UU Mormon

Posts Tagged ‘holidays

sunrise Butterfly asked if we could celebrate the winter solstice this year.  It’s just the kind of thing that speaks to her on a spiritual level — that sense of being part of the cycle of the natural world.  We didn’t quite know how to celebrate it, so we spent some time surfing the web reading pagan/Wiccan websites and being very entertained.  I always knew that a lot of Christmas traditions and symbols were left over from pagan solstice observances, but I didn’t realize how pervasive it is.  It makes sense that efforts to focus on Christ at Christmas have never really caught on — there just isn’t much about it that’s truly Christian in origin.

For our little celebration we turned off all the lights in the house during the afternoon, then once the sun had set, we lit some candles (following the example of the solstice service at church last week, we had four candles, one for each compass direction), read “The Shortest Day” by Susan Cooper, sang “Deck the Halls”, and each opened one of our presents.  That was more than enough for NinjaBoy, who opened his new iPod Touch and hasn’t wanted to talk about anything else since. Butterfly and I made some garlands of popcorn and cranberries, and I frosted the Yule log cake, but Horatio had choir practice and didn’t get home until nearly 11 and I was asleep by then, so we had it for breakfast instead.


In the morning we took a walk in the woods at sunrise and put out nuts for the squirrels, NinjaBoy playing with his iPod all the while, and hung our cranberry/popcorn garlands on a bush in the backyard for the squirrels and chipmunks and birds.  There is evidence the critters have found them — I put some extra popcorn bits and cranberries on the top rail of the fence and it’s all cleaned off now.  Hopefully there won’t be any repercussions of attracting vermin — uh, woodland creatures — to our yard.

Breakfast was a sugar overload.  Not only did we have Yule log cake (with cream cheese frosting), but I couldn’t resist trying out a recipe for Nutella bread pudding. So good! And easy.  My kind of recipe.

Yule log

I’m fairly certain we will celebrate the solstice again next year.  Everybody enjoyed it, even NinjaBoy, and not only because he got to open a present early.  He especially liked the sunrise walk and asked if we could do it again.  I expected it to feel fake or forced — “real” holidays are the ones that you’ve grown up with and that are kind of organic.  Traditions just happen, you can’t manufacture them. But this felt like a real holiday, a cross between Christmas and New Year’s. And actually, it felt much more like an authentic holiday than New Year’s, because it was based in something real occurring in the physical world.  

After spending the morning in the quiet (and swampiness) of the woods and eating sweets with my family, it was interesting to scan through all the posts in my Facebook feed about the horrors of the traffic around the malls and the “Air Jordan” riots and think about how stressed out people are getting ready for the holidays, when I was feeling like it was a holiday.  A day for sitting around “playing with our electronics”, as NinjaBoy said. Christmas almost seems like an afterthought.  Not that the kids would agree with me on that. I hope we have enough presents…


by Philomytha

Short on words today, but I do have to mention that a miracle occurred this morning.

My boy tasted a date.

This is big. Really big. He also tried pita bread, string cheese, and clementines. The only thing he wouldn’t taste was the hummus.

Need I mention that the teacher bribed the kids with candy if they would taste everything? I don’t think even that would work for me at home.

Today’s holiday was Ramadan. They talked about how it was supposed to remind Muslims of the people in the world who never have enough to eat. And they wrote their names in Arabic.

My daughter’s class lit many chalices instead of just one, turned off the lights, and looked at the flames. Then they were supposed to write about how it made them feel.

Butterfly said it made her feel calm.

She also drew a picture of one way in which she wanted to make the world a better place — a water-powered car. Have I mentioned she’s a little bit of an environmentalist?

by Philomytha

I can’t believe I’m going to church on a holiday weekend. Normally I look forward to this weekend for half the year because the first weekend of October is General Conference and there’s no church.

This is the closest thing Mormons have to a religious holiday of their own. Except for Pioneer Day, which is July 24th (side note: my birthday is July 23rd and I have many resentful memories of spending my birthday at some gosh-awful ward Pioneer Day potluck. Okay, it probably happened once, but I really resented it!), and commemorates the day that the Mormon pioneers arrived in the Salt Lake Valley. All other Mormon holidays are the standard Christian holidays, but with less pomp. We don’t have Christmas Eve services, we don’t go to church on Christmas (unless it’s on a Sunday). On the closest Sunday to Christmas we have a Sacrament Meeting with a Christmas theme, but basically it’s just regular church.

General Conference happens twice a year — the other time is the first weekend of April — and consists of 8 hours of sermons (10 for men) from the top church leadership, spread over two days. Members watch it on TV or over satellite broadcasts, and sometimes they get together with friends and eat food and visit in between the conference sessions.

Everyone looks forward to it. Some for the spiritual uplift from hearing the prophets of God speak, and others, like me, for a weekend without church meetings.

And yet here I am, planning to go to church (the UU church, I mean) tomorrow and looking forward to it. Imagine! I’m hoping my son will agree to go to his RE class without me and I’ll be able to attend the worship service. I think I would enjoy a few more moments of quiet contemplation.

My son will not be learning about either General Conference or Pioneer Day in his “Holidays and Holy Days” class. I’ll have to teach him about those myself. Maybe next summer I can find a potluck to take him to. He’s such a picky eater he’ll resent it as much as I did. Oh the joy of passing traditions down through the generations!