Holidays and Traditions
Unitarian Universalism is a diverse faith tradition with roots not only in Christianity and Judaism but also in various world religions, earth-based spirituality, and humanism. We have a number of holidays and traditions inspired by many faith traditions but that reflect our own values.
The Blending of the Waters is typically held on the Sunday after Labor Day (or the Sunday closest to September 7th, UUJXN’s founding day). Originating with UU congregations in the 1980s, this ceremony marks the end of summer and the beginning of the new church year.
In this ceremony, everyone is encouraged bring a small amount of water from a place they traveled over the summer or that reflects a place that is special to them. “Symbolic” water is provided for those without water. During the service, people one by one pour their water together into a large bowl. The combined water is symbolic of our coming together in a shared faith from many different sources. The water is blessed by the congregation. A small amount is collected and stored to add to next year’s water communion. The remaining water may be added to the memorial garden or used as the congregation for child dedication ceremonies or other events in need of “holy water.”
Stone Soup Sunday is typically held on a Sunday in November before Thanksgiving. Led annually by member Dary Shenefelt, Stone Soup Sunday is an annual ritual that celebrates the bounty found in community.
Before the service, everyone is encouraged to bring vegetables, grains, and herbs to add to prepared soup stocks and items to contribute to a local food pantry. During this service, the food donations are collected and the story of Stone Soup is read (or acted out) while the soups cook. Afterwards everyone shares in the bounty created together.
The Burning Bowl or Fire Communion is an annual ritual celebrated at the end of the year (or beginning of a new year). It marks the transition by letting go of the past and expressing hope for the future.
In this annual ritual, everyone is encouraged to write out words and/or draw symbols on paper that is then placed in a burning caldron allowing the paper to be consumed and the burdens to be released. Wishes and hopes for the future are also recognized through the lighting of candles.
MLK, Jr. Day / 30 Days of Love / Side with Love Sunday
This 30 Day season begins with honoring the legacy of Martin Luther King, Jr. and continues through to the Sunday closest to Valentine’s Day. This time serves as an opportunity to collectively nurture our spirits, deepen our understanding, and take action on our values for collective liberation.
Each year focuses on intersectional justice priorities, with opportunities each week for communities and people of all ages to ground, grow, and act together for justice.
The Flower Communion is an annual ritual, usually celebrated on Easter Sunday, celebrating the beauty and diversity of our beloved community. Originally created in 1923 by Unitarian minister Norbert Capek (Czechoslovakia), the Flower Communion was intended as a symbolic ritual to connect people. It was introduced to the U.S. by his widow, Rev. Maya Capek.
In this ceremony, everyone brings a flower of their choosing and places it in shared vases on the altar. After the flowers are blessed, each person comes forward to select a different flower than the one they brought, appreciating the shared beauty and community in the exchange.
Soap Box Sunday is a unique UUJXN service created by (late) member Fran Leber. Soap Box Sunday is held on the Sunday closest to July 4th and is an opportunity to exercise your free, and responsible, speech. This service celebrates our fifth principle, the right of conscience and the use of the democratic process within our congregations and in society at large.
During this service, everyone is encouraged to literally stand on their soapbox (if willing and able) to speak on a topic of their choosing for up to two minutes. Afterwards, speakers are “applauded off” (if need be).
At UUJXN we regularly hold services to acknowledge new members who have joined the congregation or when children transition to adult status, known as bridging. These services may be individual services or integrated into other special services which celebrate our beloved community, such as Stone Soup or Flower Communion.
During this service, new members or bridging youth as well as the congregation engage in ceremonial readings to acknowledge the new roles, rights, and responsibilities of new members and youth.