Welcome | Moral Values | For Visitors | Calendar | Home page | News | For our Children | Ministries | Directions | Contact us | Recent Services |
Français | Español | English | Português |   中国  
Google www.UUBelgium.org

Brussels Unitarian Universalist Fellowship

International Unitarian Universalist Liturgical Calendar

Setting the Church Calendar for the New Year
Traduire cette page en Français

    A calendar of commonly celebrated occasions in Unitarian Universalist Congregations. There are congregations that may not celebrate many of these events. There are also occasions and traditions that are important to some congregations but which are not listed here. Some are celebrated in alternate years.


      HOMECOMINGsometimes the first Sunday after Labor Day. The beginning of the church year for many congregations. Some congregations include the   Water Communion ritual in this service.

        This ritual involves congregants, especially children who have brought small amounts of water to the service, taken from special places they have been over the summer. Or the water is collected from a rainstorm or is otherwise significant or symbolic in some way. They can pour the water into a large bowl and tell the congregation where it is from and the meaning it has for them.

        Themes often used in homecoming include: reunion; re-gathering; re-covenanting as a community of faith; hospitality ; returning home to the church community that holds us; hope; looking forward with excitement to church year. The service may be intergenerational in whole or in part.

      TEACHER DEDICATION — A variable autumn date. A part of the service in which religious education teachers are commissioned and blessed by the congregation to teach Sunday School and adult RE classes. The whole congregation might recite a dedication in unison.

      International day of Peace On September 21: Fomenting the Peace in Our Homes. In conformity with the Declaration of a Culture of constant Peace. Resolution 53/243 of the General Assembly of the UNO of September 13, 1999, in article 1 , a culture of peace is a set of values, attitudes, traditions, behaviors and ways of life based on Our Principle Six: The goal of a world community with peace, freedom and justice for all.

      AUTUMN EQUINOX – usually September 21. A time to remember cycles, seasons, the inevitability of change. A time to make an inner turn as nature makes a turn of Her own.

      YOM KIPPUR Probably the most important of Judaism's high holy days, the culmination of the Days of Awe , that begins with Rosh Hashanah. It was established in Leviticus 23:26-32. "Yom Kippur" means "Day of Atonement." It is a day set aside to "afflict the soul," to atone for the sins of the past year. Themes of our service include repentance, reconciliation, asking for forgiveness. "Atonement" can be broken down into: "At-one-ment", implying that when we forgive and are forgiven, we are brought back into relationship with one another. Dates of Yom Kippur are:

      • Jewish Year 5775 : sunset October 3 2014- nightfall October 4, 2014
      • Jewish Year 5776 : sunset September 22, 2015- nightfall September 23, 2015
      Probably the most important of Judaism's high holy days, the culmination of the Days of Awe , that begins with Rosh Hashanah. It was established in Leviticus 23:26-32. "Yom Kippur" means "Day of Atonement." It is a day set aside to "afflict the soul," to atone for the sins of the past year. Themes of the day include repentance, reconciliation, asking for forgiveness. "Atonement" can be broken down into: "At-one-ment", implying that when we forgive and are forgiven, we are brought back into relationship with one another.

      BLESSING OF THE ANIMALS – Sunday closest to October 4.

        In the Roman Catholic tradition, Oct. 4 is the Feast of St. Francis of Assisi. St. Francis (1182-1226) was a monk who founded the contemporary order of Franciscans. He was known for his vow of poverty and his special connection to animals, among many other things. Many Unitarian Universalists have picked up on the tradition of blessing animals, particularly pets, on this day. St. Francis may receive little attention at this service, but usually his prayer is used. In the spirit of World Animal Day in Puerto Rico we will bless pets and even stuffed animals at the service. Some congregations celebrate this service out of doors and people bring their pets to the service, others bring photographs of their pets; others have their pets blessed by naming them.

      CHILDREN'S SABBATH – National Observance of Children's Sabbath unites tens of thousands of religious congregations of many faiths in speaking out and acting faithfully for children and families. This year's Sabbath's theme is "Putting our Faith into Action to Seek Justice for Children." Many UU congregations will celebrate the Children's Sabbath through worship services, social action or special activities. Some will be held on the October date and others will be held at other times during the church year. Endorsed by the UUA and UU Service Committee, The Children's Sabbath calls us to pause and deeply consider, "How are our children? Are we putting children first?" and to then let our answers guide our actions as people of faith. During this service children usher, lead prayers, and preach the sermon. Children's Sabbath is organized by the Children's Defense Fund.

      UNITED NATIONS DAY – October 24. Unitarian Universalism's sixth principle: "The goal of world community with peace, liberty and justice for all" can make this a special day to observe religiously. Themes can include: war and peace, international cooperation, world events, global community. This year we celebrate the 60th anniversary of the Declaration of Human Rights.

      Día de Los Muertos

        ALL SOULS DAY – November 2 (observed on the Sunday between October 27 and November 2). Also called the Day of the Dead, All Souls Day is a day of remembrance for friends and loved ones who have passed away. It is a Roman Catholic day of commemoration and has prior origins in the ancient Pagan Festival of the Dead--which celebrated the Pagan belief that the souls of the dead would return for a meal with the family. Some themes: remembrance, grief, cycle of life and death, honoring those who have gone before us.


        Gratitude as a Spiritual Practice. Do you think There is a calmness to a life lived in Gratitude, a quiet joy? In the hurried pace of our lives today do you know people who have achieved or are trying to achieve calmness and quiet joy? How have they changed their priorites and the life choices they make? – Sunday before Thanksgiving. Themes can include gratitude for loved ones, gathering the family together, breaking bread together, Native American perspective on the holiday, Puritans, remembering those less fortunate.
          Thanksgiving in 2014 is Thursday, the 27th of November.

        Some congregations celebrate bread communion at this service. This ritual can include the breaking and passing around of bread throughout the congregation. Congregants eat the bread, or feed it to one another, while being led in a reflection about gratitude, sharing and being together in community.


      International Human Rights Day On Dec. 10, 1948, the U.N. General Assembly adopted its Universal Declaration on Human Rights. A celebration of our First Principle of the Inherent Worth and Dignity of all people, everywhere.

      WINTER SOLSTICE – usually December 21. For some Unitarian Universalists who have reservations about Christmas, the Winter Solstice has come to be the focal point of the winter holiday season. This day has become important to both humanists and Pagans, who can find common ground in celebrating this occasion. Themes can include light amid darkness; the death of nature and the cycle of life; the darkness just before the dawn; the miracle of every birth.

      CHRISTMAS EVE – December 24. Frequently a well-attended service. Often an evening service. It often includes "lessons and carols" and sometimes a story that conveys the spirit of Christmas. Some UU congregations include a candle-lighting ritual in the service, in which the church lights are dimmed and people pass a flame from candle to candle until everyone is holding a lit candle.

      KWANZAA—December 26-January 1. This is an African American celebration that focuses on the traditional African values of family, community responsibility, commerce, and self-improvement. It is not considered to be a substitute for Christmas. It is a time of reaffirming African-American people, their ancestors and culture. In some congregations, candles that are red, black and green are lit during a Sunday service and the worship leader tells the story of Kwanzaa.

      NEW YEAR'S DAY—Sunday closest to January 1. An opportunity to celebrate the beginning of a new year. Themes can include reflection upon the year that has just passed; hope for the promise of the year to come; resolutions to change; review of our priorities; the passage of time; hope; expectation; dreaming of a creating a better tomorrow.

        Some congregations celebrate the Fire Communion Ceremony at this service. In this service, congregants burn pieces of paper containing brief descriptions of something they most wish to leave behind and light a candle for a new hope for the coming year.

      SCOUT SUNDAY—first Sunday in February. A part of the worship service in which members of the congregation who are in the Girl Scouts or Boy Scouts are recognized and honored.

      MARTIN LUTHER KING, JR. SUNDAY—the Sunday before the MLK holiday, in mid-January. Themes include: King—his life and activities; the civil rights movement; anti-racism; non-violence; social change; activism; ethic of love.

      St. Valentine's Day The theme of Love: How do we define love. The will to extend one's self for the purpose of nurturing one's own or another's spiritual growth.

      BLACK HISTORY—usually in February, for Black History Month; or in March, to honor James Reeb who was killed on 3/9/1965 and Whitney Young died on 3/11/1971. This service is an opportunity for many congregations to address social justice, racial justice, white privilege, racial identity. Whitney Young (1921-1971) was an African American UU who was executive director of the National Urban League and an activist in the civil rights movement. James Reeb (1927-1965) was a white UU minister who was killed in Selma, Alabama, while supporting the civil rights movement there.

      Justice Sunday 2014

      — Sunday, March 23, 2014
        Spirituality without social action risks disconnection and narcissism. Activism without grounding in spiritual practice and reflection risks ineffectiveness and burnout. How do we cultivate an engaged spirituality? Each spring, in conjunction with the Unitarian Universalist Service Committee , UU congregations nationwide stand together, and set aside one Sunday for worship and education focused on one pressing human rights issue.This year we celebrate the 60th anniversary of the Declaration of Human Rights.

      YOUTH SUNDAY—variable. This service is often led by the youth of the congregation (adolescent age). They may plan it with their youth adviser, and/or with the minister or worship coordinator. Themes of the service vary from year to year.


      MEMBERSHIP SUNDAY—variable. This is a service to honor the people who have recently become members of the congregation. Some congregations hold this service twice a year; others once. This service often invites those who have recently "signed the book" to come before the congregation with the minister or worship leader. The new members might share a responsive reading with the congregation or recite a bond of fellowship or covenant together. The focus on membership might be a small part of the overall worship service. Or, the theme of membership might pervade the entire service with the recognition of new members being a piece of that.

      SPRING EQUINOX – usually March 21. Spring themes, including: lengthening of the days; nature coming to life again; joy; hopefulness; reawakening to ourselves after a long winter.

      PASSOVER SEDER—variable. Passover Dates:

        Pesach / Passover 2014 begins in the evening of Monday, April 14 and ends in the evening of Tuesday, April 22 in 2014.
        2015: April 3-11
          2016: April 22-30
            2017: April 10-18
        Passover (Pesach) is the most commonly celebrated holiday among Jews. It lasts for seven days. The primary observances of the holiday are related to the Exodus from Egypt after generations of slavery. This story is told in Exodus, Ch. 1-15; many of the Passover observances are instituted in Chs. 12-15. On the first two nights of Passover, the Seder meal is eaten. Some UU congregations will have a Passover Seder on one of those days, or a date close to then. Many of the customs and traditions of the Seder are observed. The Seder meal sometimes takes place in a church member's home, as opposed to the meeting place itself.

          Time - Talent - Treasure Sunday

      —usually sometime in early Spring. This service is often coordinated with the Stewardship committee, to include some of the concepts that the congregation is focusing on that year. Themes include: stewardship of the community; giving of our Time, Talent and Treasure as spiritual practice; abundance/scarcity; valuing what we say is important to us; the role of money in our lives; giving/receiving; Luke 12:34: "where your treasure is, there your heart will be also."

      EASTER – variable Spring date will occur on Sunday,Sunday, April 5.. Often one of the most well-attended services of the year. The resurrection theme of the holiday is often more metaphorical than literal. Many kinds of resurrection can be emphasized: rebirth of nature; resurrecting dreams and hopes; resurrecting dead relationships. In a general sense, the ultimate triumph of life over death. Hallelujah!

      EARTH DAY, April 22— Now that Global Warming is recognized as more than "An Inconvenient Truth" Unitarian Universalism's seventh principle: "Respect for the interdependent web of all existence of which we are a part" makes this a day to celebrate religiously. Themes can include: earth-centered spirituality; connecting to the divine through nature; care taking of the environment; the interdependent web. Living our Seventh Principle. The original Earth Day was on the March equinox. MARCH 20, 2015 is still the International Earth Day. In many countries Earth Day is April 22.

      Thomas Jefferson Birthday April 13

      MOTHER'S DAY – (Moederdag or Moederkesdag in Dutch and Fête des Mères in French) second Sunday of May. Often the father will buy croissants and other sweet breads and pastries, and brings it to the mother while she's still in bed. This is the beginning of a nice day of pampering the mother. The following is quoted from of Rev. Stefan Jonassen in his "A Canadian Unitarian Almanac And Liturgical Calendar"

        "In 1872, Unitarian Julia Ward Howe began advocating the creation of a "Mother's Day for Peace" to be held on June 2 each year. The following year, eighteen cities held such a gathering. Bostonians continued to observe the day for more than a decade, while some cities continued the observance until the turn of the century, when the annual "Mother's Day for Peace" appears to have died out. In 1907, Anna Jarvis, a Methodist, began a campaign to establish a permanent Mother's Day. By the following year, the YMCA had taken up the cause and, in 1914, Woodrow Wilson signed a congressional resolution establishing Mother's Day in the United States. In time, the day came to be marked in many other countries. Ms Jarvis was troubled by the commercialization of the day, saying, "I wanted it to be a day of sentiment, not profit." Inalterably opposed to the sale of flowers (but not the giving of homegrown blossoms), she also lamented the advent of the Mother's Day card, describing it as "a poor excuse for the letter you are too lazy to write." Interestingly enough, Mother's Day is the most heavily attended Sunday in North American churches, outside of the Christmas and Easter seasons! In Unitarian Universalist congregations, the day has increasingly taken on a sense of being a day to mark the contributions of all women."

      MEMORIAL DAY—the Sunday before the last Monday in May. Often a lightly attended service, due to the holiday weekend. Nevertheless, it is an important occasion to memorialize loved ones who have been lost, in war or in other ways. Themes can include: remembering people who have died; the power of memory; ritualizing our memories; gratitude for those who have gone before us; the cost of war.

      PARTNER CHURCH OBSERVATION—variable. For congregations who have partner churches in other parts of the world (such as Transylvania or India), this is an opportunity to focus on that relationship and on the other congregation. The liaisons to the partner church are often involved in planning and participating in the service.

      FLOWER COMMUNION – Variable spring date, often sometime in June. The following is quoted from a longer essay on the service, written by Reginald Zottoli (the full text can be found here: http://www.uua.org/aboutuu/flowercommunion.html):

        The Flower communion service was created by Norbert Capek (1870- 1942), who founded the Unitarian Church in Czechoslovakia. He introduced this special service to that church on June 4, 1923. The service was brought to the United States in 1940 and introduced to the members of First Parish in Cambridge, Massachusetts by Dr. Capek's wife, Maja V. Capek.
        In the service, people were asked to bring a flower of their choice and place them in vases or baskets. Dr. Capek then said a prayer, after which he walked over and consecrated the flowers while the congregation stood. After the service, as people left the church, they went to the vase and each took a flower other than the one that they had brought.
        The significance of the flower communion is that as no two flowers are alike, so no two people are alike, yet each has a contribution to make. Together the different flowers form a beautiful bouquet.
        By exchanging flowers, we show our willingness to walk together in our search for truth, disregarding all that might divide us. Each person takes home a flower brought by someone else - thus symbolizing our shared celebration in community.

      World Environment Day : First Sunday in June. Like Earth Day this is yet another opportunity to live our Seventh Principle. To reevaluate our lives and plan how to Reduce our Ecological Footprint. Going Green should become a spiritual practice.

      COMING OF AGE —usually in late Spring. This service is often a culmination of a coming of age program that 8th graders have been participating in for the year or for half a year. The youth, their mentors, and the program teachers often come before the congregation for recognition. Often, the 8th graders are given a gift to celebrate their rite of passage into adolescence.

      CHILDREN'S/RELIGIOUS EDUCATION SUNDAY—second Sunday in June. This is a service that focuses on children and the children's RE program. Often, it is organized by the Director of RE and RE teachers, perhaps with help from parents and the minister or worship coordinator. Children may sing, perform a skit, share their reflections on a topic. One of the intentions is to narrow the divide that sometimes exists between the community of adults who attend the main worship service and the children and teachers who are in Sunday school at that time.

      FATHER'S DAY —third Sunday in June. A time to celebrate the sacred vocation of fatherhood and the larger themes of paternal figures in our lives.

      TEACHER RECOGNITION SUNDAY – often in late spring, near the end of the church school year. A service to honor and thank those who serve the congregation by teaching Sunday school. The teachers usually come to the front of the church at some point in the service and are formally recognized for their contributions by the whole congregation. Themes can include: spiritual growth; education; religious community; ways of serving the community.

      GRADUATION RECOGNITION sometime in June. This is a chance to recognize and congratulate members of the congregation who are graduating from high school. Often, this is only a part of the overall service. High school graduation can mark a time when young adults are about to be less involved in the church community—many move out of the home and head to college or the workforce. This service is a chance to send them off with a blessing and remind them that they always have a spiritual home in the congregation. Also a chance to honor them for their hard work and perseverance in graduating.


      THE SUMMER SOLSTICE – June 21. The longest day of the year. Summer themes, including: warmth; beauty; abundant life of nature; slowing down; taking time to appreciate beauty; vacation.


        The glory of friendship is not the outstretched hand, nor the kindly smile nor the joy of companionship; it is the spiritual inspiration that comes to us when we discovers that someone else believes in us and is willing to trust us. "To Make a Friend, you must be a Friend" What is Friendship ?
      Hiroshima:       We Will Not Repeat This Evil     The Sunday closest to August 6. An interfaith Worship service to discuss what can we, as individuals and as a covenanted community, do to plan for the achievement and maintenance of a nuclear-weapon-free world. A time to remember those killed in the bombings of Hiroshima and Nagasaki and those affected by its aftermath. All who were injured or killed in conflicts like young Sadako, all who are now in harms way, including soldiers on all sides of the many conflicts that our small blue planet is now enduring and especially the innocent civilians affected by these wars, all those killed, injured or grieving because of acts of violence.

      LABOR DAY First Monday in September. The Sunday of this long weekend is often lightly attended because it's considered the last weekend of the summer. But it is a good occasion to reflect on the themes of vocation and those who work at jobs that allow us to receive goods and services. Also appropriate for themes of economic justice. In many congregations, this is the last of the smaller, more intimate services of the summer season.