Traditions and Holidays
The Sources from which Unitarian Universalism draws inspiration include:
- Direct experience of that transcending mystery and wonder, affirmed in all cultures, which moves us to a renewal of the spirit and an openness to the forces which create and uphold life;
- Words and deeds of prophetic people which challenge us to confront powers and structures of evil with justice, compassion, and the transforming power of love;
- Wisdom from the world’s religions which inspires us in our ethical and spiritual life;
- Jewish and Christian teachings which call us to respond to God’s love by loving our neighbors as ourselves;
- Humanist teachings which counsel us to heed the guidance of reason and the results of science, and warn us against idolatries of the mind and spirit;
- Spiritual teachings of Earth-centered traditions which celebrate the sacred circle of life and instruct us to live in harmony with the rhythms of nature.
You will find in our worship services traditions drawn from all of these sources, such as:
- A Christmas service composed of traditional carols and stories of the season
- Sharing from different world religions by guest speakers who are people of those faiths, such as Buddhism, Baha’i, Judaism, and Islam
- A service dedicated to the words and deeds of Martin Luther King, Jr.
- A Winter Solstice service in December to honor the shortest day of the year and traditions that ancient peoples enacted to bring the sun back
- A service about Queen Esther, whose story is the basis for the celebration of Purim in Jewish tradition
- A student-led multigenerational service teaching about the traditions of the Mexican Día de los Muertos/Day of the Dead
- A speaker talking about environmental issues in recognition of Earth Day and climate justice
- Discussion prompted by a talk about the meaning of awe and what inspires awe in each of us
- A Thanksgiving service focusing on the many gifts that planet Earth has bestowed upon us
For resources and information to help you create your own traditions and celebrate the holidays you choose, please visit the UUA’s Worship Web.
You might also experience a service planned around a tradition that is unique to Unitarian Universalism, such as:
- Water Communion or Ceremony – First used at a Unitarian Universalist worship service in the 1980s, this is a service that many UU congregations hold each year, often at the beginning of the new church year. Members each add water to a common container, symbolizing our shared faith as coming from many different sources.
- Flower Communion or Ceremony – This Unitarian Universalist tradition was created in 1923 by a Unitarian Universalist minister, Norbert Capek, in Czechoslovakia. In this tradition, everyone in the congregation brings a flower which is placed in a shared vase. This tradition celebrates beauty, diversity and community as each person selects a different flower to take home.
- Fire Communion or Ceremony – Many Unitarian Universalists honor this tradition on the first Sunday of the New Year as a ritual for bidding farewell to the old year. Congregants are invited to write down something they wish to release before entering the new year and the papers are ceremonially burned.
- Pride Sunday/Month – For decades, Unitarian Universalists have actively sided with love and supported full equality for people who are lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender and queer (LGBTQ+). This is a time to affirm and celebrate sexual diversity and gender variance.
- Canvass or Stewardship Sunday – The theme of this service is to reflect on giving as a spiritual practice and valuing what is important to us. This usually occurs a few months before the congregation’s fiscal year begins to allow members the opportunity to consider their financial support to their congregation in the next year.
- Blessing of the Animals – Many Unitarian Universalists have adopted a Catholic tradition of blessing animals and may recognize St. Francis of Assisi, a monk known for this vow of poverty and his special connection to animals. Members may bring their pets to church or photographs of their pets.