Inside: can you combine ice and fire in one experiment? You bet! It will look like the ice is on fire, but it won’t melt. Just the activity you need to celebrate winter solstice on December 21st.
Winter solstice occurs when the Earth’s North Pole is tilted farthest away from the sun. In the northern hemisphere where I live, it marks the official start of winter.
People have been celebrating this day for hundreds of years. At first, they did it as a tribute to the sun gods and later as a way to brighten the shortest day of the year.
If you were to track the movement of the sun for a year, you would notice that on December 21 (or 22nd, as the exact day varies from year to year) the sun is in the lowest position in the sky. It means that we get the fewest hours of sunlight.
The winter solstice is literally the darkest day of the year. For that reason, the winter solstice celebration usually involves lots of light and is alternatively called a celebration of light.
This year, there’s an additional cause for celebration because the winter solstice coincides with December’s full moon. The next time it will happen is 2094!!!
In my family, we like to celebrate the winter solstice with warmth and lots of light. We cook and eat our favorite family foods and light lots of candles.
Like many children, my kids find fire and ice fascinating. So our favorite candle is made out of ice. An ice candle? Yes. Follow along for instructions.
Fire and Ice Experiment
What you need
A large bowl
A medium bowl
Stones or something heavy to press down
What to do
- Fill the large bowl with water.
- Place the medium bowl inside the large bowl and fill it with stones to weight it down.
- Place it outside overnight. In our case, we woke up to a bright day filled with the drip, drip, drip of melting snow. On to plan B: the freezer.
- The next day, let the bowl rest at room temperature or run some hot water on the sides to free the ice from the bowls. My kids couldn’t wait, so they poked the ice and poured water on the middle bowl to help the ice release its grip on the bowl faster.
- Insert a candle, set outside, and light the fire.
Is the ice bowl melting?
Nope! The candle is not touching the ice and it’s too cold outside for the little warmth generated by candle light to make a difference.
My family did A LOT of camping when I was growing up and I still remember staring for hours at a dancing fire with a fascination and a total adoration. Looking at the fire through ice only adds a new kind of appeal. Ice, of course, is no less mysterious and beautiful than fire, and often looks like art.
Look at the beautiful design air bubbles and impurities created in our ice candle holder. I could study it for hours.
You can place some twigs and cranberries between the walls of your bowls before freezing. It looks stunning!
We are going to be eating dinner by candlelight this winter solstice. What about you? How do you celebrate winter solstice in your family?