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Chalica – A Unitarian Universalist Holiday Celebration

This sweet post was sent in by Anne from harvestmoonbyhand on Etsy. I hope you all enjoy her lovely post and photos.


During December our family celebrates a variety of holidays or special days. Sometimes, we honor these days in their entirety (e.g., Advent, St. Nicholas Day, St. Lucia Day, Winter Solstice, Christmas).

St. Nicholas Visit - Olivia with her Shoe
Olivia with her shoe filled with treats from St. Nicholas.

Other times we acknowledge the first day of the holiday (e.g., Hanukkah, Las Posadas) by having a special meal, reading books about the holiday, talking about its meaning, and doing an activity.

Las Posadas Meal
Sophia and Olivia eating a meal to celebrate Las Posadas.

This is something that I began doing once my daughters were adopted and they were old enough to actively participate and enjoy different holidays (about 2-5 years old). I did not introduce all these special days at one time. Rather, they were introduced gradually and incorporated into our holiday plans.

This year we are starting a new tradition: Chalica. As a Unitarian Universalist, I was happy to discover a relatively new holiday that was started a couple of years ago. It is seven days long and begins on the first Monday in December.

Each day represents a different Unitarian Universalist Principle. A chalice is lit each day; and actions, gifts, or volunteering that expresses the day’s Principle may be given and received. One can have seven different chalices or one common chalice.

Nature Table Candles Lit
One candle or seven candles can be lit for Chalica.

The days and Principles are:

Monday: We light our chalice for the inherent worth and dignity of every person.

Tuesday: We light our chalice for justice, equity, and compassion in human relations.

Wednesday: We light our chalice for acceptance of one another and encouragement to spiritual growth.

Thursday: We light our chalice for a free and responsible search for truth and meaning.

Friday: We light our chalice for the right of conscience and the use of the democratic process in society at large.

Saturday: We light our chalice for the goal of world peace, liberty, and justice for all.

Sunday: We light our chalice for respect for the interdependent web of all existence of which we are a part.

As with the other holidays that we celebrate, we have adapted Chalica to fit our schedule and what is realistically possible to do during December.

So, I decided to adapt Chalica so that we focus on the first Principle during December and do four activities related to it:

=> Send a letter and pictures that my daughters colored to environmental activist Tim DeChristopher who is serving a two-year sentence for nonviolent civil disobedience. He served one year in prison and now is living in a half-way house until his sentence is complete.

Tim disrupted a government auction of public lands in Utah in 2001. As a result, thousands of acres of land adjacent to a national park are still preserved. More information about Tim can be read on the Unitarian Universalist Association’s website or Peaceful Uprising’s website.

=> Visit a person from church who is recovering from being hospitalized and/or someone who is in a nursing home who would welcome a visit. My oldest daughter will bring her harp and play a few pieces on it during the visit.

Sophia Playing the Harp
Sophia playing the harp for her grandmother in April 2012.
Her grandmother was on a short home-visit from the nursing home
when she was recovering from a broken ankle.

=> Make and donate two sensory/activity lap quilts to a nursing home where my Dad was a resident from October 3, 2011-January 5, 2012. The quilts will be designed to be used by seniors who have Alzheimer’s Disease (like my father had) who need to keep their fingers occupied to help reduce stress and anxiety.

Sensory and Memory Quilt
This is the sensory and photo quilt that I made for my father
shortly after he was diagnosed with Alzheimer’s Disease.
It provided comfort to him and gave his hands something to touch
(there are many different textures and types of fabric used).

The remaining six Principles we will work on from January-June. In this way, we are able to put some time and thought into Chalica; and put our faith into action. Beginning Chalica on December 3rd and doing a variety of activities will make our holiday much more meaningful and memorable this year.

3 thoughts on “Chalica – A Unitarian Universalist Holiday Celebration

  1. It’s great to hear about new traditions! I could see our family do the Chalica.Those principles sounds very true to me.

  2. What a beautiful post and tradition! I love your sensory quilt! & your activities for your girls. Your faith is indeed in action!

  3. Thank you, Becca and Andreann for your kind comments!

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