First Day Of Winter

by John Riggio

Here's a fun – and cross curricular! – way to celebrate the start of the winter season. This song is upbeat, happy, and full of high energy. The melody line isn't too difficult, and the chorus has a memorable hook.

"First Day Of Winter" refers, of course, to the winter solstice. And since this writer lives in Wisconsin (in the northern hemisphere), we sing about it from that perspective. To our friends in the southern hemisphere, you can certainly change the lyrics and rhythms to fit where you live. For example, "It's the shortest day of the year in the southern hemisphere. On June 21st or thereabouts!" (Alter the rhythms to fit as you like in bar 21.)

The word solstice comes from the Latin phrase "sun stand still," since the sun appears to stand still in the sky. In wintertime, the sun hangs low in the sky; in summer, the sun hangs high in the sky. Compare this with the equinox, from the Latin "equal night," when day and night have approximately equal length. One interesting fact is that solstices and equinoxes do not fall on the same day every year. Also, 23.5 degrees is an approximate number, and it is not constant.

Performance ideas for the song include having singers dress for winter (e.g., coats, boots, hats). Add a visual aid depicting the earth rotating on its axis. You could use a globe, or a backdrop or projection of earth as it orbits the sun. You could even use a student wearing a cardboard cut-out of the earth. If you have him "rotate," be sure he does so in a safe way. (Rotation = dizzy = falling.)

Text is taken from Music K-8 magazine.