RE-Flections: Holiday Traditions


by Beryl Aschenberg, Director or Religious Education

Hear how the songs that were sung keep echoing, beautiful and clear.

All of the people we loved are beside us now, can’t you feel them near?

                                    -Candles Long Ago (Sharon, Lois, and Bram)

Throughout human history, people have gathered in the coldest, darkest time of the year. They offered each other comfort, warmth, and hope. In ancient times people needed hope to believe that the sun would return and the land would once again be fertile. The Jewish people find hope as they recall the old story of an inexplicable flame from a Menorah that should not have stayed lit; our Christian friends find meaning as they recall the story of Jesus’ birth in a lowly stable, and African American’s who celebrate Kwanzaa look to The Seven Principles (Nguzo Saba) to help them know and honor their past, while engaging in and improving their present, and imagining an expansive future.

Holiday traditions have been passed down through the years and connect us to one another. Over the years I’ve been fascinated to hear the differences in the ways that winter holidays are celebrated in our UU homes. In my own “Jewnitarian” home, the reading of Sophia Fahs’ poem “Each Night a Child Is Born is a Holy night” is a sacred custom, as is the foil wrapped Star of David perched on the top of our tree, and of course, the daily lighting of the Chanukah menorah. What traditions does your family hold dear? What rituals will become sacred to those you share them with in the years to come?

No matter what our beliefs, our lives are enriched by our ties to other people, past or present. In our church programs, we strive to bring this heritage to our multigenerational community to show the magic of human connections, to build the traditions that will enrich lives. I hope you and your family will join us at Follen this season to create meaningful celebrations and memories!