Ideas for Celebrating Pagan Holidays With Family and Children
4 Pagan Family Activities to Celebrate Spring (Imbolc)
Imbolc is coming, and it's time to celebrate the season. If you are raising your children in a Pagan religion, marking the holidays together is a great opportunity to have fun, establish meaningful family traditions and teach your children about our religions.
With children, you don't have to do any heavy, ritualized activities. Expecting kids under 12 to sit obediently in the circle around an altar for a formal ritual doesn't really bring any meaning or joy to their sabbat. While it's great to set up a family altar and take some time out for a prayer or offering, the best way to celebrate the holidays is with seasonally-appropriate activities.
1. Decorate Candles
Decorating candles is always an appropriate activity for a Pagan holiday, but it is especially meaningful on Imbolc, also known as the 'Feast of Waxing Light'. It's the time of the year when the light that has been growing since Yule is becoming noticeably longer each day. One way some Pagans celebrate that is to light all the lights and candles they can to really brighten the house-- even if only for a few minutes. If you have Pagan friends or family, you might even wish to decorate and bless that candles at your own altar, then give them away as little Imbolc gifts.
Either way, a beautiful, seasonally decorated candle on your altar is a lovely sight on the eve of the Sabbat.
Glass pillar candles are safe and easy to decorate. Have children use glitter glue or paint pens on the outside of the glass to draw sun or fire signs, blessing symbols or whatever decorations they prefer.
Another way to decorate a glass pillar candle is to cut and glue colorful wrapping tissue paper with Elmer's glue to the outside of the glass.
You can paint directly on candle wax with acrylic craft paints or glitter glue, or you can use a butter knife or old pen that's out of ink to scratch symbols directly into the wax.
Finally, another option is to brush a candle (not in glass- directly on the wax) with glue and roll it in dried herbs and spices. Not only do these look very rustic and grungy, but they smell so good when you burn them.
Just remember—supervise children when decorating and when burning candles!
2. Make Soap
This sabbat is traditionally associated with cleansing and purification. What could be more in line with cleansing and purification than soap?
Home-made soap is easier to make than you think. You don't have to make soap from scratch. You can grate a bar of pure soap (like Ivory, or Castile soap) in a glass bowl in the microwave. Just put it in at 30 second intervals. After each interval, stir. You'll know it's done when it's melted and chunk-free—but don't overheat it.
Stir in your own additives to the soap. You can even bless and charge the additives if you wish, first, to give them an extra boost.
If you want to make the soap exfoliating, add some oatmeal or ground almonds. If you have shea butter or cocoa butter, add a spoonful for moisturizer. Add ground herbs such as lavender, thyme, rosemary, rose hips or raspberry leaves. If you wish, you can scent it and lend it additional energies with a few drops of essential oils.
Once you're finished, pour the soap into molds. You can use store-bought plastic molds, but I really like to recycle my old tuna cans. I spread petroleum jelly in the can to prevent sticking, and pour the soap into it. The finished product comes out nice and round.
It can take a couple of days for the soap to fully harden, and it may take a few more days to fully cure the soap depending on how thick you make it. But it's a wonderful treat to wake up to Imbolc morning and purify yourself with your own Imbolc soap— and that soap will remind you of the holiday and its blessing for as long as you use it. And, once again, if you're looking for Imbolc gifts for loved ones, this is a great option.
3. Cook Pudding
Imbolc means 'in the belly' and is referring to the belly of the sheep at this time of year. It's the season when the lambs are born. Another name for the holiday is 'Oimelc' which means 'ewe's milk'. The reason this is so important for the season is that our Pagan ancestors, in the dead of winter with no electricity, stores or antibiotics, were in a deep struggle for survival. The lambing season was a sign that spring would soon be coming, and it brought a new food source to help sustain them-- milk.
Any dairy dish is appropriate, then for this time of year—a Tres Leche (three milk) cake, home made ice cream, custard, butter or cheese. A really easy dish to cook up with children, though, is pudding. If your child is very young, you can even use the instant no-cook puddings available in the supermarket. Just have your child whisk in the milk.
To make an extra light pudding treat, decrease the milk by half. When the pudding sets, fold in whippped cream. You can spoon it into fancy glasses with layers of jam or macerated fruit, or you can slice fruit into a graham cracker crust and top it with the pudding filling for a pie.
I personally like a lemon pudding with raspberries, or a white chocolate pudding with strawberries. Slice bananas into a pie crust and top it with vanilla pudding for a delicious banana cream pie (drizzle some melted chocolate on top of it). Pistachio pudding also goes lovely in a cup with diced bananas. There are so many different flavors, you can come up with great combinations that can become part of your traditional holiday meal.
If you're going to a ritual with a potluck, pudding pies are always a hit.
4. Bless the Hearth
Imbolc is a fire festival, and the hearth has long been the focus of the season. If you're lucky enough to have a fireplace, you may wish to make a small altar on the mantle or above the fireplace dedicated to your hearth Goddess or household guardian spirits that oversee domestic issues. If you don't have a fireplace, consider your stove a modern form of a hearth. It saves the same purpose.
Make a mixture of olive oil and other essential oils and use it to bless and consecrate the hearth. Dip your fingers into it and draw symbols of blessing on the hearth stone or oven.
You may also wish to make a charm or talisman to bring blessings to your home and hang it above the stove, or place it on your mantle. It doesn't have to be large, and it doesn't even have to be conspicuous if you're trying to protect your beliefs from nosy neighbors or judgmental family members. A refrigerator magnet with a Sun image-- the ultimate fire symbol-- would serve the purpose, and no one would be the wiser as to the Pagan meaning behind it.
Traditionally this time of year was to honor the Celtic Goddess Brighid, a Goddess of fire and poetry. If you have a St. Brighid's cross, you might bless it and hang it over the heart. It's a good time to honor any hearth Goddess, though, such as Hestia or Vesta.If you have or want to make a small plaque in their honor to hang above the stove or place on a nearby shelf, do so. An easy way to do this is to buy chip wood figures at the craft store and paint them.
If you want, you can even set up a mini hearth altar to honor your hearth Goddess. We bought a small cutting board at the dollar store and use it for an altar. It's only 6 inch diameter, and we keep it on the center of the stove (when we're cooking we set it aside on the counter next to the stove). We place upon it a small incense cone burner, a very small finger bowl for offerings, and a red votive candle in a holder. We light these to honor Her, particularly when cooking Sabbat meals. We always give her the 'first bite' in her offering bowl of any meal we cook. With this we can easily honor Her year round, reaping her many blessings.
Pagan Celebration Ideas for the Whole Family
Simple Imbolc Activities
Color pictures of springtime.
Read Celtic myths about Brigit.
Feed the snow birds.
Play in the snow and enjoy the last of winter.
Bless your animals.
Start some seeds indoors.
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© 2013 Mackenzie Sage Wright