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Reluctant worshippers - come and see what RubySlippers has to say on "Tradition";

(52 Posts)
MaryBS Wed 28-Jan-09 15:43:46

OK you lot, just because the Rev ain't here, doesn't mean you can skive off and miss exercising those few brain cells you had left after having children...

Today we have Ruby Slippers taking the floor (and the choccy biscuits and the collection, while my back is turned...).

She's going to talk to us all about Tradition, and how we all have them, and what they mean to us. In particular her own faith tradition...

So sit tight and listen up good!

MaryBS Wed 28-Jan-09 15:45:44

From Ruby:

Tradition – the very word conjures up a myriad of meanings … from the traditional Sunday roast, traditional gender roles, Christmas traditions and so on. The word itself actually comes from the Latin “traditionem” which means “Handing over, passing on” (thank you Wikipedia!) and this is the meaning which first struck me when I started writing this reflection.

It has given me the chance to think about the beliefs and customs I have both consciously and unconsciously drawn on during my adulthood to form the rhythms of my own family life..

We all have rituals and things that we do, sometimes each day and more significantly to mark special occasions. All the major, monotheistic religions mark life’s milestones with celebrations, the rituals of which encapsulate the past and welcome the future. They are the things which mark our very lives and are a time for celebration as well as reflection.

They are the tiny things – like the way we make our tea, which shoe we put on first all the way through to the way we welcome our children into the world and the ways in which we then mark the passing of subsequent years.

I have come to realise that traditions inform many parts of my religious and secular life – Fridays are a case in point. Come 3.00 pm, I am usually trying desperately to finish my work emails, my filing and housework whilst simultaneously preparing for Friday night, and the welcoming of the Sabbath. The Shabbat candles are in their holders ready to be lit; if I am feeling very saintly my Challahs will be baking in the oven (otherwise sitting on the counter wrapped in plastic thanks Mr Marks and Mr Spencer) and I am setting the table with my late grandmother’s cloth and silverware.

I think of my mum doing the same thing 200 miles away, in her home doing things just as her late mum taught her, and her mum before her. And I feel blessed that I am doing something that my mother taught me, but also something countless other families are doing all around the world, with all their particular quirks. It is, for me, a moment of wonderful, warm and silent connection. It is a chance to say goodbye to the stresses and strains of the working week and put a literal demarcation between that and the weekend.

Traditions mark so many points in our lives – from the sublime to the more prosaic. For example, when my twin sister and I were growing up, birthdays were a very big deal. We would run into our parents’ room, where they would be waiting with a presents and cards and we would all sit together on their bed and open them up; usually at 6.00 am! I started to do this for my DH and we now do it for our DS. The night before his birthday I do what my mum used to do, and hide everything by the side of my bed ready for morning. I fully admit as DS is only 2.5, this ritual is currently more for my benefit than his, but I look forward to the days when he comes running into my room and throws himself onto my bed demanding gifts!
Talking of my DS, he is currently a very obvious embodiment of one of the more unusual traditions that I am observing. He isn’t having his hair cut until he is 3 years old when we will have a big party called an “upsherin”. This word means literally to “shear off” and it is a time when young Jewish boys have their hair cut and start to wear their yarmulke (head covering).

The first haircut has special significance in quite a few cultures and religions and is considered a rite of passage for Native American babies and some tribes commemorate the first haircut with a ritualistic dance. In addition, hair cutting has special significance for African Caribbean boys, Mongolian babies, and as well as Hindus.
The root of the Jewish ceremony – the Upsherin - is from a verse in the Torah which compares man to a tree.
Just as a tree emerges from a tiny seed to grow tall and bear fruit, so a small child grows in knowledge and bears the fruit of his good deeds. Therefore, just as the Torah requires newly planted fruit trees to grow un-harvested for three years and offer the fruits to G-d, the tradition calls for leaving the boy's hair uncut.
So, in a few months we will have a party and all of DS’s family and friends will take a snip of his hair, and we will dance and sing and fuss over him. We will weigh his hair, and give a corresponding amount to charity and I will cry as I watch my baby take another step into toddlerhood and away from babyhood.

And I will feel proud that I am sharing ceremony, this tradition with my nearest and dearest, and I will dream, just for a moment that this ceremony is something I may share with a future grandson.

Indeed, it is this “Passing on” that feels so lovely. Is it not a parents’ task to give their children both roots and wings?
I think it is traditions which are both the ties that bind them to us, but which ultimately help them to become independent too, knowing they have this shared knowledge, these customs and these gifts can help them navigate their way through life knowing they are rooted too.

BennyAndJoon Wed 28-Jan-09 15:52:41

Ruby - that is lovely

amber32002 Wed 28-Jan-09 17:02:10

Thank you smile

As someone who lives by routine, and values tradition greatly in her own personal worship, it's lovely to hear of yours.

DutchOma Wed 28-Jan-09 17:18:47

That's beautiful Ruby, thank you very much.
{{Waves to Rev and Mary}}.

TheMadHouse Wed 28-Jan-09 18:59:26

Ruby - thank you for that. it is so relevant. I was asked at swimming today if we were not cutting DS2's hair until he was three due to our religion and I didnt understand the significance or the question really blush

I will ponder the rest and come back later

fryalot Wed 28-Jan-09 19:11:30

that was beautiful ruby; thank you for sharing

(just don't tell anyone I was here wink)

Lulumama Wed 28-Jan-09 19:30:52

bump for ruby !

isn;t it lovely?

NilDesperandum Wed 28-Jan-09 19:37:28


MaryBS Wed 28-Jan-09 19:38:16

I agree, its really lovely Ruby, I've learned a lot from your really thoughtful reflection.

I love the rituals in my own church, I love the comfort and familiarity it gives me. I hope to pass them all on to my children too. DD (9) came with me to Midnight Mass at Christmas, for the first time, and I have to admit it was a proud moment as she joined in so well, despite the late hour. Of course it DID mean she expected to stay up for the rest of the night too, to open her presents, and not go back to bed!

justabouttohaveacuppa Wed 28-Jan-09 20:49:30

Message withdrawn at poster's request.

PeachyBAHonsPRSCertOnRequest Wed 28-Jan-09 21:37:03

That was fab Ruby.

I struggle with traditions- I come from a family that didnt have vewry many so those I have I have had to develop myself. I'm not great at them I thought but from your writing I recognise the little traditions we do have- most of which are almost insignificant but nonetheless give a format to our lives.

BennyAndJoon Wed 28-Jan-09 22:11:20

I have no religious traditions or ceremonies; I come from a very athiest family which is occasionally agnostic, as does DH.

I thought the no hair cutting before 3 and the reasons were beautiful smile

We make our own traditions I guess, we always speak to my parents on a saturday night, I always bug DH to speak to his parents on a saturday night, every year we get together on DS2s birthday (the first shared grandchild between my parents and ILs), little stuff like that.

Oh and we always have pasta on a monday night wink grin

Niecie Thu 29-Jan-09 09:17:31

Lovely 'sermon' Ruby.

I was thinking about what traditions we have as a family and looking at BennyandJoon's email I was thinking about the fact we have the same tea every Saturday night and we always go to see my parents after school on Friday.

But then I got to wondering at what point a routine becomes a tradition. Is it to do with us endowing a routine with some significance over and above the need to do something. How do we establish something as a tradition?

I tend to think, as a kind of gut reaction, that a tradition is something you do once a year like we go to a particular fireworks display in November or we go to the nativity service on Christmas eve and things like that. But that doesn't work as a definition because quite obviously Ruby's traditional Friday evening rituals are weekly.

I do agree that we do take comfort from them, although conversely it is upsetting if, for some reason you can't carry out your tradition. I think also that as well as being comforting, traditions can challenge us which is also not the way I first thought of them when reading this. Perhaps they have a role to play in reintroducing certain thoughts and behaviours into our consciousness, like going to church every week, reconnects us with God and reminds us, if we need reminding that he is there.

Sorry, rambling again. I'll shut up and eat biscuits now.blush

Niecie Thu 29-Jan-09 09:26:19

Sorry I put 'sermon' in inverted commas as I wasn't sure we were allowed to call it that any more not because I didn't think Ruby's thoughts weren't up to the title!

justaboutisnotastatistician Thu 29-Jan-09 09:38:44

Message withdrawn at poster's request.

Bramshott Thu 29-Jan-09 09:50:58

One of the reasons it is important for me to go to our village church is that I like to imagine all the people who have lived in our house over the years going there too. We walk the same route they would have walked by footpath.

Niecie Thu 29-Jan-09 10:01:23

Justabout - I was being a tad sarcastic I must admit and then I thought Ruby might be offended and think I didn't rate her writing! blush

Nice to see you

Sesthinks2009willbeagreatyear Thu 29-Jan-09 10:19:22

Hi! I've not posted on Reluctant Worshippers before but have lurked a little. I grew up CofE but converted to Catholicism at age of 25 (about 10 yrs ago).

Ruby - thank you for your reflection. Beautiful and thought provoking.

The tradition of my Catholic faith is one of the things that drew me to it - traditions that have been passed down from the time of the apostles and traditions that have grown and developed through the reflections of the Church. I find a great sense of community from the knowledge that many of our rituals are consistent across continents and across centuries.

It also made me think of some of our family traditions. We recently celebrated Christmas. For the first time me and DH hosted. It made me appreciate some of the traditions that my parents had always had at Christmas but also made us want to develop our own and change some from our own experiences. It was lovely that the Christmas DH and I hosted was a combination of each of our childhood traditions.

Sorry - that was a really long first RW post. blush

TotalChaos Thu 29-Jan-09 10:22:22

Lovely post Ruby. Despite being brought up Jewish and going to Jewish primary school, I either was unaware or had forgotten about this tradition blush

Lulumama Thu 29-Jan-09 12:17:28

bump for ruby

PeachyBAHonsPRSCertOnRequest Thu 29-Jan-09 12:18:07

I think tradition is so important- thinking overnight has reminded me of the need I ah to have a welcoming party for ds3, even though we didn't want him baptised at that point. We held a Humanist one in the end, we needed more formality than a simple party: it fed a real need to us.

And I think tradition is an evolutionary requirement: we are at our hearts tribal, and the bonds that keep tribes close are founded on traditions. They help us recognise our kin, those we share genes with and might rely on (and shouldn't marry! very important that LOL- from someone whom it has been suggested may have married a relative (long story involving a FIL abandoned by his Mum, a Dh who is the spit of my Dad and a recent tracing of FIL's Mum back to my home town- 99% sure there's nowt in it....). They also make us feel secure and give us ways to cope with the bad things such as death, as well as celebrate the best events of our lives.

thinkingaboutdrinking Thu 29-Jan-09 12:35:58

Thanks Ruby that was lovely.
I am a great fan of traditions especially at Christmas and I remember the first time I was staying at my in-laws over Christmas. I was really missing home and all its traditions until I realised that I now got to enjoy another family's little rituals - it was such a special thing to be able to join their family and become part of their "handing on" to the next generation. I love the fact now that our children can enjoy and share the traditions (not just at Christmas) of our two families.

I know that for some people tradition (particularly in church) can be seen as a bad thing which I think is sad because the familiarity of ritual and tradition can be calming.

karala Thu 29-Jan-09 13:17:54

I loved reading that - I struggle to find traditions from my own childhood but have found many traditions from my inlaws which I'm very happy to grow into and adopt -

rubyslippers Thu 29-Jan-09 13:33:26

Oh my goodness - i am blush and smile at the comments

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