Holidays and Celebrations
Because each Unitarian Universalist Fellowship is independent, there are no mandated celebrations unique to Unitarian Universalists. However, at the MCUUF, we have chosen to include the honoring of a number of traditional and non-traditional celebrations and holidays as part of our regular Worship Service schedule. The form of celebrations manifest differently from year to year. Sometimes we will choose to dedicate an entire service to a particular celebration or holiday, other times we may simply choose to recognize the day through verse or singing.
HOMECOMING – Usually the first Sunday after Labor Day. This is a time when many of our Fellowship return from summer travels, children return to their regular religious education classes and Adult religious exploration programs begin.
WATER COMMUNION: Usually celebrated at our annual Fellowship retreat. This ritual involves congregants who have brought small amounts of water to the service, taken from special places they have been over the summer or from sources where they have collected from a significant or symbolic way. They pour the water into a large bowl and tell the congregation where it is from and the meaning it has for them.
AUTUMN EQUINOX – A time to remember cycles, seasons, the inevitability of change. A time to make an inner turn as nature makes a turn of Her own. YOM KIPPUR – Dates of Yom Kippur follow the Jewish Calendar but are general recognized in late September or early October.
BLESSING OF THE ANIMALS – Usually in October. In the Roman Catholic tradition, Oct. 4 is the Feast of St. Francis of Assisi. St. Francis (1182-1226) was a monk who founded the contemporary order of Franciscans. He was known for his vow of poverty and his special connection to animals, among many other things. Many Unitarian Universalists have picked up on the tradition of blessing animals, particularly pets, on this day. St. Francis may receive little attention at this service, but usually his prayer is used.
DÍA DE LOS MUERTOS (ALL SOULS DAY) – Generally observed at the end of October or early November. Also called the Day of the Dead, All Souls Day is a day of remembrance for friends and loved ones who have passed away. It is a Roman Catholic day of commemoration and has prior origins in the ancient Pagan Festival of the Dead--which celebrated the Pagan belief that the souls of the dead would return for a meal with the family.
THANKSGIVING: Gratitude as a Spiritual Practice. Themes may include gratitude for loved ones, gathering the family together, Native American perspective on the holiday, Puritans, remembering those less fortunate.
ASSOCIATION SUNDAY's: are a request by our affiliate the Unitarian Universalist Association of congregations (UUA), for all congregations to recognize and support, both in spirit and financially, the national work of the Association. "Association Sunday"—is a day during which thousands of UUs across the nation simultaneously celebrate our shared commitment to Unitarian Universalism.
WINTER SOLSTICE – usually around December 21. For some Unitarian Universalists who have reservations about Christmas, the Winter Solstice has come to be the focal point of the winter holiday season. This day has become important to both humanists and Pagans, who can find common ground in celebrating this occasion. Our themes might include light amid darkness; the death of nature and the cycle of life; the darkness just before the dawn; the miracle of every birth.
CHRISTMAS – It often includes "lessons and carols" and sometimes a story that conveys the spirit of Christmas. We often include a candle-lighting ritual in the service, in which the church lights are dimmed and
FIRE COMMUNION CEREMONY: In this service, congregants burn pieces of paper containing brief descriptions of something they most wish to leave behind and light a candle for a new hope for the coming year.
MARTIN LUTHER KING, JR. SUNDAY—the Sunday before the MLK holiday, in mid-January. Themes include: King—his life and activities; the civil rights movement; anti-racism; non-violence; social change; activism; ethic of love.
BLACK HISTORY—usually in February, for Black History Month. This service is an opportunity for many congregations to address social justice, racial justice, white privilege, racial identity. Whitney Young (1921-1971) was an African American UU who was executive director of the National Urban League and an activist in the civil rights movement. James Reeb (1927-1965) was a white UU minister who was killed in Selma, Alabama, while supporting the civil rights movement there.
JUSTICE SUNDAY—Each spring, in conjunction with the Unitarian Universalist Service Committee, UU congregations nationwide stand together, and set aside one Sunday for worship and education focused on one pressing human rights issue.
YOUTH SUNDAY—variable. This service is often led by the youth of the congregation (adolescent age). They may plan it with their our Worship Team and Religious Education advisors
MCUUF Birthday Party - On June 4, 1987 the Mid Columbia Unitarian Universalist Fellowship was officially recognized as a non-profit by the State of Washington. On or around this date each year, our Fellowship remembers our history and celebrates with an all Fellowship birthday party!
SPRING EQUINOX – usually in March. Spring themes, including: lengthening of the days; nature coming to life again; joy; hopefulness; reawakening to ourselves after a long winter.
PASSOVER SEDER—variable. Passover (Pesach) is the most commonly celebrated holiday among Jews. It lasts for seven days. The primary observances of the holiday are related to the Exodus from Egypt after generations of slavery. This story is told in Exodus, Ch. 1-15; many of the Passover observances are instituted in Chs. 12-15. On the first two nights of Passover, the Seder meal is eaten. Many of the customs and traditions of the Seder are observed.
CANVASS SUNDAY—usually sometime in early Spring. This service is often coordinated with our Board of Trustees Stewardship committee, to include some of the concepts that the congregation is focusing on that year. Themes include: stewardship of the community; giving of our Time, Talent and Treasure as spiritual practice; abundance/scarcity; valuing what we say is important to us; the role of money in our lives; giving/receiving; Luke 12:34: "where your treasure is, there your heart will be also."
EASTER – variable Spring date. The resurrection theme of the holiday is often more metaphorical than literal. Many kinds of resurrection can be emphasized: rebirth of nature; resurrecting dreams and hopes; resurrecting dead relationships. In a general sense, the ultimate triumph of life over death.
EARTH DAY, April 22, 2008— Now that Global Warming is recognized as more than "An Inconvenient Truth" Unitarian Universalism's seventh principle: "Respect for the interdependent web of all existence of which we are a part" makes this a day to celebrate religiously. Themes can include: earth-centered spirituality; connecting to the divine through nature; care taking of the environment; the interdependent web. Living our Seventh Principle.
MOTHER'S DAY – second Sunday of May. In Unitarian Universalist congregations, this day has increasingly taken on a sense of being a day to mark the contributions of all women.
MEMORIAL DAY—the Sunday before the last Monday in May. It is an important occasion to memorialize loved ones who have been lost, in war or in other ways. Themes can include: remembering people who have died; the power of memory; ritualizing our memories; gratitude for those who have gone before us; the cost of war.
FLOWER COMMUNION – Variable spring date, often sometime in early June. The following is quoted from an essay on the service, written by Reginald Zottoli. The Flower communion service was created by Norbert Capek (1870- 1942), who founded the Unitarian Church in Czechoslovakia. He introduced this special service to that church on June 4, 1923. The service was brought to the United States in 1940 and introduced to the members of First Parish in Cambridge, Massachusetts by Dr. Capek's wife, Maja V. Capek. In the service, people were asked to bring a flower of their choice and place them in vases or baskets. Dr. Capek then said a prayer, after which he walked over and consecrated the flowers while the congregation stood. After the service, as people left the church, they went to the vase and each took a flower other than the one that they had brought. The significance of the flower communion is that as no two flowers are alike, so no two people are alike, yet each has a contribution to make. Together the different flowers form a beautiful bouquet. By exchanging flowers, we show our willingness to walk together in our search for truth, disregarding all that might divide us. Each person takes home a flower brought by someone else - thus symbolizing our shared celebration in community.
COMING OF AGE—usually in late Spring. This service is often a culmination of a coming of age program that 8th graders have been participating in for the year The youth, their mentors, and the program teachers often come before the congregation for recognition.
FATHER'S DAY —third Sunday in June. A time to celebrate the sacred vocation of fatherhood and the larger themes of paternal figures in our lives.
THE SUMMER SOLSTICE – Sometime in June. The longest day of the year. Summer themes, including: warmth; beauty; abundant life of nature; slowing down; taking time to appreciate beauty; vacation.
LABOR DAY (First Monday in September). The Sunday of this long weekend is a good occasion to reflect on the themes of vocation and those who work at jobs that allow us to receive goods and services. Also appropriate for themes of economic justice.