Month in Moments - December '20
Happy December all! This month, I am excited to share a calendar about all things light: playing with light, noticing colors in the sky, tales about how light came to be, a bit of science behind light, celebrations with light, and spreading our own light. Before we jump into the weekly overviews, I wanted to share why I love creating calendars like this. As a kiddo, I was always fascinated by other traditions, religions, and myths. As I got older, I began to appreciate myths even more - so often they parallel scientific thinking. People made observations (sometimes with VERY limited technology with the ancient myths we have) and tried to explain what they saw. Seeking explanations for natural phenomena is what science is all about. Additionally, from a learning stand-point, I love sharing myths because it shows learners that we all come up with stories for things we can't explain, and we can always seek new information and ideas. Knowing that myth and storytelling is ALL OVER makes it less scary to change our own (mis)knowings.
After we explore some myths about light, the sun, and the moon, we'll jump into looking at different celebrations of light that are often rooted in religion. There are SO many threads that connect our belief systems and so many stories you see around the globe (creation stories, great floods). I learn a lot about my own beliefs and spirituality when I learn about the beliefs and practices of others - I hope this calendar creates space for conversations that are meaningful with your family. As we move into a season of overly-commercialized holidays, I like taking the time to slow down and to learn about traditions and celebrations I didn't grow up with - this helps me and our family get back to what we value about the holidays.
I want to be very clear that this calendar isn't remotely all-encompassing. There are over 100 light related deities in global myths. I am not an anthropologist or a religious scholar (but take a look here at just ONE example of the intersection between geology and mythology). I am curious and love looking things up... and I get things wrong (I already mixed Chinese New Year and Chinese Mid-Autumn Festival like five times). I aimed for a fairly global representation in the calendar and strove to find #ownvoices stories (linked in the calendar). That said, I would LOVE to hear what your family learns as you explore myths, religious holidays, celebrations, etc. I would also be honored to hear about your family's traditions and find ways to incorporate our different traditions in future calendars. The sources I used are linked in the calendar (I also have a cool stash of books in my personal collection and currently library pile, so if you're looking for books, shoot me an email at firstname.lastname@example.org).
So, let's jump into a week by week overview:
Week 1: Lights Outside - Myths and science both stem from observation, so get outside and look around this week! Notice the color of the sky at different times of day, play with flashlights, and notice differences and similarities in the decorations around your neighborhood. This week kind of warms us up for the rest of the month. We start by focusing on what we see right in front of us, then we can start telling stories - telling our own myths - that will help us understand how other myths came to be. Make a map to use throughout the month.
Grab your copy of this month's calendar here!
Week 2: Light Tales - We start the week by thinking about how we use light in our family, what we believe about light, what we know about light, and more. This might be as simple as talking about candles on a birthday cake to celebrate another year of life, or a night light that helps us be brave. Then, we'll start weaving in the idea of light as something we can carry with us and share. That light can be kindness, joy, the divine... Listen to Fannie Lou Hamer sing "This Little Light of Mine" and maybe make your own verses to the song. Look at the science and myths behind the creation of the sun and moon and the reason behind day and night. Try movement inspired by light - an Olympic torch relay, sun and/or moon salutations, and candlestick pose.
Week 3-4: Celebrate with Light - For these two weeks, we'll kind of alternate between learning/brainstorming and a bit of creating. We'll learn about holidays that use light to celebrate and/or that celebrate light. Read a snippet about the festival or holiday and place the card about it on a map. Notice if you know anyone or if your community has events celebrating this holiday and move your cards around. A goal here is to see how ideas and people transfer, and how often we end up sharing stories with each other. Kiddos will also learn that not every person they meet will celebrate the same things they do, but that there are often more commonalities than we might notice at first. Try your hand at making paper candles (toilet paper tubes with clothespins), crafting a floating krathong, cutting paper lanterns, and more. For these weeks, print out the cards in the PDF on the third page and cut the cards out.
Week 5: Be the Light - A common request I get is resources on social emotional learning, and the idea that we all have light/good/G-dliness/love/kindness/etc in us is something makes it easier (but not necessarily easy :) to be kind and patient with each other. In coaching and therapy, this is called "unconditional positive regard", in teaching I would say, "assume positive intent", in yoga we use the Sanskrit word, "namaste" that loosely translates as "the divine/the light in me honors the light in you and in everyone/thing else". This week, we'll prepare for a new year by noticing what kindness we can share with others, sharing favorite memories from the year, and maybe even lighting your own krathong to set your intentions and hopes and prayers for the year afloat :).
Disclaimer: The line between cultural appreciation and learning and cultural appropriation can be a fine line to walk. If you think I've appropriated any cultural things too much, let me know. I will say that on the official Kwanzaa website, there's a note not to mix artifacts from different celebrations, however I did not want to leave Kwanzaa off the calendar, so you'll see an invitation to think about what colors are meaningful to your family and we'll make candles using those colors.
So! Play with light, find ways to share your light with others, and celebrate this month :). Share pics along the way by tagging @watchwonderbloom on IG.