Know your symbols & traditions. Part 3 in a series.

Jen Louden started a conversation over at her Comfort Cafe about simplifying the holidays. When I began reflecting on how I’ve done that, it turned out to be more than a quick forum reply. Plus, I think it’s a great question. So, this week on the blog, it’s all about…

How I restored magic to the holiday season. [part 3 of 6]

If you’re just joining us…
Magic-Restoration Step #1: Don’t pay attention to the count-down.
Magic-Restoration Step #2: It’s a season, not a day.

Know your symbols and traditions.

Somehow, deciding to celebrate a season of holidays allowed me to better pick and choose from all the symbols and traditions out there. By which I don’t mean I became a fundamentalist. In choosing a less secular celebration, I wasn’t inclined to give up decorating a Christmas tree because of its pagan origins, for example. It was just that in choosing what I wanted to honor, it was then much easier to select only those symbols and traditions that fit. More unexpectedly led to less.

In my research I discovered both a wider range of ways to mark the season than I was familiar with and background information that brought some of the magic back to traditions that had lost their meaning. (Again, hat-tip to Waverly.)

Magic-Restoration Step #3

Don’t just go through the motions. Educate yourself about the origins of the symbols and traditions you are using. Learn how other cultures celebrate this holiday. Get curious. Get anthropological. Decide which symbols and traditions have genuine meaning for you, which enhance your experience and which don’t. Then choose the best and leave the rest.

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Not so keen on the tradition of new year’s resolutions? Me neither. Join me and Laura Burkey to learn the better alternative that actually works. > fun and engaging tele-workshop December 3

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4 Responses to “Know your symbols & traditions. Part 3 in a series.”

  1. 1 Jennifer Hofmann November 18, 2009 at 9:28 am

    This is great advice. It sparks in me a recognition of the process I went through this summer making rosary beads by hand out of real rose petals – the way it’s been done for centuries. In fact, using counting beads for prayer out of rose petals predates Christianity (and certainly Catholicism) for many, many hundreds of years.

    After reading Eat Pray Love, I sought to reconnect with my own tradition (which I’d abandoned at the intersection of Love and Ego about a decade back). Rosary beads fit the bill and have been becoming increasingly important to me as a tool – even if I’m not so keen on the rest of the life-squelching dogma. The depth of the tradition, the history behind it brings stability to my teetery spiritual practice. It’s good, grounding energy.

    While not related to the holidays per se, your recommendation here made me realize – A-ha! I AM doing this! And its working.

    Listen to Cairene, dear readers. She knows of what she speaks. :)

    – Jen

    • 2 Cairene November 18, 2009 at 10:31 am

      @Jen –
      “abandoned at the intersection of Love and Ego” – wow, and LOL in self-recognition, love that…
      I’ve been working on my own set of prayer beads, so I am loving that you made your own set of rosary beads from rose petals. So rich.
      And, yes! I realized after I wrote all this how much what I’m saying about this holiday applies to all celebrations and practices.
      thanks for visiting and sharing, C

  2. 3 Liz November 18, 2009 at 9:54 am


    Love this. For me the symbolism of lighting the darkness is very potent so I love cranking up the fireplace and lighting candles. This year my son is old enough I may try doing Christmas Eve dinner JUST with candlelight.

    • 4 Cairene November 18, 2009 at 10:33 am

      @Liz –
      I think I would have been all over eating in the dark as a kid. Even if he doesn’t quite get the symbolism, I say do it. It sounds lovely. And magical. oxo C

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Third Hand Works

from overwhelmed to ready for anything | organization and time management for people in their "right" minds | administrative guidance for independent creative professionals [more info]



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