Thursday, December 6

Little Bear's Winter Solstice

Best known for his book Where the Wild Things Are, Maurice Sendak also has a nature-based show called "Maurice Sendak's Little Bear".  The show, aimed at children 5 and younger, is gentle and nature-centric.
Based on an extensive book series by Elsa H. Minarik, Little Bear was made into a animated tv series in 1995.  Little Bear and his family live in the forest and have days and nights full of star gazing, pinecone gathering, moon wishing, flower picking, and all sorts of things steeped in the reverence of nature.  There are episodes about Mother Nature, Jack Frost, and wind spirits.  A highly recommended Pagan-friendly show, it airs on Nick Jr. here in the US, and is offered on Treehouse TV or APTN in Canada as well as Tiny Pop in the UK. 

In the second season, Little Bear and his family celebrate the Winter Solstice.  Nick Jr.'s website in the US used to offer this full episode for free viewing here:  Little Bear's Winter Solstice, however in the fall of 2014 they changed the site and currently, only short clips are available for free.  

The episode opens on a moonlit night, with Little Bear sitting in the kitchen.  The table is dressed with goblets and cloth napkins.  Grandmother and Grandfather Bear come up the snowy walk outside, pulling a sled.  Little Bear greets them and the family gathers around a bare tree in the lawn.  They talk about traditions while hanging lanterns and lights in the tree for the "snow angels".  The family then holds hands and sings a song about loving winter.

They continue their celebration by hanging strings of dried fruit, popcorn, and bags of suet in the tree.  Little Bear contributes by hanging sugar cookies from the branches.  Neighbors come to visit and the children play in the snow while Solstice dinner finishes cooking.

When Mama Bear calls for dinner, the gang sit down to a feast of baked salmon, stew, potatoes, and corn on the cob.  While they are enjoying their Solstice feast, deer and other forest animals approach the decorated tree and eat the offerings left by the family.  After more singing, Little Bear checks the tree for evidence of "snow angel" activity.  He finds a single baby deer struggling to reach a cookie on the tree.  Little Bear helps the fawn and wishes all the animals a "Happy Winter Solstice".

As stated above, you can access this episode via the Nick Jr. website or, if you're an Amazon Prime subscriber, you can view it and other episodes there. 

If you'd like a more permanent version of this, you can buy a digital copy of  Little Bear's Winter Solstice for about $2 via Amazon. This episode contains three stories, all winter based (The Snowball Fight, Winter Solstice, and Snow Bound).

If digital isn't your style, you can pick up a VHS copy of "Little Bear's Winter Tales" (4 stories in total) through Amazon or Ebay.  As of today, a new copy will run you about $40 while a used copy will only run you about $5 with shipping.

Or... if you're a thrift-store connoisseur like Mama Stacey, you may just keep your eyes peeled for this at Goodwill.  They're usually less than a dollar. 

Happy Solstice!

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