Tuesday, December 14, 2010

Let's Talk Traditions!

Welcome to the December Carnival of Natural Parenting: Let's Talk Traditions

This post was written for inclusion in the monthly Carnival of Natural Parenting hosted by Code Name: Mama and Hobo Mama.

Please read to the end to find a list of links to the other carnival participants.

This is my son's first year, and he just celebrated his first (secular) Thanksgiving. It was not a "typical one" for us (we visited two different Thanksgiving feasts, not hosting our own), and it started me thinking- what traditions do I want to have for my newly formed family? Now is the time to start, so we can establish these rituals for a lifetime.

My partner and I have already made a commitment to celebrate and mark the wheel of the year with our son, as we both feel that turning the wheel, as a community, ties us to one another, the land and its natural cycles, and the Gods. That is what being a Witch is all about, yes? But each sabbat has its own mythos and associated traditions. (Many of these rituals will seem familiar to people raised as or practicing Christianity, as most of the rituals around Christmas, Halloween, and Easter come from pagan origins.)

For Yule, the sabbat on the horizon, we celebrate the birth of the sun/son. We burn a Yule log, stay up all night (sound like midnight mass, anyone?) and celebrate the longest night of the year. We have a tree that we decorate, and we string lights and place candles everywhere to celebrate the return of the light. We exchange gifts. We sing songs. We bake and cook and feast. We decorate with evergreen, holly, and mistletoe. This year, Yule falls on a lunar eclipse, so we will be incorporating that into our ritual, to be sure!

I loved my family of origin's traditions at this time of year (under the guise of Christmas, as I was raised what I call "secular christian") and hope to start some of these traditions as my own. My mother was great at establishing honored traditions that I hope to continue with my family.

My most beloved thing this time of year was decorating the tree: my mother made it a point to buy or make each of us children ornaments that commemorated something that happened to us that particular year: piano lessons, getting pet birds, breaking my leg sledding, etc. Then she would write our names and the year on the bottom. Each year, we would pull the ornaments out, one at a time, and remember and tell stories about that year: "Remember when we thought my girl finch was a boy and my boy finch was a girl- until he laid an egg!" and laugh and have a good time slowly decorating the tree. Included in our ornament melange were also ornaments that we had made in scouts and at school. I still have a snowman ornament that I painted that has a big bite taken out of it. My littlest sister thought it was a cookie!

I want Rowan to have this tradition, and when he is older, he will have a box of ornaments to remember with, just like his mom! I also want to bake cookies with him, have people over, have a fire with hot cocoa and mulled cider, tell stories, sing songs, and stay up all night. Perhaps he can host a Yule sleepover when he gets older- and stay up all night with his friends.

Ostara, by Helena Nelson Reed
As for other traditions, Ostara has bunnies and eggs as symbols of budding fertility- so egg hunts and chocolate bunnies are in order! We head up to Wolf Creek sanctuary each Beltaine to dance around the Maypole with kin. Mabon is the witches' Thanksgiving feast. And we plan on creating all sorts of special traditions around Midsummer and Imbolg as well. Birthdays always deserve a party and I hope to get Rowan's help with themes and ideas each year- it IS a celebration of him, after all!

Tell me how you celebrate! What traditions do you have in your family- whether around holidays or not?


Carnival of Natural Parenting -- Hobo Mama and Code Name: MamaVisit Code Name: Mama and Hobo Mama to find out how you can participate in the next Carnival of Natural Parenting!

Please take time to read the submissions by the other carnival participants:


  1. I like that your ornaments all had a story to go with them. What fun for your family!

    Found you via the Carnival.

  2. I just sent your Yule ideas to my husband - I love that they are tied to nature. Thanks so much for sharing these!

  3. First, I love that your daughter's name is Ostara. It's gorgeous! Also, your traditions are so cool! Thanks for sharing them with us!

  4. I love your description of the ways that the ornaments triggered story telling. This so vividly illustrates the ways that traditions help us link to the past. (And pulls me back to my own childhood tree decorating.)

    I also admire your commitment to honouring the wheel. When my babies were small, I was still agnostic, and I was reluctant to talk about this sort of thing, because it embarrassed me. Now I'm embarrassed that I was embarrassed (if you see what I mean). I'll be following you. :)

  5. I share the ornament tradition with you and am continuing it with my sons. It's a lovely tradition!
    We celebrate Yule as well, thought it is new to me. I love how Paganism honors the Earth. My spirituality is deeply rooted in nature so I draw a lot from it. I'll be following you to learn more about the other holidays that I am not as familiar with. Thank you!!

  6. What a lovely celebration your Yule sounds like. I would love to come over and experience it firsthand! :)

    I love your mother's ornament idea. Ornaments in my family were made by my mom before I was born, and ornaments in Sam's family were bought commercially and just related to what people liked (butterflies, dolls, etc.) — no real meaning. We've both been sort of anti-ornament collecting for that reason. But the idea of having stories attached and retelling them each year is beautiful.

  7. Your traditions sound wonderful. Thank you, too, for reminding us that a lot of the "Christian" traditions actually originated a long time before Christianity.

  8. Thanks everyone for stopping by from the blog carnival. It's always nice to hear from other natural parenting folk. I am so excited to start all sorts of traditions with Rowan, and will be blogging about them here as they come up!



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