braid the stalks all the way to the end, loop it around and tie to just above the wheat heads with a red ribbon. Find a book at the library on wheat weaving and work your way up to making more difficult wheat weaving designs.

Kids Activities for Lammas

Kids’ Activities for Yule

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EXPLANATION & INFORMATION
Look for these illustrated books at your local library to teach your children about the Winter Solstice and some general traditions associated with it in various cultures:
The Shortest Day by Wendy Pfeffer (for ages 4-8)

We Celebrate Winter by Bobbie Kalman.

STORIES
Grandmother Winter by Phyllis Root (for ages 4-8) Impressive scratchboard-and-watercolor illustrations highlight a fanciful tale regarding the origin of snow, based on Mother Holle from German folklore.

Jan Brett’s Snowy Treasury, and Trouble with Trolls;  Jan Brett’s signature artwork is full of intricate details that showcase Norse life and art. (ages 3 and up)

The Tomten by Astrid Lindgren (for ages 4-8)

For stories aligned with the 12 Nights of Yule theme:
From D’Aulaires’ Book of Norse Myths by Ingri & Edgar Parin d’Aulaire (for ages 5 and up), read:
•“Frigg and the Goddesses” for Modranecht,
•“Odin’s Eight-legged Steed” for the 2nd night of Yule,
•stories about Thor and Frey for the 3rd night,
•“Njord, Frey and Freya” for the 4th night,
•“The Creation of Man” for the 5th night,
•stories about Thor for the 7th night,
•“Skade, the Ski-goddess” for the 8th night,
•“Odin, the All-father” for the 9th night,
•“The Creation of Man” for the 10th night (Ancestor theme),
•“The Valkyries and Valhalla” for the 11th night, and
•“The Creation of the World” for the 12th night of Yule.
*Equivalent stories may also be found in Gods and Heroes from Viking Mythology by Brian Branston, which has a more Pagan-friendly tone and ending.

CRAFTS
Make bird treats and decorate a tree outside with them.
Make Yule tree ornaments with salt dough.
Fold & cut sun faces and paper snowflakes.
Make paper sunbursts and starbursts.
Make jingle bell instruments; string jingle bells onto pipe cleaners, then wrap onto sticks.

ACTIVITIES
Help with the holiday baking and decorating.
Make Yule gifts for family members.
Sing Yule carols and use jingle bell instruments as accompaniment.

 Kids Activities for Yule

KIDS’ ACTIVITIES FOR SAMHAIN / WINTERNIGHTS

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EXPLANATION & INFORMATION

STORIES

  • “When the Wind Stops” by Charlotte Zolotow (for ages 4-8) Use this book to introduce the concept of rebirth/continuance of life.

CRAFTS

  • Make skull necklaces/bracelets- look for skull beads in import shops and craft stores, or make your own.
  • Make a Silver Branch: find a fallen tree branch- not too big or small- a good size to hang on a wall close to your home (or personal) altar, perhaps the size of a long wand. Paint it silver with craft paint and let dry. Attach silk apple blossoms and silver or gold bells. You can use the silver branch to mark the beginning of rituals, or as a purification tool (the sound of the bells drives away malevolent spirits away). The Silver Branch is a symbol of the Celtic Otherworld, the Isle of Apples.
  • Make an Ancestor Doll in the likeness of one of the ancestors for the ancestor altar. Use his/her favorite colors. If the ancestor had a favorite flower, attach one to the doll. If you have a scrap of fabric or an accessory that belonged to that her/him, use that too. You can also scent the doll with the ancestor’s favorite scent. One easy doll making method is the yarn doll. Kids old enough to use a knife could make an apple head ancestor doll (start well in advance of the holiday).

ACTIVITIES

  • Learn about your ancestors, visit graves and make grave stone rubbings.
  • Commit to memory the names of your direct ancestors, back as far as you can.
  • Find a hidden charm in barmbrack or colcannon.
  • Watch movies or video clips that explain the Origin of Halloween: The Halloween Tree, and also some short “bet you didn’t know” Halloween clips from the history channel website.

Kids' Activities for Samhain/Winternights