Welcome the Season!

Since we are entering the holiday season I am thinking about building some of my posts around the holidaies and maybe some of my evolving ideas of a personal liturgical calendar. I seem to have needed this calendar all of my life and over the last ten years or so I have been actively and successfully pursuing it, including a thoroughly Mormon Passover and some beginning stabs at celebrating the Feast of Tabernacles.

Actually it is really hard to start new ritual type traditions—or at least it has been for me. First the collective “charter member” males in my life—husband and 5 sons, have in the past, generally rolled their eyes and acted ever so indulgent of me. However, I have discovered a secret weapon— the grandchildren. If I get them enthused their parents have more or less needed to fall into line. Fire—candles, bonfires, fireplace all are sure draws and music is also quite compelling. I must say too that my husband is now a great supporter of all of this.

One thing that defines my liturgical calendar is that I fly my ZION banner. A colleague and I commissioned identical banners. So far he has only flown his on the 24th of July. I suggested that he needs a more ambitious liturgical calendar. These banners are a robin egg blue with gold fringe. In the center is a gold beehive and the words “Holiness to the Lord” and “ZION” in gold. When the banner goes up it is a holy season for me, when it comes down, that season is over. I would be absolutely surprised if any of my neighbors have any idea what I am doing. For them the banner is probably there and not there on a pretty random schedule.

I would not want anyone to think our liturgical calendar is grander than it is. There are “Holy Days”, such as every Sabbath, and there are “High Holy Days”. However, this is all still evolving.

So this week is Thanksgiving. Many of the elements of our annual liturgical calendar diverge far from the American norm, but at Thanksgiving we find ourselves in as close of alignment with the Great American Standard as we will likely be all year. We do some or all of the following (depending on how many and who is there.)—We always have some short ritual time together before the blessing on the food. A song of Thanksgiving (from the Children’s Songbook or the Hymn Book– something that most people know), we almost always read a scripture about being thankful (Psalm 100, “The Thanksgiving Psalm” is a good choice), everyone present names a blessing or two or three of the last year. (We sometimes go around the circle or sometimes people just participate in a random way.) The person in charge then reminds all present that all good gifts come from Christ (Moroni 10:18). Placecards and decorations made by the children of the family often add to the festiveness and togetherness feeling of the day. After dinner, we linger and talk, sharing time and feelings and spirit with these people who are the most dear to us.

My banner goes up tomorrow after work and the season starts for us.

I would love to hear about your traditions as we all Welcome the Season.

11 comments for “Welcome the Season!

  1. November 22, 2006 at 12:25 am

    When I read the sentance that you commissioned a banner, my mind rushed back to Brigham Young’s teaching to the Saints on the banks of the Platte river as they headed toward zion:

    He then spoke of the standard & ensign that would be reared in Zion, to govern the Kingdom of God * And the nations of the earth. For every nation would bow the knee & every tongue confess that JESUS was the Christ. And this will be the standard: The Kingdom of God & his Laws & Judgment in {the [-] if [–] man Christ}. And on the standard would be a flag of every nation under heaven so there would be an invitation to all Nations under heaven to come unto Zion. (29 May, 1847. Wilford Woodruff’s Journal)

    I have to admit that I was a little disappointed.

  2. Kevin Barney
    November 22, 2006 at 12:36 am

    I like the idea of a personal liturgical calendar. I think many of us have some sacred envy of real liturgical calendars, so why not make up our own?

    (I was annoyed in church last week when we only sang one Thanksgiving song. It only comes once a year, and yet we still can’t sing more than one song about it? Who picks these things?)

  3. November 22, 2006 at 2:08 am

    interesting blog!

  4. random me
    November 22, 2006 at 4:08 am

    i adored this post and look forward to hearing more of your liturgical calendar! i guess it’s the good ol’ catholic upbringing in me…

    we had our thanksgiving dinner tonight, as my husband will be working on the actual holiday (boo, hiss). it started out shaky as the last of our scheduled guests (the missionaries) bailed out around 9:00 a.m., leaving us entirely guestless. we called my mother-in-law, who lives two hours away, and invited her up as a last minute “hey, we’ve got too much food” thing. she brought along two of my husband’s siblings and one of his cousins.

    much of our tradition was tossed aside today. we ate far too late, didn’t have the big remember-the-season-building-up or game-playing-winding-down. but. BUT. this was the first thanksgiving *i* have thrown where family other than my husband and kids were in attendance. and that made it awfully special. i love making a to-do out of the holiday, but it sure was nice to be able to share the meal with more family!

  5. Melissa De Leon Mason
    November 22, 2006 at 9:10 am

    What a beautiful idea. I have to admit I miss the advent calendar and lighting of the advent wreath around Christmas season. I hadn\’t thought of adopting our own liturgical traditions though. Great post!

  6. November 22, 2006 at 10:57 am

    Great Post!

    I had never thought about setting up something like this before for traditions. Great idea! You’ve given me something to think about.

  7. dangermom
    November 22, 2006 at 5:01 pm

    So can we see a picture of the banner?

    I too suffer from liturgical envy and have been known to adopt some of them.

  8. Wilfried
    November 22, 2006 at 6:21 pm

    Thanks for this contribution, Marjorie!

    Just a little item on the banner. I understand you made your own banner with its symbolism? Interesting to note is that an own Church Flag apparently existed, but did not become part of general Mormon celebrations. I understand it is referenced in various 19th century sources and was displayed at a number of occasions: “a blue-and-white banner with stripes and twelve stars encircling a single large star”. All this according to this source: http://www.thechurchflag.com/Information.htm

  9. Anita
    November 23, 2006 at 12:48 am

    I would love to hear more details about your traditions–we do a family Pioneer Passover on the 24th of July that I have adapted from the Jewish version, and my kids think it’s a real holiday (“what do you mean, no one else does this?”)–so it’s great to hear about others out there flying their liturgical flags (and we should get one to fly, too!). We also do a “real Christmas” on April 6 (reading the 3 Nephi story and talking about the Savior), and even convinced a few of our other neighbors this past year to turn their Christmas lights on that night (the ones who still hadn’t taken them down by April).
    We also skip Santa. My kids know the legend and try not to ruin it for others, but we don’t have any reindeer on our roof–and I won’t even start about Halloween being celebrated at church activites….

  10. Marjorie Conder
    November 23, 2006 at 3:13 pm

    First I love your posts. I always look for them.
    About my banner. I will try and get a picture up. I will need help as posting photos is beyond this dinosaur’s skill set.

    There was a “flag of Zion” in the 19th century. I understand that it was seldom publically seen and the prototype was buried with Brigham Young. I have also heard several different versions of what it looked like, but all seem to be blue and white with stripes and also stars–3, 12, or both on a blue field. Latter-day Saints even in the midst of their great trials with the Feds, often publically proclaimed their loyalty to the “stars and stripes.” I guess those who knew, knew, and those who didn’t, didn’t. I think Michael Quinn did an article on the Flag of Zion in BYU Studies in the 1980s.

    Years ago I said I hoped to live to see the flag of Zion over Salt Lake City. It has been there for years now, literally high above the city, ever since the dedication of the park at the base of Ensign Peak trail. (Did you know that the real base of Ensign Peak is where the SL Temple now stands?) There used to be a plaque by the three flag poles(American, Utah and Zion flags) that said, “On these poles various flags are flown.” Well, duh! I guess once again those who knew, knew, and those who didn’t, didn’t. The plaque wasn’t there the last time I was there, but the Flag of Zion still was. I suppose you also know that High on a Mountain Top is the Ensign Peak song and makes a nice connection with the peak and the temple. The Ensign magazine is also connected to the event when the flag of Zion, aka Wilford Woodruff’s handkerchief, not an American flag, was raised on this peak, immediately after selecting the spot for the SL Temple.

    I understand there is a company in Bountiful that makes the Flag of Zion. I haven’t actually seen one, but I am thinking about getting one.

    I loved your response. I laughed with delight. Of course I knew I wasn’t the only one out there trying to do such things, but I have just never talked to any one else who is doing this. I will proabably share more about our Passover and my emerging ideas about the Feast of Tabernacles.

    Because you do a “Pioneer Passover” you probably already know that Brigham Young said, “The 24th of July is like a new Passover for modern Israel.” (us) Sixth General First Presidency Epistle, Sept. 22, 1851.

    I liked your “real Christmas” on April 6th, complete with Christmas lights. Since you approached your neighbors on this, I assume you are somewhere in the “Mormon corridor”, maybe even Salt Lake or Utah Valley. If you are anywhere near Salt Lake I would love to meet you. Here is a lunch invitation. My work number is 801-240-4649.

    We have not done Santa for over 30 years and before that it was played very lightly. I also agree that Halloween conflated with church is more than odd. When I was Primary Pres. I successfully headed off at the pass a few such ideas that I thought were just wrong-headed that came through Ward Council. However, I have never really objected to little kids “trick or treating” in the neighborhoods and as Primary Pres. I always tried to have premium hand-outs.

  11. Marjorie Conder
    November 23, 2006 at 6:00 pm

    sorry–it was dangermom, not Wilfried that wanted to see the flag.

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