Ringing in the New Year

As I look back on my 14thyear as a celebrant I am struck by how it continues to be such a fulfilling experience. I’ve had many diverse work experiences in my life, from music to social services, as well as politics – hey I’m old!  But being a part of the happiest day in someone’s life is right at the top!

Friends and readers of this column often ask me how I come up with different topics every week. I honestly don’t know, but the subjects I covered this year ranged from humanism, rain on your wedding (a perennial favorite), ancient roots of modern weddings, how traditions evolve, and modern problems such as social media, family issues, cultural customs, to name a few.

My focus has expanded a bit, and the column has become more personal and a reflection of my own experiences, and I hope you’ve enjoyed that. I am always encouraging couples to think about how their journey and their own worldview can be reflected in the ceremony. Being honest is important for a meaningful ceremony, just as being honest in this space is important for me. Since my area of expertise is the ceremony, I do try (mostly) to stick to that, but I have sure learned a lot about the other aspects of weddings.

Celtic rituals and customs still remain some of my favorites. From rituals to readings, it is a well-deserved reputation that the Irish are poetic people. They have not forgotten their pagan roots, either. Even the most religious Irish person often feels comfortable with rituals such as a ‘handfasting’ that harkens to ancient times.

Celtic jumping the branch (Garth Woods Photography)

Another inspiring ceremony for me to create is one that is multicultural, interfaith, or both. I’m so happy to be able to provide something meaningful for those couples. And for any cultural or religious background, if I don’t know about it, I am excited to research and learn. That is certainly a part of keeps me engaged (no pun intended).

If there is one over-riding theme or purpose to this column it would be to encourage couples to think about the meaning of this milestone. While caught up in the planning and the many decisions concerning the ‘big day’ – don’t lose sight of the big picture. You’re planning a wedding, sure, but I also hope you are planning a marriage. I feel there is too much pressure and unrealistic expectations about weddings, and much of it is media driven.

The ceremony represents this important milestone, and is marked by ritual, some of them quite ancient. If you struggle to understand just how important ritual can be, I wrote this on Thanksgiving Day. Think of the rituals involved, the food, of course, and even if it’s watching the game on tv, it can be comforting to know what will happen. That’s ritual. It helps seal a memory in your heart.

The same is true for Christmas, Hanukkah or any seasonal celebration.  A great example of that is the hanging of stockings. This age-old ritual can be traced all the way back to the noble man Nicholas in 280 AD.  Picture how stockings (socks) were and hung by a fire to dry overnight. In fact, they still can be in many places, it’s simply an obvious way to dry wet clothing! When Nicholas, a rich man and a follower of Jesus (hence the Christmas connection), heard of a poor family in need, he visited their home in the dark of night. The stockings provided a great place for him to anonymously put a bag of gold.

The new year is another milestone we humans like to celebrate. Marking the date on the calendar varies – the Chinese calendar counts it as 4717 and celebrates in Febrary, and the Hebrew calendar marks this year as 5779. But whatever the date – celebrating the new year is something that helps us to let go of the old and welcome new opportunities. It is inherently unsettling to not know the future and the celebration of New Year’s Eve and Day helps us plan and cope with those feeling.

I hope my ‘wedding talk’ enhances your experience of weddings as a guest, family member and of course, couples who are tying the knot. And I hope you have a healthy and happy new year!

This entry was posted in Wedding Ceremonies and tagged , , , , , , , , , , . Bookmark the permalink. Post a comment

Post a Comment

You must be logged in to post a comment.

We reserve the right to remove any content at any time from this Community, including without limitation if it violates the Community Rules. We ask that you report content that you in good faith believe violates the above rules by clicking the Flag link next to the offending comment or fill out this form.
  • Categories

  • Archives