Are You Rooted in Rituals?

The goblins are gone for another year but several holiday celebration events await us. With Thanksgiving only a few weeks away and 50-days until Christmas, there is much to prepare for.

I love the planning process, especially when it involves bringing seasonal rituals to life. Autumn and Winter holidays are my favorite, I think, because those were the times I travelled “back- home” in my younger years to spend precious time with my family.

What is it about rituals that add a spark to any occasion? Our fast-paced, over-scheduled life styles frequently crowd out rituals, leaving us feeling disconnected or lost. British author and ritual expert Jane Alexander says,

“Good rituals are essential to our emotional, psychological and spiritual health.”

The act of intentionally including simple ceremonies in your day may help you release (tension, anger, disappointment, etc.); heal (forgive, create, show gratitude or honor, etc.); and connect (with ourselves, family, God, etc.).

Returning to rituals strengthens the family/friendship ties across the miles or across the years. Playing “remember when” and recalling past rituals or traditions may bring barrels of laughter or buckets of tears, but it will reunite the participants as they “pass on wonderful moments of family history, part of the glue that keeps a family together.” (Hallmark Magazine, Nov-Dec 2006, “Steal this Ritual” by Lou Ann Walker.)

Several women I’ve talked with tell me their schedules are too full for rituals. I remind them, that they may be enacting a ritual without their awareness. Let me clarify:

  • A ritual is any practice or pattern of behavior regularly performed in a set manner, especially religious practices or rites.

  • A tradition is the handing down of beliefs, customs, information, etc. from generation to generation, especially by word of mouth or practice.

  • A routine is a regular procedure; habitual or methodical commonplace tasks, such as daily chores.

“Before there was written history, there were rituals. Our ancestors sought ways to understand their world, to live in harmony with its mysterious ebbs and flows.”

• No Internet, book clubs, 12-step programs

• Most rituals marked seasonal cycles and rhythms (environmental, rites of passage)

• Rituals helped “make sense” of life and brought organization to communities

• Rituals brought sense of order, comfort and belonging

––Body +Soul Magazine (year unknown), “Reviving the Ritual” by Suzanne Gerber.

My morning cup of tea while I watch the sunrise may be a daily routine, but I try to make it a special event to begin my day. I use an artsy tea cup (usually with a seasonal design). I intentionally hum while I’m brewing my tea to keep my analytical mind from rushing into the day’s tasks. Then I give myself time and permission to sip and savor the moment. Are there ways you might transition a daily drudgery into a lighter ritual?

Let’s continue this topic next week as I explore how restoring rituals may improve your health. Savor the Season . . . and this recipe:

WFAS Autumn Apple Kuchen img 1.jpg

Autumn Apple Kuchen

2 cups flour

3/4 cup sugar

1 tsp. baking soda

1 stick butter, slightly softened

1 cup milk

2 cups fresh apples (peeled and thinly sliced)

1/2 cup dried cranberries

1 tsp. ground cinnamon

  • Preheat oven to 350 degrees

  • Mix dry ingredients, except the cinnamon

  • Add the stick of butter; Mix by hand to crumb stage; Set aside 1 cup of crumb mixture

  • Add milk to remaining crumb mixture and stir thoroughly until well mixed

  • Pour into greased and floured baking dish (I use an 8x8x2 glass baking dish)

  • Spread apple slices and cranberries on top

  • Sprinkle remaining crumb mixture on top; sprinkle cinnamon onto crumb mixture

  • Bake for 30-minutes or until inserted toothpick comes out clean

  • Let cool; serve with freshly brewed coffee and top with a dollop of freshly whipped cream

Source: The Martha Society Cook Book, St. Paul Congregational Church, Shattuck, Oklahoma, 1968

*The original recipe called for a can of tart cherries as the fruit. I have used frozen blueberries or raspberries (minus the cinnamon) or sliced apples or peaches (with the cinnamon) as the fruit for this recipe. The simplicity makes it an “all season” coffee cake.

Connie PshigodaComment