ritual

ritual

April 25, 2011

Easter is overThe end of Easter in Prague, Czech Republic. (photo: Leonardo Sagnotti/Flickr, cc by-nc-nd 2.0)

In the Czech Republic, a tradition of spanking or whipping women is carried out on Easter Monday. On Easter Monday morning, it is customary for girls and women to stay at home while the boys and men, usually dressed in nicer clothing and sometimes even in kroj — traditional costume — go door to door of female relatives and/or friends, bringing greetings, singing Easter carols, demanding the right to spank the women with a special handmade whip called a pomlázka and/or splash them with cold water or perfume for good luck and fertility, and demanding “treats” (eggs, chocolate, liquor, or a peck on the cheek) as their reward.

April 24, 2011

Boys in silenceA sign hangs on the wall of a Taizé community in Burgundy, France. (photo: forteller/Flickr, cc by-nc-sa 2.0)

It is Easter week. This week, we remember the events from Thursday’s meal to Friday’s torture to Saturday’s silence and Sunday’s mystery.

Years ago, 13 years ago in fact, I fell apart. I was 22 and I had already been sick for a year. It had started with a bad flu that had never gone away. After 12 months, I was bewildered and dizzy and achy, confused with a fatigue and an illness that would take a further five years to diagnose and a total of nine years to recover from.

April 18, 2011

The religious symbolism of fasting is an act of gratitude for the life you have and the time when you can eat again.

April 05, 2011

Indian Man Celebrates "Gudi Padwa"A man dressed in elaborate costume celebrates the Maharashtrian New Year during a procession in Mumbai. (photo: Sajjad Hussain/AFP/Getty Images)

Bollywood stars took to Twitter to wish their fans Gudi Padwa, or Happy New Year. India’s vast cultural and ethnic diversity accounts for celebrations at different times and places. Grand festivals are held to celebrate the start of vasant or spring.

March 20, 2011

Holi Festival of Colors, Utah 2010 - Chalk Explosion
An explosion of color results as participants of a Holi festival in Utah throw colored chalk into the air and at each other. (photo: Jeremy Nicoll)

There’s no shortage of photos from Holi, the Hindu festival of colors, which takes place this year on Sunday, March 20th. Around the world, people celebrate the holiday by “throwing colors” at anyone who wanders by. Sometimes it’s in the form of powders, sometimes colored water, and sometimes natural dyes.

According to the BBC’s description of Holi, Ratnaval, a seventh-century Sanskrit drama, has one of the first references to the festivities:

March 12, 2011

Sign for the Abbey of Our Lady of the Holy Trinity

One day last fall, just after 3 a.m, I found myself on a country road in the high Ogden Valley near Huntsville, Utah. It was the first morning of a three-day retreat at the Abbey of Our Lady of the Holy Trinity, a Trappist-Cistercian monastery, and I was walking the half mile from the guest house to the church for Vigils, the first of seven times each day that the monks gather to chant and pray.

March 05, 2011

Baha'i Faith Facebook Page
Screen capture of the Baha’i Faith Facebook page.

Day two of fasting this year, and the egg salad on the sesame bagel was especially delicious this morning. This is the dichotomy of the Nineteen Day Fast — that while we don’t eat or drink from sunrise to sunset, the early morning meals feel more special and dinners more festive.

The Baha’i Faith has its own calendar of 19 months made up of 19 days. As in Islam, one of these months is set aside for fasting, just during the daylight hours. And much like the Islamic month of Ramadan, when it comes time for the sun to set, the evening meal feels like a party, a celebration, a time for truly giving thanks for our nourishment, be it a feast or bread and water.

February 05, 2011

Chinese New Year in SpainParading in Puerta del Sol, Spain. (photo: PepeZoom/Flickr)

One of the most important Chinese holidays is Lunar New Year or Chinese New Year. Following the lunar calendar, this year the celebration fell on Thursday, February 3rd, which is also the year of the rabbit. The rabbit is the fourth animal in the 12-year cycle of the Chinese zodiac. Images of the rabbit become part of the celebration. The theme for festivities is to spread luck and good fortune, and the rabbit (remember your lucky rabbit’s foot?) is symbolic for both.

December 25, 2010

Day 26 01/26/2010 - A Mother and Her Son
A Christmas tree stands a month after Christmas last year. Ashley, who had recently overcame thyroid cancer, kisses her son Trey, who was undergoing treatment for tuberculosis.
(photo: Fred Erlenbusch/Flickr)

December 25, 2010

Waiting for a Train
“Waiting for a Train” in Régua, Portugal (photo: Rosino/Flickr, licensed under Creative Commons)

I nearly stood up my very first client on the first day of my first job in social work. Graduate school had not prepared me for the intricacies of the scheduling system at the community health center where I was working. By the time I figured things out, I was nearly half an hour late for the appointment.

December 21, 2010

by Peg Aloi, guest contributor

When I was little, and like many kids before me, Christmas was special for many reasons that had very little to do with the birthday of baby Jesus. I loved the twinkling lights, decorating cookies, eating the savory dishes my Italian grandparents served on Christmas Eve, cutting down our tree in the forest, and singing Christmas carols accompanied by Mom on her Hammond organ. I was raised Catholic, but my parents weren’t terribly strict, and so for me Christmas was always a fairly secular experience.

December 21, 2010

Of all the lessons my children take from our family’s winter solstice celebration, this is the one I hope they remember most: even in the midst of the darkness, within you is the luminous glow that will, in perfect timing, spark the return of your joy. Nurture and honor it, always.

December 19, 2010

by Jessica Kramer, guest contributor

mom's birthday breakfast
“Mom’s birthday breakfast” (photo: Jessica Kramer/Flickr)

Christmas is almost upon us. In seeking God during this time, I have sought renewal in the darkness of winter, in the stillness in which to hear God. This fourth week of Advent brings promise of harmony, that the (often disjointed) pieces of our lives, hearts, and emotions might be joined into a single, but rich and layered, sound of joy.

December 07, 2010

by Peter A. Friedrichs, guest contributor

Waiting at Disneyland
Awaiting Tiana’s Showboat Jubilee at Disneyland. (photo: huffmans/Flickr)

Advent is a time of waiting. For Christians, it’s a time of waiting for the arrival of the Christ child. For others, Advent is a time of waiting for a hoped-for future, waiting for the time of bleakness to pass and for new joy to arrive.

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December 01, 2010

Do Christmas ham and potato latkes go together? Can Santa visit as well as Judah Maccabee?" ˜guest contributor Adena Cohen-Bearak reflects on reconciling Chanukah and Christmas.

November 28, 2010

A guest contributor reflects on how being still with life's deaths and resurrections connects her to the universe.

September 21, 2010

In seeking out others to celebrate Tashlikh, our producer wrestles with thoughts on community even when being received warmly by a new one.

September 04, 2010

A former gang member reflects on what failed to make gangs form.

August 10, 2010

A digital collage for the start of Ramadan.

March 31, 2010

A touching reflection by Mary Moos on spiritual displacement in a Roman Catholic family, finding a home in Judaism, and a better understanding of Christ during Passover.

March 12, 2010

A couple of weeks before my birthday, my mom sent me an e-mail reminding me when my “star birthday” was — March 14th, by the way — and saying she was donating to a local temple on that day so they can provide free food for the congregation. Although I’ve always been told when my star birthday was, this was the first time I went on a quest to find out what it was.

Simply put, your star birthday is your birthday using the Hindu calendar instead of the Gregorian calendar. Hindu calendars are traditionally used to derive entire individual horoscopes, which are culturally consulted for just about everything — from determining a baby’s name to finding the best wedding location (and person!)

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