9th Day: Solstice & Soyal (Celebrating Changing Seasons & Hopi Traditions)

On the ninth day we went to some of our favorite places in Kansas City and celebrated the Solstice and Soyal.

    Straight after picking Marshall up from school we headed to the Nelson Atkins Museum of Art.  The sculpture garden there is pretty amazing, we have had many picnics and celebrations there.

 

    Right now, they have a Plains Indian art exhibit installation- both inside and out of the museum.  We played among the tipis, listened to some Native American songs, and told some stories of different tribes’ beliefs.
 

 


This tipi was hand painted by an artist in the museum a few weeks ago as a live art demonstration

 

Singing in the tipi



    After our learning fun, Marshall wanted to run around the lawn and sculptures before going through his favorite part of the Nelson Atkins- the glass labyrinth.
 



    Once we were done, we said goodbye to the museum that holds so much art, history, and a little piece of our family’s heart.  
 
    At home, we started talking about Soyal.  Soyal is a celebration held by the Hopi tribes in the southwest United States.  The Hopi believed that on Soyal, the solstice, Kachina (spirits that protect the Hopi) came down from the peaks to bring back the sun.  It is said that everything that will happen in the next year is determined at Soyal.  It’s a celebration of dance, song, and sacred rituals within underground portions of pueblo.  One of the biggest lessons taught by the elders to the young on Soyal is respecting others and carrying on traditions in peace. 
 
    Before Soyal, in preparation, families make Pahos- prayer sticks.  Pahos are used to bless their animals, house, and family for Soyal.  We went outside our home to find our stick to make a Pahos.
 
“Stickkk, where are youuuu!?”




    Once we found the perfect stick from our walnut tree, we started talking about Pahos as we created our own.  I related the Pahos to the aspergillum (a collection of brush dipped in holy water) used in Catholic ceremonies, namely Easter Sunday, to bless the church community.  
 



    Mads loved creating his Pahos and learning all about the Hopi and Soyal.  It really is incredible how much kids can absorb and understand if you give them the chance to learn.  Marshall doesn’t confuse the cultures or belief systems with our own, but he enjoys them and understands that different people celebrate different things- and that’s okay. 
 
    Meanwhile, Brad decided to make some store bought cookie dough as a special treat.  Mint chocolate chip cookies- a Dingman family favorite Christmas flavor.
 
Yea there’s one missing…keep it movin’


    As dark approached ,we headed south to the George Owens Nature Sanctuary for their annual Solstice celebration.  
 
After receiving our complimentary travel mugs full of cocoa


    George Owen’s Solstice is always something we look forward to doing.  As you may remember, last year Brad missed out.  This year, we were happy to walk the torch lit path together as a family. 
 


    I always enjoy visiting the animals being rehabilitated at the nature sanctuary, but Marshall has always been deathly afraid of owls so it was a short visit at that station.
 


This little guy was a bit shy, understanably


    Along the trail were different stations dedicated to bon fires, making animal tracks out of casts made from the real deal, star gazing, ice sculpting, and identifying different animals.
Animal track casts to practice prints

 

Ice sleigh fun!

 

 

“Yum-yum, coffee, yum!”

 

Cocoa solstice stroll

 

   My boys sure loved sipping their hot cocoa- or coffee if you ask Marshall- along the chilly hike.  Mads’ “Yum-yum, coffee, yum” was the soundtrack to the hike.
    Soon enough, we reached the end and went into the lodge for craft time.  Marshall loves crafts and we were pleasantly surprised to find Ms. Helen there again this year.  Last year she couldn’t stop fawning over Marsh- this year was no different.  She squealed with delight when she saw him walk in, even remembering his name from a year ago!  Marshall certainly has a light about him that leaves an imprint on others.  Ms. Helen left her designated station so she could help Marshall with all the different crafts available.  We will surely miss seeing her next year!
Threading beads to make a cool bracelet

 

Showing off his new bracelet
Making snow flake corks

 

Glitter, more glitter!!

 

Helping Ms. Helen grate soap for a melted snowman craft

 

 

Ms. Helen making a cool holiday hat

 

Marshall modeling his cool hat

 

    Craft time came to an end all too soon and it was time to call it a night and head home.  We left with our arms full of spoils from the solstice, tummies full from cocoa, and hearts lit like the torches on the path.  Our time together as a family is always the most treasured time of the holidays.
    The ninth day was another day of learning of different cultures/ religions and how a thread of commonality connects us all.  It really is fascinating how many different cultures spanning time and earth recognized and celebrated the solstice.  The day was also spent saying some goodbyes to places that hold so many memories for our family.  Solstice and Soyal signal the coming of light and a way to the new year, all very fitting as we now make our way to carving out a new adventure, in a new home, for the new year.  
 
 
 
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