Holidays and Traditions
As Unitarian Universalists, we honor and celebrate a variety of religious and secular holidays and traditions reflecting the six sources of our faith. At the Boise Unitarian Universalist Fellowship, we celebrate Christian holidays like Christmas and Easter, Jewish holidays like Passover, and those of other traditions like Pagan Winter Solstice, among others.
In addition to religious holidays, we may also honor cultural holidays such as Earth Day, Pride, Martin Luther King Jr. Day, Labor Day, Dia de los Muertos, or Thanksgiving. Our holiday services use the stories and traditions creatively, calling us to our deeper humanity and our commitment to the good.
Unitarian Universalism has also developed unique rituals and traditions of its own — like Water Communion, Flower Communion, Coming of Age, and Bridging.
For Water Communion, members bring to the service a small amount of water from a place that is special to them. During the appointed time in the service, one by one people pour their water together into larger vessels, combining all our collective water into one source. It is then blessed by the congregation, sterilized, and kept to be used as our “holy water” in child dedications and other blessing ceremonies throughout the year. We have 30+ years of “holy water” stored! Water Communion is an all-ages service held on the first Sunday of the program year (the second Sunday in September).
The Flower Communion is a multigenerational annual ritual done in the spring that celebrates beauty, human uniqueness, diversity, and community. In this ceremony, everyone in the congregation brings a flower. Each person places their flower on the altar in a shared vase. The congregation and minister bless the flowers, and they are redistributed. Each person takes home a different flower than the one they brought. Flower Communion is held on the first Sunday each June, the final Sunday of our program year.
The Apple Communion is a multigenerational celebration of community, families worship together with story, song and spirit! We’ll enjoy our second annual Apple Communion Ritual, sharing in the fruits of the season in sacred space. Rev. Sara introduced the Apple Communion to our fellowship in 2015. Apple Communion is held on the third Sunday in November.
For Fire Communion many Unitarian Universalist congregations hold a ritual to bid farewell to the old year, and to release it. In the words of Rev. Elizabeth Harding, “The fire communion separates the end of the year from the beginning, helping us to put in perspective the joys and sorrows, the changes and transitions, the ups and downs of the year. It’s a half-way point in our church year, but a celebration of the outside calendar’s year’s end and year’s beginning.” In a ceremony of the burning bowl, people are invited to write down write down words, or a phrase, to sum up what they wish to release before entering the new year. They then come forward to burn that piece of paper. Fire Communion is held on the first Sunday in January.
We honor our middle school youth with a Coming of Age ceremony in the spring every other year. They attend a year-long curriculum helping them to learn more about Unitarian Universalism and articulate their own beliefs. Then we conduct a ceremony which usually features the youth reading their personal faith statements to the congregation. This cohort of youth then makes a pilgrimage to Boston, MA to visit our association’s headquarters, explore Unitarian history, visit some of our oldest churches, see the sights and take in a Red Sox game.
Each spring, we hold a Bridging ceremony to celebrate and congratulate our high school graduates We mark their transition from youth to young adulthood. This ritual focuses on maintaining the graduates’ connections to Unitarian Universalism as they become adults.
Throughout the year we hold Child Dedication ceremonies to welcome new additions into our congregation. This special ritual takes place during our regular Sunday morning services throughout the year and is officiated by our minister and our Director of Religious Education. Together, they craft a special ritual of blessing, affirmation, and welcome that involve both the family and the full congregation.
Check out our Upcoming Services for more information about services in the month ahead.
For resources and information to help you celebrate holidays, please visit our UU Worship Web for readings, stories, sermons and other great resources.