This accordion book celebrates the winter solstice and the festivals of light that occur at this time of year. Since early in human history, this solar event has been important. As the days grew shorter, people felt that the light was leaving and that they needed to do something to ensure its return. Fires were burned to keep the light alive until the days grew longer. This celebration of the light in the darkness is also part of Yule, Christmas, Hanukkah, Kwanzaa, and Diwali. At Christian Christmas, houses as well as trees are decorated with lights. The eight candles of the menorah are lit through Jewish Hanukkah. The seven candles on the kinara burn through the seven days of Kwanzaa. Clay lamps are alight on houses and in gardens during the Indian Diwali.
Here are directions for making the book from recycled materials. You can make your own drawings or print and use the ones pictured below in the attached Festivals of Lights PDF.
Front or back panel of a grocery bag
Front or back panel of a cereal or cracker box
Glue stick and scrap paper (a page from a catalog works well.)
Make the Accordion
Cut the grocery bag panel in half lengthwise. I prefer to do it by folding the bag and then cutting off the fold. If you use the front of the bag, you may need to trim the top to make it even.
Fold the paper in half. If it has writing on one side (as mine did), the writing should be on the inside of the fold.
Take one layer of the paper, bring the edge back to meet the fold, and crease.
Turn the paper over.
Bring the edge back to meet the fold and crease. Your accordion is done. Now it’s time to add the covers.
Attach the Covers
You’ll be making the covers out of the cereal box panel. The first step is to decide whether you want the printed side of the box to show on the cover or not. Place the panel so that the side you want to show is face down on the table. I’m going to have the printed side show.
Open the top page of the accordion and place a piece of scrap paper inside.
Cover the entire surface with glue. Go over the edges and onto the scrap paper. I like to do it by starting in the center and making stripes up and the stripes down.
Place the accordion on one corner of the cereal box panel. Don’t place it right on the edge—leave a very small border of cover showing on the edges. If you look at a hardcover book, you’ll see that the cover is always just a little bit bigger than the pages.
Open the accordion and use your hand to smooth down the surface to help the glue adhere.
Close the accordion and trace around the top and side of the accordion with a pencil. Again, you’ll be leaving a very small border of cover before the pencil line.
Cut along the pencil lines. You now have a cover on one side of the accordion.
Place the accordion and one cover on the rest of the cereal box panel so that two edges line up. Trace around the other two edges and cut out the second cover.
Glue on the second cover using scrap paper and glue stick as before. Open and smooth to help the glue adhere.
You can use the illustrations from FestivalsofLight PDF to complete your book or make your own drawings.
Here are two books with information about the winter solstice and festivals of light:
The Winter Solstice, by Ellen B. Jackson
This is a nicely illustrated introduction to the winter solstice and the variety of celebrations around the world. It concludes with a nature story adapted from a Cherokee tale of creation.
Celebrations of Light: A Year of Holidays Around the World by Nancy Luenn
Atmospheric illustrations highlight descriptions of festivals of light throughout the year including Diwali, Hanukkah, St. Lucia’s Day, Christmas Posadas, and Kwanzaa.
There are directions and patterns for five more handmade books in Susan’s ebook Festivals of Light: Making Books for the Holiday Season.
Susan Kapuscinski Gaylord is an artist, educator, mother of two grown children, and the author of Handmade Books For A Healthy Planet. She shares her love of making books, her art, and celebrations of the seasons at susangaylord.com.