Creating traditions

Icon-Summer (18)With Lughnasad up ahead and the boys turning one, the question of how to build traditions, what traditions and how to celebrate which holidays gets ever closer to my heart. Neither Leander nor I celebrate Christian festivals and while I found a spiritual home in paganism with a big touch of Wicca, he is not so settled in any religious or spiritual frame, despite being a very spiritual person. So it’s not only that we celebrate different days and fests than all of our family and most of our friends, it’s also that we celebrate them differently. Plus, we both don’t believe in forcing a spiritual or religious view on children and would rather they find their own way. That does however not cancel out celebrating certain occasions.

I think for most of us the memories of holiday celebrations (no matter which religion you belong to) are amongst the most cherished from our childhood. I wouldn’t want my children to miss out on them for the world. However, I also don’t want to “celebrate” meaningless days (i.e. for us meaningless) just because everybody celebrates them. Living in Germany, that would be the Christian holidays like Easter, St. Nicolas’ Day and Christmas. Fortunately for me, despite Leander not sharing each and every one of my beliefs, one of the main and most important things that we both want to celebrate is the change of seasons. As we live in a Middle European country, we do have four seasons and the changes and challenges that come with them are wonderfully represented in the eight pagan holidays that I celebrate.

At the moment, I celebrate the rituals mostly with two or three of my friends and they are a haven of quiet, peace, meditation, vizualisations and focus – none of which really correspond well with children 😉 And they shouldn’t and needn’t. Hence follows that one major part of creating rituals and traditions for us as a family and for our children especially is to make them child-friendly and also: not restricted to one day. Celebrating seasons is after all celebrating a season and not just a one-day-happening.

For the time being, the boys are still too young to actually grasp changes in our behaviour let alone see some kind of meaning. I think, the first real big celebration we’ll have with them where they can actively take a small part in, will be Yule in December. (Plus, I must confess that I kind of wait for a new and bigger home with actual space to decorate for the seasons as I want to. In our current flat, everything I decorate just adds to the clutter. Which is another story…) And already I think about what to do, how to include them, how to create something that has meaning for all of us and is fun for them. A big, BIG help here is the book Circle Round by Starhawk, Diane Baker and Anne Hill which has really beautiful ideas and stories and background information. And I’m so looking forward to the time when our boys are bigger and can understand what we’re doing and take part in plays and preparations. Two of my closest friends are pregnant and I’m already excited for celebrations where all of our children can play together!

I must confess, this is one of the hardest things when you digress from the belief system your family has and the majority of the society you live in has: having very, very few people to share it with. That means not only to actually celebrate with other people (though this is a big part) but also not being able to talk about it, orient yourself towards others, share and be inspired. The fear and annoyance of always having to explain oneself also often prevents me from talking about something like that with other parents. “We don’t celebrate christian holidays.” – “But you do celebrate Christmas at least, right?!” – “Your poor children.” … *sigh*

I would be very thankful if you shared some of your thoughts and experiences. How do you handle something like that? Do you or did you create some traditions/rituals from scratch or did they just “happen” to you? I’d love to hear your thoughts! Until then, I continue planning and thinking. 😉

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6 thoughts on “Creating traditions

  1. I think I have the “advantage” that I never really had another belief system. I haven’t been christened or anything else and my family never went to church, not even on christmas day. So for me there was nothing to digress from but with finding my belief system, which as you know could be described as yours, I finally found something and even more – people who I can share it with. And that came to me as a surprise as you know 😉 I was quite surprised that there were people in my direkt enviroment who share my belief system, to whom I can talk about it, who inspire me though the times when I actually have been able to celebrate with them have been very rare up until now. And, additionally, I am, as I see now, very lucky since as I don’t have kids I haven’t experienced awkward comments like you have. But I don’t wander around telling everyone what my beliefs are though I don’t lie about them or conceal them. I talk about it if relegion becomes a subject or if I’m asked but that is all. So I feel very free in my expression of my beliefs, nobody in my circle of friends or at my workplace is eyeing me critically, in fact most of them are rather interested or share it with me. I guess I am very lucky.

    I wish you the best for creating your new traditions and I am sure you’ll find something wonderful for you, your husband and your kids since you put your heart and soul in it and one is able to feel it. 🙂

    • Thanks so much, honey! ♥

      I must confess that the comments in the post have not happened as such as I also don’t discuss these issues with people I don’t know as a rule. (Not unless it comes up by itself.) It is however a mixture of fear of such reactions and “wordly” interpretations of looks, also by my family.

  2. I am in a very similar situation with my husband not having a set belief system (but being incredibly spiritual in his own right) and myself following the Wheel of the Year. One of the things he most loves about our life is how being with me has allowed him to celebrate the seasons and he’s enjoyed coming along to more ‘ritual’ type celebrations in the past. However the things we both seem to enjoy and appreciate most are the little things we do that just start to happen; travelling to a local fair every Beltane, waiting up through the darkest night at Midwinter and then watching the Sun rise again after. We’re both looking forward to our little one being able to join us in these but I also know we’re both keen to create some traditions too; like you!

    I think sharing the decoration of the home and perhaps having a special meal are two of the simple acts I’d like to introduce when little one comes along. And when they are old enough, getting them to help decorate our altars to reflect the season and telling lots of stories that are in sync with the festivals. And of course being outside as much as possible, taking walks on seasonal days and letting them feel the energy of the turning year for themselves! I’m actually hoping having a child will allow me to expand and explore my celebrations even more than I do now! All aspirations at the moment of course but we’ll see how things go… I hope you enjoy your own journey!! x

    • Thanks so much, I really appreciate your comment 😀 It actually mirrors a lot of thoughts and experiences I had/have myself.
      “I’m actually hoping having a child will allow me to expand and explore my celebrations even more than I do now!” – absolutely my thoughts. I’m so very much looking forward to including them in everything.

  3. One of the things that I actually kept from my years in fundamentalist Christianity was the phrase, “Don’t talk about your beliefs unprovoked, but live your life in a way that makes people ask about them.” (Rede nicht ungefragt über deinen Glauben, aber lebe so, dass man dich danach fragt.) It’s hard to find people who believe the exact same thing as you do – it’s not like there is an Official Church of Esoscheiß ;-). But I found that if I’m willing to reach out to others with similar faith systems, I can create a loose network of like-minded people which works pretty well for me.

  4. I am really impressed by your decision to allow your children to find religion for themselves. Personally, I hate it when people superimpose their beliefs unto me. But I am always open to learning about it. So perhaps the best way I see how is for you to introduce your religion (paganism) to them. Show them what it is all about, and even allow them to take part in the festivities. But always remind them that it is your own personal belief and that they are free to decide for their own.

    I am biracial, so I grew up in a multi-religious household. My father believed in hinduism and buddhism. My mother was catholic. The wonderful thing is that we grew up exposed to the various religious beliefs. My siblings and I were given free reign to discover religion for ourselves. None of us currently subscribe to any organised religion, but that doesn’t mean we are atheists. I guess by having an understanding of the different religions, we were able to pick out parts we like from each religious teaching to form a more spiritual yet humanist perspective. After all, the primary objective of all religions should be morality.

    As for religious festivities. I personally feel that they have become rather secular in nature. You see many non-christians celebrating Christmas worldwide. It’s not really about the religious significance, but just an excuse to celebrate with loved ones. I myself celebrate the Christmas, Halloween, Easter, Deepavali (Hindu), Vesak Day (Buddhist), Chinese New Year. There is no harm in letting your kids celebrate holidays or festivities that may be contrary to their beliefs (now or in the future). It’s all about exposure and celebrations. The more the merrier!

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