Saturday, November 22

untraditional traditions

I don't know if you have any celebratory family traditions that you continue. Perhaps even one as common as Christmas. When you think about it, these traditions tend to morph into something that is a mixture of the initial purpose and the tradition's purpose. For example, Christmas as a Christian celebration, and Christmas as a tradition - a time about getting together with relatives and whatever little traditions you've included year after year.

Well, the Mr has something like that. It's totally religious, it's a saint's day. A saint is bestowed upon every family and every year the family 'celebrates', or honours, that saint. Much like Christmas, it's centred around food and family and close friends. But also, the local priest comes round to your home, blesses it, blesses the special bread you've made and the people of the household.

Basically, there is LOT of incense and things said in latin, or some ancient unintelligible language or other.

The Mr and I aren't religious. I'm very spiritual but he's actually atheist. Not only that, we've never been fans of middle-management, as a friend worded it last night. You know, priests and such. And we don't believe in saints. Hmmm... sounds like a huge obstacle, considering it's a saint's day.

But here's the thing. As the latter type of tradition - a family thing - the Mr wanted to retain it. I wanted to give our Wildflower the chance to be part of it. Actually, it was me who suggested having the celebration! There is something magical and about traditions and rituals passed down through generations - one type of ancestral connection.

So how do we work this?

We decided that we would keep a few rituals, such as the special bread and the lighting of the candle. But we don't need anything blessed, thanks.

I know purists would not consider what we celebrated yesterday as the true celebration, but fortunately, we don't do this for others. To us, it's very important and special, especially when we have moved away and are not with the rest of the family. This day honours our family - the Wildflower's heritage from dad's side. When the Mr lights the candle, he does so as his father still does, as his grandfather once did, and so and so on.

I think it a wonderfully organic way to connect your children to their heritage. Especially if the parents are a mixed bunch.

Yesterday, in our own awkward-this-is-our-first-time-taking-this-on sort of way...... we connected. I'm not certain if the Mr's lack of religion/belief made it what I thought it could be. But hey, perhaps it needs more time.


  1. Good for you! That sounds nice. Traditions are important and a means of connecting the present to generations of the past.

    I've never heard of your saints tradition. Is that Orthodox? Or Church of England? Many of my ancestors came from England and at least one side, the Adams, attended the parish in their town, Alton in Hampshire.

    BTW, where in England are you from? It is my dream someday to visit Alton and other parts in southern England where my ancestors came from. Having my degree in English, focused mostly on British Lit., the Jane Austen connection to that area interests me as well.

    Peace, Lisa

  2. That sounds gorgeous! I think that's a wonderful idea, and such a gift to the Wildflower.

    I feel the same way about the 'middle management' element of religion/spiritual traditions. Traditions are so personal aren't they? And therefore it makes sense that they are chosen to reflect those personal connections and reference points.

    Not being raised in organised religion, nor feeling drawn to any, their rituals don't speak to me, (although some of the Christian traditions share very close parallels with pagan rituals and practices).

    In my family, because of the strong Highland Scot heritage, New Year is much more important than Christmas. So we really like to focus on this, (as well as other Celtic festivals that reflect the rhythm of the seasons.

    In fact, it's probably the seasons and their changes that we focus on the most in my home. That way I hope my child will get a sense of tradition and interconnectedness, and an awareness of nature and the environment, whilst hopefully feeling free to choose her own path, whatever it may be.

  3. I have found it hard to create new traditions from scratch, so to speak. But sometimes they just come to us and work really well. One that is totally secular and simply for fun is that for our birthdays we always have bagels and lox and cream cheese for breakfast.

    For Advent, we do our nature table in a fairly tradition Waldorf way: first week stones and crystals, second week plants, third week animals, fourth week Mary and Joseph, on Christmas baby Jesus and the shepherds, and then on Twelfth Night the Three Kings. We don't do an advent wreath, but we do hang an advent calendar. Can you tell I'm thinking of Advent??

  4. Most fabulous to adapt tradition to suit your family, it will hold the most meaning.

  5. Lisa - yep, hubby is orthodox by way of family. I'm not from England, but lived there for 12.5yrs. I found England to have an amazing strength of energy. I recommend visiting for sure.
    Funny my English deg was in Oz and focused on Brit Lit as well! lol

    Docwitch - the new year in Scotland is a GREAT ball of fun. It's a little unnerving at the amount of exuberance displayed in the Edinburgh. That's probably because I'm short and Scots generally look huge to me. lol

  6. Doc - also meant to add that doing something alongside nature is the most free of any precribed meaning, although of course we can add what we like.

    Anthromama- yes I can see advent must be nearing. :) I didn't waldorf had an advent connection! Or is that your connection?

    Trina - I agree, it's all about authentic meaning to me too.

  7. Traditions are really not individual, but we can adapt them of course to what works for us as individuals. Traditions and rituals by their very nature come from way, way back. They can connect us to the earth, to our ancestors, to the whole world in some ways. I find great beauty in that.

    Waldorf schools/ways do not have traditions in and of themselves, but they have adopted (mostly Christian which of course come mostly from Pagan) traditions, and given them their own "Waldorf-y" spin as in the type of dolls, etc. Nature tables and saints days and the seasonal stuff make up most of what Waldorf schools do as rituals, all coming from past traditions.

  8. Thanks Lisa! Didn't realise they included saint's days too.

  9. We don't do many of the traditions that people do here either and we definitely aren't religious so I don't see a lot of point celebrating religious holidays.

    I always like to take the opportunity to be together as a family. Travel, ski, hike, stay in and build forts, eat with friends, eat as a family... but then we like to do this year round! It's just more obvious on holiday's when others are busy.

    I think it's important that we all have our own things we do as families to help us be more together. Good on ya, to finding your own traditions!


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