Holidays & Traditions
Dates are typical.
Daring To Dream (First Sunday in January)
By making conscious our yearnings and dreams for the way things ideally can be, we allow our natural creative powers to shape our future. Consider how much your current life is a realization of something you once dreamed. During the cold months of winter, nature inclines us toward dreaming about what might further inspire our vitality. At this celebration of the New Year, we reflect on this question: “As the story of my life unfolds in this next year’s chapter, what changes would be meaningfully and joyfully fulfilling?”
Martin Luther King Day
The vision of a world where every person is “judged by the content of his character” and the inspiration of a person who lived a purposeful life are revisited by a special guest speaker who articulates the challenges we face today to make the world more loving and just for all.
Pay Attention To Love Day (Sunday before Valentine’s Day)
Although it is said that love is the only true measure of our success, for many of us, love seems oddly elusive and leaves us wanting more. This celebration of the heart introduces one week of the year that we flag down from all the rest to pay special attention to the love we feel for the people around us. For the occasion 1) wear red and white to this Platform; 2) place a large red heart on your door, like a wreath, to let people know: “Love is spoken here.”
Other WINTER events include an all-society Winter Getaway Weekend in Camp Soles, Pennsylvania, the 2nd semester of LifeWorks adult education classes, and a Naming Ceremony for newborns and children new to our community.
All-WES Community Dinners (Throughout March)
At these Pledge Parties, we celebrate our fellowship and progress, the Board of Trustees present their plans for the coming season, and most of us make our financial pledge for the next year. These dinners inspire a great experience of solidarity and destiny about our collective purpose.
Humanistic Spring Celebration Dinner (an evening during Passover)
We celebrate the earth’s springtime renewal and humanity’s ever-renewing efforts to bring forth more tolerance, compassion, and social justice. This Ethical Culture “Seder,” inspired by the Jewish spring dinner ritual of renewal, includes the humanistic telling of powerful stories from Jewish and modern sources. In the warmth of family, friends, and community, we eat, drink, sing, read, reflect on our values, and renew our commitment to creating a better world for all. This moving ceremony is a song of freedom with a powerful message of hope that transcends kinship, national borders, or any constraints of time, race, and place. It reminds us of our responsibility to reach beyond what we think is possible to make personal initiatives that move the world toward a more ethical culture. It represents an insistence that we each regard ourselves as personally committed not merely to freedom from oppression but to the full realization of all people’s individual potentialities. Year after year, we discover new understandings through this celebration. And, by sharing our values with our children, the next generation becomes inspired to bring light to the darkness through their acts of love and justice.
“Internal Spring” recognizes that as nature renews each spring with fresh blossoms, we must reawaken our own human nature by planting fresh dreams as seeds for a better future. Bring a potluck salad dish or dessert for eight people.
We revisit how earlier generations laid the foundation for the Ethical Society we now enjoy, notice what benefits we have personally inherited from their legacy, and consider what we want to bestow on future generations as their founders.
May includes a naming ceremony for newborns at the first Platform of that month. The regular Platform season ends the weekend before Memorial Day.
Coming of Age Ceremony
Culminating a year of personal exploration and growth, teens celebrate their transition from childhood to adulthood.
Membership Meeting and Potluck Dinner (First Sunday in June)
The Board and staff present an end of season evaluation, proposals for the season ahead, and a recommended budget for approval by the members. Votes from the mail-in ballots are counted, and the newly elected Trustees are announced.
Opening Sunday (Second Sunday in September)
Our season begins with a Platform led by Senior Leader, Amanda Poppei, re-inspiring us with our guiding vision of cultivating an Ethical Culture in the world today.
Community Sunday (Third Sunday in September) What we mean by “community – at its best” is explored by a member of our WES community or the larger community.
Children’s March of the Goblins (Last Sunday in October)
Our Sunday School Jr. High and Teen groups create a haunted house and Halloween party for the younger children, which takes place during Platform. The youngest children “trick or treat” in costume to raise money for Unicef.
Remembrance Day: Honoring Loved Ones (First Sunday in November)
Even after their death, people of importance in our lives continue to influence what we do and think. By acknowledging the blessings that they have given us, and understanding their mistakes, we can more fully benefit from their gifts and more readily pass their best to others. We explore the question: How can we elicit the best from our most significant relationships?
Stone Soup: Spirit of Thanksgiving (Sunday before Thanksgiving)
Our annual Thanksgiving celebration reflects on the abundance in our lives and prepares us to make the most of our own Thanksgiving with family and friends. Stone Soup is our meal and our metaphor. To dramatize that our bounty comes from what we individually and collectively contribute, we each place something in the great soup pot, and then we all feast on a soup richer than our simple offerings. The Sunday School children provide the stones, vegetables, and the magic. Adults bring apple cider, breads & spreads, and desserts. The feast is served immediately following the Platform. WESingers and the Children’s Dance Ensemble perform.
This event is WES’s annual solstice celebration, involving children of all ages as well as adults. Every year WES members gather in December to share comfort and hope. One or more talented members writes a play that dramatizes how we deal with the darkest days of the year while looking forward to the return of the sun and opportunities for renewal. The play is performed in a program that includes musical performances, refreshments, and much comic relief. We haven’t won any Theater Critics’ Awards but a good time is had by all. Friends and extended family are warmly encouraged to attend!