08 February 2011

Diversity in Unity, Pt. II

How does the previous post fit with practicing the Church Year in our local congregations and homes?

When you observe the church year in your home, keep the unity of the seasons.  Observe Advent, Christmas, Epiphany, Lent, Easter, Pentecost (Sunday mornings will make a lot more sense if you do).  Observe the Saint days as outlined in the Lutheran Service Book (or your own tradition's sanctoral calendar).  But then think about family and local observances.  Some ideas:

1. Favorite saints of your region.  We are not Swedish, but our city is (was?) and there are tons of St. Lucia Day celebrations in December.  So we celebrate St. Lucia Day.  Neighborhoods in Chicago have Polish saint festivals (and of course, there's the whole St. Patrick's Day fiasco).  If a certain ethnicity is prominent in your town's history, think about joining in saint celebrations (within orthodox reason, of course).

2. Baptismal Birthdays. Celebrate the anniversary of being born again.  We have a small celebration after dinner (family only), and the birthday boy/girl will receive a small devotional gift (book, jewelry, picture, CD, etc.).  Concordia Publishing House has a good resource for ideas for observing baptism birthdays, and remembering our baptism in general.

3. Name Days.  Celebrate with your children their "saint day" or "name day."  You might have to do some research to find more obscure names (or use middle names!), but connecting your child with an historic, real Christian of the past is so special.  Call them by the saint name for the day (if it is their middle name, or a variation.  So call a "Trevor Stephen", Stephen for the day. Or call an Isabelle, Elizabeth for the day).  Gifting your children with an icon of their namesake is a special way for them to understand their connection to Christians who have gone before us.  If your child is named for a relative who has died in Christ, that relative was/is a Saint,.  Their "saint day" is the the day they died (the day they were born into eternity). (Thanks, Rebekah, for the ideas.)

4.  Local Christian heroes and anniversaries.  Does your church or family have a connection with brave missionaries or faithful martyrs?  Perhaps your church was the first Lutheran mission in your county or state--celebrate the day of its founding.  Although they were Baptist, my husband has ancestors who were killed by Indians for the sake of the Gospel (the father was a pastor and was trying to start a church among the natives).  We dedicate a day in our year to remember their birth into eternity. 

What unique anniversaries or festivals do you observe in your home or church?   What other ways can we, without disrupting or overshadowing or replacing the universal church's feasts and seasons, observe (or create!) local customs and traditions?


  1. We sometimes find ourselves makeshifting; for example, we only recently learned about the traditional Weckmanner for St. Martin. Before then we'd always just made grilled cheese and cut them very deliberately in half. :D

    We also try to help draw the attention of our parish to certain days. Our family arranges for real altar flowers (which our church doesn't normally have) on Gaudete and Laetare Sundays as another way of emphasizing their particular joy and beauty.

    Also, our church's spoken midweek Divine service always uses the propers for a saint or festival that falls sometime during that week.

  2. We sometimes celebrate St. David's day because that is my son's name. I understand that on March 1st the Welsh celebrate with choir festivals, leeks (we make soup) and daffodils.