Welcome back to my column, I hope you enjoyed last month’s article. Please be sure to send me an email to [email protected] if you have a comment, suggestion or question.
Last month I touched on ceremonies for children less than one year of age. This month I’ll give ideas for ceremonies you may want to do with your child aged 1-5. As it’s also October, I will give some ideas to celebrate Samhain with your kids.
Ceremonies for Ages 1-5
A lot of people celebrate the birth of a baby, even if it’s just a congratulatory card to the new parents. It seems like after they get a little older, we forget that their newest accomplishments are just as important.
You can hold a ritual/ceremony for ANY reason. First tooth, first word and first step are at least generally recorded in baby books. However what about first time she put together two words into a sentence? (Me milk for I want milk) What about first time running, first time in big kid underwear, when he knows numbers 1-10, when she can spell her name or first word read? These accomplishments are important too and deserve attention. I’m not talking hour-long ceremonies for each of these accomplishments. A 10-minute or less ceremony will suffice. The child under 5 doesn’t have a long attention span anyway.
So what would one of these ceremonies look like?
Here is a sample ceremony for a child who has learned how to spell her name:
Parents, child and siblings, and perhaps grandparents, God(dess)parents or family friends gather at home of child. Everyone visits first for a while, with refreshments, background music and (I hope) laughter. When the time seems right, a parent (we’ll go with mom) gets everyone’s attention.
Mom: If I could get everyone’s attention please. (Room quiets down) Thanks. We are all here tonight to acknowledge that Aimee can now spell her name! (Note: don’t make the child do a demonstration of any new skill, it puts them on the spot and makes them uncomfortable.)
All: Hooray for Aimee! Good Job!
Dad: Aimee we are all very proud of you. You are getting bigger everyday and we just wanted you to know that we are noticing and that no matter how big you get, you will always be our baby. (Or one of our babies)
Mom and Dad commence hugging and if child is comfortable with it, other attendants can hug her too
That’s it! You can include gifts but I would only do that with certain milestones such as toilet training (package of underwear), first word read (book) or any other bigger one. If you give a gift each time, your child will come to expect the gift, which is not what you want. This works for single parents too, just merge the Mom and Dad parts. For same-sex parents, it doesn’t matter what you are called, just make sure both parents are involved. If you are interested in more ideas, both for your children and for yourself, from birth to death and everything in between, I highly recommend you check out Life’s Little Rituals by Alexandria. It is not a pagan book but can be very useful to a pagan interested in celebrating their life. You can find my review of the book here.
Samhain is just around the bend; boy has this year flown by! Samhain and Yule are the most celebrated of the Sabbats, especially in families with children. This is because of Halloween and Christmas, holidays that were created from Samhain and Yule and so therefore contain many aspects of them. Pumpkin carving and Trick-or-treating are not the only ways to celebrate Samhain though! Here are some more ideas with age suggestions:
- Samhain is the end of the harvest. Discuss beginnings and endings with your child at a level they would understand. Explain how in many ways, an ending is really just the start of a new beginning (as with the calendar year.) Perhaps brainstorm other endings that are the start of beginnings. (4+)
- Dried gourds sound like rattles and are good for raising energy in a ritual. Unless you happen to have already dried some gourds many months ago, you won’t have what you need. You could see if you can find some pre-dried gourds (apparently available somewhere but I’ve not seen them,) or you can get some gourds and start drying them for next year. After they are dried, paint them however you want and they’re done! (2+)
- Samhain is the New Year for many pagans. If this is true of your path, make some new year’s resolutions. A fun way is to write them down (or write them down for the children) and then throw them one at a time into a fire and watch them burn. (3+)
- This is the time of the year when divination works the best. If your child isn’t already familiar with a type of divination, now is the time to introduce it. With this age group, they are not yet ready to actually use a divination system but can be shown them and explained the idea of how it all works. Stick with something simple like crystal ball gazing or scrying or dowsing. Stay away from Tarot, Palmistry or Graphology (handwriting analysis.) Runes might be okay too. Just sit down with them and let them manipulate the objects while you talk. Answer any questions they have and offer a little bit of information. If they seem disinterested don’t force it, they are still young. (3+)
- Finally, Samhain is also the time of year we remember our ancestors and those we know who have passed on. If you did my first suggestion and mentioned reincarnation (if you believe in it obviously) then you’ve already touched on this subject. Now however would be a good time to visit the gravesite, view photographs of relatives past, or burn a candle and leave out a place setting at dinner for your ancestors. (Bury the food in the ground afterwards.) (3+)
For the younger children ages 0-2, focus on fall activities. Read books (yes even to newborns,) collect leaves and have your child arrange them on a piece of waxed paper. Then somewhere away from the child, put another piece of waxed paper overtop and iron it together. Sing fall songs, go apple or pumpkin picking and go on a hay ride. Keep it simple.
I hope that helps you a bit. Next month I’ll touch on some fun, everyday activities you can do with your children that have a Pagan or Mother Nature theme. You will also find some winter activities.