IN THE Northern Hemisphere, the first day of winter, the winter solstice, occurs when the sun appears at its lowest point in the sky, making it the shortest day and longest night of the year. This year, the winter solstice will occur on Sunday.

Early winter solstice celebrations, which are believed to have started about 10,000 B.C., were marked with trepidation. Ancient people knew if they had not prepared for the event during the nine months before the solstice, they would likely not survive the winter.

Until they saw the days grow longer, people had no science to understand that the sun would once again shine brightly on their crops during the growing season. Today, many people note the day with relief that the cycle of dark days begins to reverse and the sun begins to stay above the horizon, giving us a bit more daylight each day.

I made a winter fairy queen to celebrate the winter solstice with directions I found at ph.ly/fairy.

Supplies you will need

* Wooden doll pin and stand

* 1 white chenille stem

* Cotton or purchased doll hair

* White felt

* White tulle

* 1 white silk flower

* 1 acorn top

* 1 white feather

* Low-temperature glue gun

How to make it

Wrap the chenille stem around the body (twisting it once in the back to hold better) just below the head and trim to arm length.

Cut a 6-by-5-inch rectangle from white felt. Fold in half, matching the two shorter sides together.

Cut a small hole at the fold in the center to slip over the top of the clothespin. Cut two slits in the front and back from the bottom edge to about 2 inches from the fold. Make it wide enough to wrap around the pin and glue front to back. Make two diagonal cuts from the bottom outside corners up to the top of the slits for sleeves. Glue the edges together.

Draw a circle 5 inches in circumference for a skirt and cut out. Cut a hole in the center and slip up over the clothespin. Bunch the tulle around the pin under the skirt and glue.

Cut four petals from a silk flower and glue to the back of the clothespin. Glue some white cotton to the top of the pin for hair and glue the acorn top on top. Wrap a feather around the pin at the waist and secure in back with glue. Place the pin inside a stand. Glue in place to hold.