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. 😉