Tag Archives: winter

Making family traditions – celebrating Christmastime together – A French Christmas

Ulula is based at Rush Farm, a biodynamic farm in Worcestershire.sheep

Between March and October, Rush Farm is supported by a wonderful group of volunteers who find us through the World Wide Opportunities on Organic Farms Organisation – a movement linking volunteers with organic farmers and gfrozen-leavesrowers.

The volunteers are fondly known at the beginning of their stay at WWOOFers, but by the time we are all hugging goodbye, they have become one of the family. This means that we are now very much an international family on the Farm, as is Ulula with all its wonderful worldwide customers.

We may not be ‘together’ on the farm across the winter months (a time of ‘rest’ for the farm so no volunteers are needed), but sharing our winter traditions and memories is very special.

sunset-over-frozen-sceneOur winter family and community traditions are instilled in us when we are little, and these memories and feelings stay with us as we grow up, and we bring them into our world anew when our own little ones arrive. For us, we always decorate the Christmas tree on Christmas Eve – our German roots!

These traditions are unique to each family, region, country and each generation, and we carry them with us, whether we stay in the country of our birth, or find ourselves somewhere different. ‘Different’ brings opportunities – for both enjoying, and learning other families’ traditions. We blend them into our very own happy ever afters. Just as it should be x

My French Christmas

joyeuz-noel1st December

When I was a child, it was time to buy an advent calendar an write my letter to the Santa Claus. Now it the time to think about the gifts to offer at my close family…

 

24 December

After 5 hours drive, we arrive a little tired at my paternal grandmother. But tomorrow, all the family will be here. So I gather my strengths for the essential thing : the decoration of the Christmas treedecorating-tree… baubles, garlands…

Lucky me to have an organized sister to share this moment with me! Don’t forget the garland of lights and the star at decorated-treethe top ! – or the tradition is broken.

Some gifts will be open tonight, but we will wait for our younger cousins joy to offer the best surprises. (But sshhh! all is Father Christmas !)

25 December

Latest preparations. Ready to eat all the day ! Oysters, snails, tartines of foie gras and of salmon… oystersA lot of dead animals scroll in front of me!  

I eat some toasts – I’m vegetarian but I’m greedy too ! I really like everything but I can’t eat snails – since I learned how long we need to wait before they die – and oysters – eaten with some lemon while they are always alive…

Anyway now we are ready ! It’s the veal roast – with potatoes and beans. Children be patient – the gifts come with the dessert.

So is it now ? I have finished my plate…cheese

No, keep your plate and test the amazing « roquefort » ! Sensitive noses, outside. My father is running, he hate cheese!

But not too far, because now… Yes, I’m just waiting for this. Now it’s time to the dessert : « La bûche de Noël » ! french-pudding

Unfortunately, my grandfather, a former baker, is not with us to cook it. But we can count on the neighbour and the dessert is excellent. We open the gifts ; everybody is smiling.

This was not a vegetarian day, but I’m happy because we had interesting discussions and I played a lot with my cousins. This was a joyful day!!

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA

Sophie from France, who took this wonderful photo across Rush Farm this summer… happy memories indeed x

 

Making family traditions – celebrating Christmastime together – the countdown to Christmas Eve

Ulula is based at Rush Farm, a biodynamic farm in Worcestershire.frozen-scene

Between March and October, Rush Farm is supported by a wonderful group of volunteers who find us through the World Wide Opportunities on Organic Farms Organisation – a movement linking volunteers with organic farmers and growers.

new-calf

our December arrival

The volunteers are fondly known at the beginning of their stay at WWOOFers, but by the time we are all hugging goodbye, they have become one of the family. This means that we are now very much an international family on the Farm, as is Ulula with all its wonderful worldwide customers.

We may not be ‘together’ on the farm across the winter months (a time of ‘rest’ for the farm so no volunteers are needed), but sharing our winter traditions and memories is very special.

frozen-plantOur winter family and community traditions are instilled in us when we are little, and these memories and feelings stay with us as we grow up, and we bring them into our world anew when our own little ones arrive. For us, we always decorate the Christmas tree on Christmas Eve – our German roots!

These traditions are unique to each family, region, country and each generation, and we carry them with us, whether we stay in the country of our birth, or find ourselves somewhere different. ‘Different’ brings opportunities – for both enjoying, and learning other families’ traditions. We blend them into our very own happy ever afters. Just as it should be x

Christmas Eve in Poland (PL: Wigilia)

polish-ceThe Supper. On this special evening, we sit together with our family and have a supper of special food, singing carols (PL: kolendy) and opening Christmas gifts (dedicated only for good kids!). Gifts may be found under the Christmas tree – we can be very lucky because on 6th December we have Santa Claus and he leaves gifts under the tree, and then again on 24th Dec under the Christmas tree we have presents again – nice! 

 At first we pray together. After that, we share between each other something like communion wafer and we wish each other all the best. People are living in a hurry these days. It happens that it’s once in a year when people have time to visit their families to say warm words of love to each other. I hope this tradition will never die and become everyone’s daily “routine”. We polish-christmas-eveare lucky to have such a great people around us, and it concerns you too, guys.

Then, we eat. We eat a lot. Nobody is proud of it, but we do it anyway!! 

After hours of eating, singing, all the gifts and food, most people start to watch Home Alone. In some families they can sit without telly and talk and sing bit longer. We are going to the Church for ceremony that is on 12:00 AM – in cities that could be earlier.

Food: There are some differences between sides of Poland. The old tradition says that should be 12 dishes (but nobody I know is quite sure how to count, for example is bread a dish or not 🙂 ). Main thing is that the dishes are not with meat at all. Mostly is Fish, things are made from flour, and vege stuff.

Menu for Wigilia:

  • Beetroot soup with small raviolis with mushroom stuffing (PL: Barszcz czerwony z uszkami)beetrot-soup
  • Mushroom soup (PL: GRZYBOWA)
  • Polish dumplings (ravioli, pierogis) – with cabbage and mushroom stuffing, and common ones with potato and cottage cheese stuffing. (PL: PIEROGI)
  • Very popular are fried Carp Fish in the bread crumbs. But other fish is sometimes now used, and is cooked in different ways 
  • Second popular fish is vinegar herrings with onion apple and sour cream pierogi
  • Beverages: drink is special compote from dry fruits
  • There are always some cakes – a popular one at this time are poppy cakes

There is also a tradition that one chair & one plate by the table is empty. That means we are ready to welcome any refugees or homeless people on this day, so they might join us.

radek-and-asia

Radek and Asia, Poland x

 

 

Making family traditions – celebrating Christmastime together – the Christmas Tree

Ulula is based at Rush Farm, a biodynamic farm in Worcestershire.

frozen-scrapeBetween March and October, Rush Farm is supported by a wonderful group of volunteers who find us through the World Wide Opportunities on Organic Farms Organisation – a movement linking volunteers with organic farmers and growers.

The volunteers are fondly known at the beginning of their stay at WWOOFers, but by the time we are all hugging goodbye, they have become one of the family. This means that we are now very much an international family on the Farm, as is Ulula with all its wonderful worldwide customers.

We may not be ‘together’ on the farm across the winter months (a time of ‘rest’ for the farm so no volunteers are needed), but sharing our winter traditions and memories is very special.

frozen-walk-boots-and-flashOur winter family and community traditions are instilled in us when we are little, and these memories and feelings stay with us as we grow up, and we bring them into our world anew when our own little ones arrive.

These traditions are unique to each family, region, country and each generation, and we carry them with us, whether we are stay in the country of our birth, or find ourselves somewhere different. ‘Different’ brings opportunities – for both enjoying, and learning other families’ traditions. We blend them into our very own happy ever afters. Just as it should be x

My Christmas is always full of childhood memories. Even I’m twenty three now, we celebrate Christmas every year in the same kind of way. I love that! nativity-under-tree

Christmas to me means time to calm down and to enjoy a special time of the year with my family, the people I love.

At the holy night my dad always prepares the food, which is very special because during the year he never does. And I have to admit he makes it really really good!

The biggest moment for me is the time we all together open the door to the room with the Christmas tree.

It’s liketree magic! The whole world seems to stop for this moment.

And before we start to eat the delicious meal between harmonious candlelight we all together sing the German Christmas song ‘Oh Tannenbaum’.o-tannenbaum

Wishing you all peaceful Christmas time and good future for Ulula,

Marisa, Germany

Making family traditions – celebrating Christmastime together – in the sunshine!

Ulula is based at Rush Farm, a biodynamic farm in Worcestershire.

cows-in-the-barnBetween March and October, Rush Farm is supported by a wonderful group of volunteers who find us through the World Wide Opportunities on Organic Farms Organisation – a movement linking volunteers with organic farmers and growers.

The volunteers are fondly known at the beginning of their stay at WWOOFers, but by the time we are all hugging goodbye, they have become one of the family. This means that we are now very much an international family on the Farm, as is Ulula with all its wonderful worldwide customers.

rush-farm-2We may not be ‘together’ on the farm across the winter months (a time of ‘rest’ for the farm so no volunteers are needed), but sharing our winter traditions and memories is very special.

Our winter family and community traditions are instilled in us when we are little, and these memories and feelings stay with us as we grow up, and we bring them into our world anew when our own little ones arrive.

These traditions are unique to each family, region, country and each generation, and we carry them with us, whether we are stay in the country of our birth, or find ourselves somewhere different. ‘Different’ brings opportunities – for both enjoying, and learning other families’ traditions. We blend them into our very own happy ever afters. Just as it should be x

Christmas in the Southern Hemisphere:-

chileVery briefly, during my childhood in the nineties, my family and I would dine on Christmas eve and go to sleep only waiting to get up and open our presents the next day.

 As years passed by, we adopted the new tradition of opening presents at midnight right after Christmas eve and then play with them inside the house or on my aunt´s very big backyard, where we meet for special events.

About two Christmas ago, right after opening our presents at midnight, some people decided to start pushing someone else into the swimming pool. Many of us got soaking wet all the way from our heads to our feet!chile-animation

Believe it or not it wasn’t bad, indeed it was very refreshing. Summer nights are so hot and swimming anytime between Christmas and torrid January is always welcome. That is the number one reason why Christmas in the southern hemisphere rocks 🙂

Joaquín

Making family traditions – celebrating Christmastime together – Presepe

Ulula is based at Rush Farm, a biodynamic farm in Worcestershire.rush-farm-1

Between March and October, Rush Farm is supported by a wonderful group of volunteers who find us through the World Wide Opportunities on Organic Farms Organisation – a movement linking volunteers with organic farmers and growers.

The volunteers are fondly known at the beginning of their stay at WWOOFers, but by the time we are all hugging goodbye, they have become one of the family. This means that we are now very much an international family on the Farm, as is Ulula with all its wonderful worldwide customers.

We may not be ‘together’ on the farm across the winter months (a time of ‘rest’ for the farm so no volunteers are needed), but sharing our winter traditions and memories is very special.

farm-track-in-winterOur winter family and community traditions are instilled in us when we are little, and these memories and feelings stay with us as we grow up, and we bring them into our world anew when our own little ones arrive.

These traditions are unique to each family, region, country and each generation, and we carry them with us, whether we are stay in the country of our birth, or find ourselves somewhere different. ‘Different’ brings opportunities – for both enjoying, and learning other families’ traditions. We blend them into our very own happy ever afters. Just as it should be x

“I think the best Christmas tradition in my country is the “PRESEPE”. It means we reproduce the nativity with some figurines in wood, plastic, clay… 2008107204045_adorazione-002

The origins of the Presepe are referred to S.Francesco d’Assisi who first represented the nativity with statues of the virgin, St.Joseph, Jesus, the ox and the donkey with the magi.presepe5

Then the traditions arrived in the Kingdom of Neaples and here the Neapolitan made the most beautiful presepe in the world. presepe2-002

There is a street in Neaples called S. Gregorio Armeno in which every year the artisans show their statues of all the types: from the classic to the political satire or religious satire. thmwvw1mv3-presThere are also statues of actors and politicians such as Merkel, Berlusconi, Renzi and so on. It’s a way to rant some events happened during the year!

For families, the tradition is that we can build our Presepe in our own homes after the 8th of December. Here are some photos of my own presepe:

presepe4

 

presepe1

 

presepe

In each family the tradition in the Christmas eve is the following: after having the dinner, the oldest member of the family (in many cases the grandmother), take the statues of Jesus and make a procession with the children following her and then the adults. She sings some traditional songs and is in this tradition that the children learn the Christmas songs.

Arriving near the Presepe the grandmother give the statue to the littlest member of the familypresepe2 and she or he has to put it in the presepe, then all together people pray and only after this moment we exchange gifts.

A very very very big hug to my English family.
Michaelangelo

 

Making family traditions – celebrating Christmastime together – Andrzejki

Ulula is based at Rush Farm, a biodynamic farm in Worcestershire.rush-farm-2

The farm has been a wonderful means of meeting and making new friends from across the world through the splendid WWOOFer volunteers (World Wide Opportunities on Organic Farms), who have come from around the world to help us on the farm and soon become one of the family. This means that we now feel very much that we are an international family on the farm; as international as our Ulula family of wonderful worldwide customers 🙂

We may not be ‘together’ on the farm across the winter months (a time of rest for the farm so no volunteers are needed), but sharing our winter traditions and memories is very special.

rush-farmOur winter family and community traditions are instilled in us when we are little, and these memories and feelings stay with us as we grow up, and we bring them into our world anew when our own little ones arrive.

These traditions are unique to each family, region, country and each generation, and we carry them with us, whether we are stay in the country of our birth, or find ourselves somewhere different. ‘Different’ brings opportunities – for both enjoying, and learning other families’ traditions. We blend them into our very own happy ever afters. Just as it should be x

Over the next few weeks we will share some of our international farm family’s memories of the Advent and Christmas period:

Andrzejki – Poland (St. Andrew’s Day)

On the last night of November we are celebrating Andrzejki (Poland – St. Andrew’s Day). This year it’s celebrated on the night between 29 and 30 November. 

party-glitter-ballAndrzejki is the last party before advent, and like any other Polish celebration, there is a feast with loads of food and drink and more… because this is the last day before lent (Christmas Lent) so people eat and drink as much as they can! The next opportunity will be on 26th December! Andrzejki is quite an awesome party: you want to party hard, so you could survive nearly one month without any!

andrzejki-2013

A part of this celebration on Andrzejki is that this is the night of rituals and fortune foretold (mainly about our relationships). The most popular tradition is that you melt candle wax and put the melted wax through the eye of a key, then cool the wax in a bowl of water. The shape you get can tell you the future – you’re checking that shape using a light and watching the shadow on a wall – and based on that shape you are foretold something about your future partner.

wax

Happy Andrzejki to us all x

radek-and-asia

With love from Radek and Asia… our fortune telling worked beautifully x

 

 

Making family traditions – celebrating Advent together

We light one candle shining bright
Upon this Holy Advent night
Fill our hearts with loving might
Lead us to Christmas Day’s brilliant light!

candle-2

This Sunday marks the first Sunday of Advent, or as we know it in the family, ‘gnomie’s advent’.

When we were little we would wake up on this Sunday morning to discover a  wonderful new world had arrived in front of our eyes – sometimes on a table top, sometimes set on a shelf within a book case. With swathes of cloth making a beautiful sky and a mossy grass seat for the lovingly handmade gnomes our wonderful mum had created for us, the Gnomes were set at work amongst our earths treasures of crystal and rock. It was a very special discovery to have as a little one, and it has been such a precious gift that we have been able to pass onto our little ones now that they are looking around their world in wonder and delight.waldrof-winter-nature-table-crystal-gnome

So this weekend let’s celebrate all things in our earthly Gnome realm! Here’s a song to march to together as we take a walk this weekend looking for other special rocks and stones to add to your Advent display:

gnome

March of the Gnomes
Ho, ho, ho, we gnomes all walk in a row (march in a circle)
Ho, ho, ho, we gnomes all walk in a row
We hammer and knock the stone and the rock (use arms to hammer)
Ho ho ho ho ho ho ho!
We hammer and knock the stone and the rock
Ho ho ho ho ho ho ho!

 

There are some really beautiful gnomes available to buy these days, with so many skilled crafty people about, but if we want to have a go for ourselves, there is a wonderful tutorial for a felted gnome here: http://www.lauraleeburch.com/2010/11/needle-felted-gnome-ornaments-tutorial/

gnomes-1-e-450x299

What else may we do to celebrate this first Advent? We are lucky enough here in the midlands to be close to a German Market which has become part of our Advent family traditions, and of course, as the children become a little older, and more outward facing and interested in our extended friends and family across the world, our family traditions shift, become added to and enriched with our experiences.

When we were fortunate enough to visit the historic city of Krakow this summer, we also learntkrakow_advent_market about the way that Advent is celebrated here too, and it made us want to be there!  On the first Sunday of Advent, the beautiful city square “Rynek” gets decorated with fir boughs, garlands, Christmas trees, and twinkling lights and booths are set up for their Christmas Market.

So, after a visit to the local Christmas market what next? Of course! The Advent Spiral.

Last year full of cold and poorly family we made a beautiful spiral out of cloths on the snug floor, but the year before we were able to meet with friends and sing together as the children young and old walked towards the Christmas light.

advent-spiral

Looking ahead in our family Advent picture the gnomies will be joined by their friends the mermaids and water fairies, then the butterflies and fairies of light and air, and finally the fire fairies warm and bright.

What are your Advent family traditions? Do share! Wishing us all a very happy Gnomie Advent x

Making family traditions – celebrating Martinmas together

lantern-walkBefore our little ones came along, we’d best confess that Martinmas wasn’t a part of our lives, but being invited to be a part of first the story, and then the singing as we strode out on our Lantern Walk at their kindi that first November was wonderful! We discovered this amazing opportunity to be together under the stars, singing with our lanterns. How fabulous!

It has now become a family tradition for us to celebrate this special day – we sometimes make new lanterns, and sometimes we use last year’s… we always make sure we have one each of course! The anticipation of waiting for dusk to fall and getting our wellies on to walk is wonderful!

Sometimes we walk as an extended family group, and one year when ill health restricted how far we could go, there were just the two of us and we wandered along the pavement beside our home singing away together!lantern-walk-drawing

We had never made a relationship with what Martinmas actually is, but have enjoyed enormously learning about it for this blog! Martinmas is on November 11th, and is a wonderful festival.  “This day celebrates the burial of St Martin of Tours (316-397 AD) who devoted much of his life to establishing Christianity in France, and became one of her patron saints.”*

Many of you will perhaps know the story he was most famous for – that of meeting a poor beggar at the city gate, who was shivering in the cold.  Martin drew his sword and cut his own cloak in two and gave one half to the beggar.  Legend has it that Christ appeared to Martin in a dream the following night dressed in the piece of cloak Martin had cut.

“Martin’s half cloak brought hope and comfort to the beggar – his compassionate gesture may warm us also, and protect us from wintry despair.”*

gnomes-with-lanterns

To celebrate Martinmas, we carry lanterns, walking together, singing, as a symbol of the small light we can shine into the dark wintery world. When we make our paper lanterns, we are making a protection for the flame that joined us and began to shine for us at Michaelmas. Our lantern light may be only one small, fragile light, but each and every light “brings relief to the darkness”*.

Here are our own two favourite Lantern Walk Songs:

dsc08945I go outside with my lantern: A Lantern Walk Song
I go outside with my lantern, my lantern goes with me.
Above the stars are shining bright, down here on Earth shine we.
The cock does crow, the cat meows, la bimmel, la bammel, la boom.
‘Neath heaven’s dome till we go home, la bimmel, la bammel, la boom.

I go outside with my lantern, my lantern goes with me.
Above the stars are shining bright, down here on Earth shine we.
So shine your light through the still dark night, la bimmel, la bammel, la boom
‘Neath heaven’s dome till we go home, la bimmel, la bammel, la boom.

Glimmer, lantern, glimmer: A Lantern Walk Songdsc08957
Glimmer, lantern, glimmer.
Little stars a-shimmer.
Over meadow, moor and dale.
Flitter, flutter, elfin veil.
Pee-wit, pee-wit, tikka-tikka-tik.
Rucoo, rucoo.

Glimmer, lantern, glimmer.
Little stars a-shimmer.
Over rock and stock and stone.
Wandering, skipping, little gnome.
Pee-wit, pee-wit, tikka-tikka-tik.
Rucoo, rucoo.

lanternIf you want to learn the tunes, there are wonderful video clips here:
http://astorytellingofcrows.blogspot.co.uk/search/label/lantern%20walk%20songs

A beautiful story which could be told through perhaps a puppet show or simply by being told to listening ears before your lantern walk can be found here:
http://www.waldorflibrary.org/images/stories/Journal_Articles/GW3808.pdf

All Year Round includes instructions and patterns for three different lanterns, or these sites also have wonderful suggestions for your family lanterns: http://lusaorganics.typepad.com/clean/2011/10/how-to-make-paper-lanterns.html

Which ever songs you sing, and wherever your lantern walk takes you, have a very happy Martinmas!

*All Year Round: Ann Druitt, Christine Fynes-Clinton, Marije Rowling

Making family traditions – celebrating Bonfire Night together

“Remember remember the fifth of November,bonfire
Gunpowder, treason and plot.
I see no reason why gunpowder treason,
Should ever be forgot.” Anon

The sorry-old-tale of the plot to blow up the Houses of Parliament  in 1605 has been well preserved in our British folklore. It is fun to find ourselves teaching our little ones the poem, and sharing how we celebrated this day when we were little – because each family has their own way to celebrate together, and we share these ‘traditions’ when we share our memories.

This celebration also gives us a wonderful reason for a family bonfire and the sparkles of fireworks that brighten the night sky. The perfect time for us to say together this wonderful poem:

Fireworks Nightfirework
Who is drawing pictures on the black night sky?
Swirls of red and yellow up so high, so high?
Noisy cracks and bangs make the babies cry.
Who is drawing pictures on the black night sky?
 Julie Tonkin

 

The ritual of a ‘celebration fire’ actually stems back of course from pagan times – the key moments of the year such as the transitional moments of spring and autumn were celebrated with a fire, and even now, most of us love the occasion of a bonfire – flames can be so mesmerising and heartening to watch, and of course, making the bonfire is such a special act for the whole family to be a part of. A favourite song of ours to sing when we are making is bonfire is:

Heave and heave-ho**bonfire

Dray the branches to the heap,
To the heap, to the heap.
Drag the branches to the heap,
Heave and heave-ho.

Pile them high and stack them steep,
Stack them steep, stack them steep.
Pile them high and stack them steep,
Heave and heave-ho.

Pack the spaces strong and firm,
Strong and firm, strong and firm.
Pack the spaces strong and firm,
Heave and heave-ho.

Stand well back, it’s time to burn,
Time to burn, time to burn.
Stand well back, it’s time to burn,
Heave and heave-ho.

When we were little, in our family, we would enbaked-potsjoy the bonfire, the sparks, the flames, dancing fire fairies, and of course, the being out late!! Then our parents would cook baked potatoes in the embers, wrapped in tin foil – delicious!

Bonfires are a wonderful opportunity for little ones to ‘stay up late’ – and this time with permission! To be out under the night sky is very special, able to gaze at the stars above, and enjoy the fire fairies amongst the flames of the fire.

And, of course, it doesn’t have to be a large the-gnomes-around-the-bonfirebonfire.

A small fire for your family of gnomes is perfect, especially if together you have been gathering collecting-for-autumntreasures collected in your garden and on your autumn walks, which can be brought together to create a wonderful way to celebrate the end of Autumn; A Gnomes’ bonfire party*!

To create a Gnomes’ Bonfire Party “prepare a small fire… and allow it to establish a good bed of hot embers. waiting-for-the-conker-to-pop

Seat all the Autumn Garden gnomes comfortably at a suitable distance from the fire and then gather every pod, leaf, cone and other scrap from the Autumn Garden that the gnomes have not been able to use, and feed them into the fire one by one.

They will each burn in an individual way – some with a bright flare, some with a crackle, some with a shower of golden sparks. (Chestnuts and acorns that have not been pierced with a knife may explode, so be sure the fire is guarded.) Take time to enjoy each ‘firework’, but leave the pine cones until last – if the conditions are right and they are undisturbed, they might turn to gold before your very eyes!”

And for the Gnomes?? Perhaps a feast as a rcakeeward for all their hard work…

 

…but be quick! It will soon be gone!its-going-fast

 

 

 

 

bonfire-gnome

 

However you celebrate this night together, happy Bonfire Night!

 

 

 

 

*All Year Round: Ann Druitt, Christine Fynes-Clinton, Marije Rowling   ** Julie Tonkin, and Candy Verney – adapted from a traditional song

Making family traditions – celebrating Halloween together

Once September has passed, and we are heading towards Halloween, it is so easy to feel that the colder, dark days are dragging us down into our own forthlbtu9xywm of sleepy hibernation – the warm cosy bed in the morning is always harder to leave in October, and is Halloween really anything that we can celebrate as a family together anyway?

It was wonderful to discover through our reading that Halloween is also the Eve of Samhain, a pagan celebration of the New Year – an especially significant time, the Earth Goddess pictured as the Old Wise Woman who stands at the dying of the old year, on the threshold of the new*. What a wonderful re-frame of our year. No more might we feel that the winter is the last season of the year, and time to ‘survive’ until the spring, or that Halloween is something to avoid.

Perhaps then the trick is the sense we have grown up with that Halloween becoming something of a commercialised moment in the year, and the treat is that it is actually our doorway through to wonder and delight of what is to come!

Despite the costumes and frightening masks in the shops, marking the day Halloween does give us a moment in time to look towards, and prepare for, because even when your little ones are tiny, starting your family traditions – forming them, creating them, allowing them to develop around and for your family are all very wonderful exciting times.

Pumpkin carving is as simply or elaborate as your carving skills can make it; bringing the light into your home amongst the dark and cold eautumnleavespumpkincarvingpatternvening is a very special, meditative craft that you can do together as a family, or when the children as a little younger, you can make the magic appear. Allowing those pumpkins to shine out in the cold evening is a wonderful beacon.

When my little one was still only one, we carved our pumpkin and lit it on our nature table in our sitting room, and as she came in from the kitchen the sense of wonder and delight was so gratifying. She couldn’t have been more amazed, and we couldn’t have felt more pleased!

Halloween is a perfect time for a family story around the lit pumpkin. There is a wonderful story about The Little Hobgoblin: A Halloween Story: http://www.waldorfhomeschoolers.com/the-little-hobgoblin

Cooking together to make biscuits cut and iced into the shape of pumpkins or making a pumpkin soup out of the inside of your carved pumpkin are both activities that you can do together to allow the moment to be recognised and celebrated. It is a special day, and can be acknowledged in such small ways, but your little ones, they notice the feelings, and it becomes something they look forward to, year after year – however old and sophisticated they become!

It is always wonderful to focus on the animals and plants at this time of year too – noticing the squirrel tucking away the nuts for her long winter, and the leaves changing colour. There are things to notice in the garden too – seeing the garden plants fold back down into the earth; raking up the leaves for the compost heap. To us these are chores perhaps, but for our little ones, who remind us really of the wonder of life, these acts, these ‘jobs’, help us notice and appreciate the passing of the year, and the rhythms of our world around us.

The story of the enormous Turnip is always wonderful to tell as a story or as a puppet show, and even to perform together. We have always rather felt that if they had only asked the gnomes if they might pull the turnip, it would have been a lot easier… but then, ease is not the point of the story! http://www.outoftheark.co.uk/ext/pdfs/ET%20script%20for%20easy-reading.pdf

There are so manthe-root-children-1y wonderful stories, poems and songs to tell and share as we notice the leaves crunching under our feet, or when we think about the gnomes and ‘root children’ who carry the flowers, animals and seeds back to mother earth, to care for them until the earth is warm enough again for them. If you don’t know Sibylle Von Olfers Story, it is a wonderfthe-root-childrenul book, and she is a wonderful author.  https://www.florisbooks.co.uk/book/Sibylle-von-Olfers/Story+of+the+Root+Children/9780863151064

*All Year Round: Ann Druitt, Christine Fynes-Clinton, Marije Rowling

However you and your family mark this day, happy planning, and happy new year 😉