First day of Winter activities (Merry Midwinter)

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The first day of winter has been celebrated for centuries. Many different religions and beliefs have their own festivals and traditions. 

How do you celebrate the first day of winter?

We like to acknowledge winter, the coming of spring and also tie it in to Christmas which is only a few days from the Winter Solstice. 

Here are some activities you may wish to incorporate.

First Day of Winter Nature Story:

Midwinter in the Forest by Meaghan Jackson

Christopher is a little brown squirrel who lives high in an oak tree. Below him, at the base of the tree, is his good friend Gareth a kind and gentle toad. Gareth hibernates for the winter along with many other forest creatures. Many birds have also migrated south to warmer locations. 

The air was chilly when Christopher woke up. He snuggled deeper into his warm nest and pulled a soft piece of moss around him. Finally, he got out of bed and had a good breakfast of warm acorn coffee and walnut bread. He was very excited because today was the first day of winter. Many of his forest friends would be celebrating that afternoon. They did not have to wait until evening as today would be the shortest day of the year and the sunset in the later afternoon. Christopher had noticed the moon was out even in the middle of the day.

After checking on his nut stores, the little squirrel went into his living room and pulled a glass jar from the cabinet. Carefully covering the jar in glue and tissue had crafted a beautiful lantern and left it to dry. He would need it later that afternoon. Then he spent some time in the kitchen baking cookies for the celebration. Spiral cookies took a lot of work, but it was a job he happily took on whilst singing Christmas carols. 

When he arrived at the clearing, Christopher noticed that the deer had already cleared away the leaves. Henry, the badger, had begun laying pine bows in a spiral shape. Christopher hadn’t seen as much of Henry lately and was happy to help him complete the solstice spiral. Some birds brought in berries and bits of holly to add to the spiral. As the sun began to sink lower in the sky, Christopher could see lights twinkling among the trees like little stars, only they were moving towards the clearing. In little groups, more forest animals came to join them holding lanterns. Mrs. Fox had a basket of muffins and Abigail the grey rabbit looked as though she was carrying a large thermos and cups.  All the food was carefully placed on some flat rocks nearby

A large barn owl called for attention. He welcomed the forest animals to the Midwinter celebration and said a prayer of thanksgiving. One by one they walked reverently towards the centre of the circle, placed their lantern in the spiral, and walked back out. Christopher thought about all his blessings on the way in, and how thankful he was for Jesus on the way out. The spiral was beautiful and lit up the whole clearing.

Afterward, everyone ate and wished each other well. Some animals would see each other in a few days for Christmas celebrations. Others they would see again at NewYears.  A few sleepy critters had woken only to greet their friends and would go back to hibernate until the spring.

The forest animals would continue to check in on each other over the winter to make sure that everyone had what they needed by way of warmth and food. That evening, Christopher walked home with a happy heart, grateful for all his friends.

First Day of Winter Poems: 

  • The Shortest Day by Susan Cooper 
  • Merry Midwinter From the The Secret Staircase, 1983 Brambly Hedge

Art appreciation: 

  • The Shortest Day by Carson Ellis 
  • Mid Winter Sunset by Joseph Farquharson

Picture books:

  • Winter Solstice picture books
  • Brambly Hedge – The Secret Staircase by Jill Barklem 
  • First day of Winter by Denise Fleming
  • The Shortest Day by Susan Cooper
  • The Shortest Day by Wendy Pfeffer

Winter Solstice Baking:

  • Bake bread in the shape of a sun
  • Spiral cookies
  • Yule log cake
  • Eat dinner by candle light


  • Track the sun rise and sun set times this week then compare them to the summer solstice. 
  • Look for signs of winter
  • Notice shadows
  • Make an advent spiral
  • Have a bonfire 

First Day of Winter Crafts: 

  • Lanterns
  • Make candles
  • Advent spiral 


  • Paint with yellow 
  • Explore spiral shapes
  • Trace shadows

Winter Solstice Game: 

  • Shadow tag
  • Tag in the dark with flashlights
  • Shadow puppets



Winter solstice explanation

Midwinter Song: 

In the bleak midwinter by H Darke


For behold, the winter is past; the rain is over and gone. The flowers appear on the earth, the time of singing has come, and the voice of the turtledove is heard in our land. Song of Solomon 2:11-12 ESV 

Again Jesus spoke to them, saying, “I am the light of the world. Whoever follows me will not walk in darkness, but will have the light of life.”  John 8:12 ESV

I have come into the world as light, so that whoever believes in me may not remain in darkness. John 12:46 ESV


This may be a good opportunity to teach or be aware of reverence. Explain that some events are times of thoughtfulness and respect. You may wish to practice going on a reverent walk. If your child isn’t sure what to think about, perhaps suggest they think of things they are thankful for.

In the months ahead your family may find you are spending more time inside. Be prepared, don’t let cabin fever set in. 

  • Think of fun ways to keep active both inside and out. 
  • Make a list of activities you can easily prep for those longer evenings and bored days. 
  • Connect with others
  • Eat well
  • Get outside if possible
  • Keep a strong rhythm and routine
  • Possible add in some fun days
  • Plan special time or monthly dates with your children

More activities:

This Post Has 2 Comments

  1. Rob Porcher

    While you may think that it is a good idea to buy them toy kitchen sets, you should also consider whether or not it is a good idea to allow your child to play with the real kitchen that they will eventually grow up in.

    1. joyfulmud_admin

      That is a very good point. I think both would be ideal. Kids can play with their pretend kitchen for imaginative play, and should get involved in the real kitchen as much as possible.

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