Holidays and Traditions
Our biennial, medieval celebration of the winter solstice returns every other year with period costumes, music, dance, drama, magic and mayhem!
Next occurrence: December 2016.
The medieval pageant known as Yuletide Revels, is presented every other year. UUSS members write, direct and perform in the elaborate production featuring a magician, mummers, Morris dancers, the UUSS choirs and a brass quartet.
The mummers’ play touches on themes of the season with humor and drama, and it is interspersed with choral and instrumental music, dancing, and magic.
The audience is encouraged to wear costumes appropriate for the festivities. There is usually a suggested donation. Prior to the program, there is special entertainment by a local juggler and the audience can stay after the program for the Wassayl Bolle & Cookyes.
Water Communion and Flower Communion
Unitarian Universalists have some holiday rituals that are unique to our faith: Water Communion and the Flower Communion are two. Both holidays are ceremonies that celebrate our Unitarian Universalist community and the importance of each individual’s unique contributions to that community.
The Sunday following Labor Day, we enjoy the Water Ceremony, which is our tradition on Resumption Sunday, when we return to our usual schedule from the summer. Families and individuals save a small vial of water collected at the places that are meaningful to them. All these waters are poured into a common bowl. It symbolizes our coming back to our church community, renewed and refreshed, and our shared faith coming from many different sources.
In the spring, sometimes at Easter, we celebrate our Flower Communion. In this ceremony, members of the congregation bring a flower to the Sunday service. Upon entering the sanctuary, each person places his or her flower on the altar or in a shared vase. The sermon usually reflects upon the flowers’ symbolism. At the end of the service, each person brings home a flower other than the one that he or she brought.
The flower communion reminds us 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, which is our community.
The Flower Communion service was originally created in 1923 by Unitarian minister Norbert Capek, who founded the Unitarian Church in Czechoslovakia. The service was later brought to the United States by his wife, Maya.
Every year, our youth groups present one or more Sunday services, much anticipated by the adults in the congregation.
Coming of Age
The year before students enter the Senior (high school) Youth Group, the Religious Education curriculum includes study of other faith traditions and practices, including attending several religious services. This leads to examination, with a mentor, of the student’s own beliefs and ultimately results in a written Credo. At the end of this process they present a Sunday service for the congregation, in which some of the students read their Credo. We are always amazed and inspired.
Senior Youth Service, with Bridging Ceremony
Every May, the Senior Youth group plans and puts on a Sunday service. They choose a theme and several members write and present ‘sermonettes.’ Music is usually by members of the group, and the graduating seniors are introduced by a younger member of the group. Then those who will be graduating are recognized in a ceremony “Bridging” their time as UU youth to their future as adults. We send them off with a few gifts, including a chalice, a thorny rose symbolizing the vagaries of adult life, and a pair of gardening gloves — the tools with which they can deal with those thorns. Many members (not just the proud parents!) remember this as their favorite service of the church year.
Reports on service projects
In the last few years, members of our congregation, both youth and adults, have taken trips for the purpose of performing social action service. Examples are to work with Safe Passage, helping the children of the poorest residents of Guatemala City, Guatemala (workers and residents at the dump); and to help rebuild homes, churches, and other institutions in New Orleans and the gulf coast following hurricane Katrina. A report to the congregation brings satisfaction and pride to those who did not travel, but supported the trip in fundraisers and many other ways.
Poetry lovers of all ages join the annual UUSS Poetry Service, our tradition for the Sunday after Christmas.
This service has members reading original poems or sharing the writings of their favorite poets. Appropriate music is included. All are welcome to participate as space permits. Last year we had 14 talented poets and readers ranging from 7 year olds to Octogenarians. If you would like to read, please contact Lisa Temoshok.
–by Edwin Markham
He drew a circle that shut me out–
Heretic, a rebel, a thing to flout.
But Love and I had the wit to win:
We drew a circle that took him in!