Celebrating Holidays in Ways That the Religious Significance Comes Through

When it comes to holidays, the important thing is to help families celebrate them in ways that the religious significance comes through. What that religious significance actually is can vary from family to family and from congregation to congregation. What doesn’t vary, however, are the methods congregations can use to assist families plan their holiday celebrations.

Talking Points

When it comes to celebrating holidays in Unitarian Universalist households, the difficulty is found not so much in the how, but in the why. The inquisitive attitude embodied in the questions traditionally asked by the youngest child during a Passover Seder could apply to almost any religious celebration. Why do we celebrate this holiday? Preparing parents to answer that question may be the most helpful thing a congregation can do. Offering Unitarian Universalist talking points based on the Six Sources is a good place to start. These talking points can be posted on the Family Page of a congregation’s website; they can be sent home to families as part of the religious education program; and they can be talked about from the pulpit during worship services. Ideally, these talking points would be a combination of historical information about the holiday and a variety of Unitarian Universalist interpretations based on the Six Sources.


Helping families celebrate holidays with meaningful rituals is another way congregations can make sure the religious significance comes through. And there are plenty of amazing Unitarian Universalist resources available on rituals and traditions. Again, the important thing is to make these resources available to families in a variety of ways. Web resources, Sunday school handouts, suggestions from the pulpit—families can never get too much information about celebrating holidays in religiously significant ways.

Rev. Lisa Schwartz celebrates Chalica at the UU Fellowship in Topeka

Unitarian Universalist Holidays

There are a growing number of Unitarian Universalists who have felt the need to create and celebrate holidays specifically for our tradition, like Chalica and Sources Suppers. These new celebrations are in addition to some of the popular traditions already observed by many congregation, such as Water Communion and Flower Communion. How much emphasis individual congregations place on these celebrations varies. The important thing is to make sure families have the resources they need to understand why a particular celebration is being observed.

Resources for Celebrating Holidays

Talking Points
For resources about the Six Sources of Unitarian Universalism, see my post on Caring Conversations.

For an excellent example of how to interpret winter holidays from a Unitarian Universalist perspective, see “‘Tis the Season for Your Own Family Rituals,” an article by Meg Cox in the Winter 2005 of the UU World.

For some examples of how to families can create their own rituals, see Meg’s July/August 2003 UU World article “Rituals for Holidays and Everyday.”

An wonderful resource from the UUA Bookstore on family rituals: How to Bury a Goldfish: And Other Ceremonies and Celebrations for Everyday Life.

Unitarian Universalist Holidays

For a brief introduction how Unitarian Universalist celebrate holidays, including Flower Communion and Water Ceremony/Communion see “Holidays” on the uua.org website.

For information on Chalica, check out this article at uuworld.org:
Chalica, New Weeklong UU Holiday, Slowly Gains Adherents.

To find out more about the Sources Supper, visit the Unity Church-Unitarian website: The Sources Supper: A Celebration of Our Unitarian Universalist Heritage.