How to Create Rituals That Celebrate Life
“I will not teach or love or show you anything perfectly, but I will let you see me, and I will always hold sacred the gift of seeing you, truly deeply seeing you.”- Dr. Brene Brown
Have you ever wondered, why do we celebrate certain things like birthdays, holidays or anniversaries? It’s more important than just being festive. It’s a way to stop, cherish and reaffirm what matters to us most in our lives. We celebrate birthdays and anniversaries to show those we love how much we care. We celebrate holidays to demonstrate, especially to our children where our values lie.
Celebrations and ceremonies focus attention so that attention becomes intention. Ceremonies transcend the boundaries of the individual and resonate beyond the human realm. These acts of reverence are powerful and magnify life. And when you incorporate nature and outdoor play into celebrations, you’re letting your family know that the natural world, and connecting with it, is important—so important it is associated with the things you cherish most.
During our last week at Forest School, we celebrated our learners, caregivers, mentors and ancestors during our “Root + Wings Ceremony”, where gathered around a community fire we cast a circle weaved with gratitude for our 4 Directions and expressed a deep appreciation for those that came before us. After, we brought up each learner, one by one and a mentor read a handwritten letter aloud to them, celebrating their strengths and contributions to our beautiful community of wholehearted humans.
Each learner and caregiver were affirmed that they matter and that they were born perfect, whole and complete. To deeply understand that we were grateful for them, exactly as they are. And as we sprinkled dried rose petals on them, the mentors stated that “with strong roots, they can now fly.” Our wish for them, today and always is that they remember this knowing and how loved they are by their family, friends, mentors and ancestors that are always present in their lives. The goal here is not to foster independence, per say but rather to foster interdependence, as we honor and celebrate not just the learner, but also the learner’s family and their ancestors surrounding them
This type of love and deep appreciation can be felt inside a ceremony and in everyday rituals, as ceremonies, celebrations, rituals and gratitude walk hand in hand, like good friends. There is a substantial amount of research that supports the many benefits of incorporating a gratitude practice into a child’s life, as well as our own lives. When we allow ourselves to celebrate the flowers coming into bloom, the sun shining on our gardens or even the first snowfall, we are essentially expressing how grateful we are for the wonders found in nature. And we’re passing that gratitude practice on to our children.
Nancy Rosenow, a child-led outdoor hero, believes that when we celebrate all the little things, and we do so often, children develop a deeply ingrained sense of gratitude. “When we start finding reasons to celebrate it shifts our focus on gratitude; our children pick up on that and they’ll follow suit,” shared Rosenow. “They’ll start saying things like, ‘we saw our first butterfly, let’s have a celebration,’ and it’s really lovely to see. Children think of celebrations in a different way than adults, and we can all learn from that,” Rosenow says.
“Whether they’re big or small, simple or elaborate, daily or yearly, all our celebrations or rituals serve the same purpose: they bring comfort, connection, and meaning to our days, days that might otherwise just wind up blurring together,” states Jenny Rosenstrach, author of “How to Celebrate Everything.” On a daily basis, rituals help answer the questions that are central to our lives: How do we recognize what matters? How do we express gratitude for everything we have- rather than the latest trend or fad on what we think we need, but the friends and family and community, the love that surrounds us?
And if you’re asking yourself, “Wait, do we have any rituals in your family?” Trust me, you do. There can be something memorable in the most ordinary moments of a family’s daily routine- like a morning hug or a book and three kisses before bed. Once you get into the ritual and gratitude mindset, you’ll see there are endless options for celebrating. You just have to know where to look.
Here are some fun ways to celebrate and bring in more nature-based rituals into your home:
- Start small. The summer is a great time to test out new rituals because there are so many hours and treasures to experience this season. Show your children how you notice things that you love- like the blooming flowers, the sight of your favorite bird or a beautiful sunset. Come harvest time, I bet your children will start to suggest little celebrations, showing you that the seeds you’re planting are taking root.
- Sunsets are nature’s daily celebration of the day. Perhaps make 1 day a week, your day to celebrate the sunset. In some cultures, groups of people find places like beaches or overlooks to celebrate the sunset and all clap just as the sun dips below the horizon.
- Full moons are also great monthly opportunities to celebrate the end of a cycle. Simply going out as a family to observe the full moon, maybe howl or take a full moon walk is a great way to celebrate the lunar divinity in the sky. A beautiful full moon celebration can be found here.
- Aligning with the wheel of the year and the six seasons allows us to align with the natural rhythm of life. To know when the best times to rest and be active, to indulge in the freshest food of the season and to establish a better work-life balance by tapping into the energetics of the season at hand. You can learn more about Seasonal Living for Spirituality here.
Thank you all for an incredible season, where no matter what went on in the world, we more deeply connected to ourselves, each other and the greater world around us. We are forever grateful and honored by the opportunity to see each of you. Thank you for being you. See you outside soon!
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