4 meaningful family New Year (non-denominational) rituals.
Updated: Nov 12, 2020
Through living in different countries, travelling, and in-law family, I have celebrated New Year in different ways, such as Diwali, Chinese New Year and New Year’s Day.
They all speak to me of new beginnings, and that seems to be the theme for many cultures, indeed.
There are a few rituals we have done, as a family - and individually - over the years now, which have created a golden thread of continuity for our sons, without them becoming ‘dusty traditions’.
4 of our meaningful New Year rituals are:
1. YEARLY FAMILY PHOTO ALBUM
This began when I wanted to create a memento of my first son's first year of life.
Technology is great to keep photos in one place, and be able to document many instances, but I’ve noticed hardly anyone has time to sort through the hundreds and hundreds of electronic files and photos.
After my second son’s first-year-album I also realised it was not going be sustainable to do one album per child every year!
But I loved the process of remembering the amazing times and the new things we had all learned or experienced, individually and as family, and I wanted to keep it going.
I am not going to lie, it does take a bit of time and organisation, but once you start, it is definitely easier, and the reward is a hundred-fold.
My sons absolutely love looking through them at different times of the year; seeing how much they have also grown, places we have visited, friends they have made, events we have attended.
The how to:
a. My system includes setting a calendar notification at the end of every month to remind me to go through the photos of the last four weeks.
When for one reason or another I don’t manage the monthly ‘sorting’ session, I make sure I do it at the 3-month mark, and not any longer, otherwise it starts becoming burdensome and time-consuming.
b. I create a folder on my computer just with the photos I have selected.
c. I have an account with a photo-album platform that can save my templates, more or less, so I don’t have to start from scratch every year (make sure you remember your password!).
d. During November or December I start creating the album in the template so at the end of the year, or beginning of the next, I just add the last photos of
Christmas and New Year celebrations.
More culling happens at the stage of adding photos to the online template , as I often save more photos that I need/want; but that is an interesting process. You zoom in on the ones that are really important.
Our albums are either by month, for example the January page, February page etc. or by category. Some of the ones I’ve used are:
e. Lastly, I usually print two copies. One for us to keep, and one to send to my mum and sisters who live overseas.
f. When our printed copy arrives, I get all the meaningful bits and pieces I saved throughout the year, such as tickets of a theatre show we loved, or the wool-bracelet my sons received when they first started kindergarten, and make an envelope inside the back cover to put them all in.
2. RECAP OF THE YEAR / INTENTION FOR THE NEW YEAR
A few years ago, Alexx Stuart shared what I call 'a twist' to simply writing down New Year's resolutions.
My interpretation was to recall 2 main things:
a. What I cherished the most, what made me the happiest, what gave me the greatest feelings of peace, energy and satisfaction during the year that was about to finish, and...
b. The opposite of a. In other words, what I didn't like doing, what didn't give me energy, peace, satisfaction etc
And this is the most important part: DO MORE OF a! And focus on that for new year ahead.
I had discovered, and fell in love with, mind maps a few months before the first time I did this exercise, which is why my end-of-year-recaps are often in this form.
But they really can be in a way that you'd like. My only piece of advice would be to express it out. Instead of just think about it.
3. HOME RE-IMAGINED
I started getting interested in Feng Shui (Chinese geomancy) a few years ago. I think, for me, it was the fact that I love interior designing and appreciate aesthetically beautifully spaces.
I also love the idea of harmonious energy flowing in and out of our family, physical environment.
After getting a professional consultation one year, I now simply tap into the information readily available online to check in the main characteristics of the new Chinese New Year.
Once I have the basics, I add bits of colour here and there. Nothing major for us, but it is also an opportunity to spice things up inside the home, and create new experiences; as well as see things in different ways.
4. SEE THE SUNRISE - IF AT ALL POSSIBLE - ON THE FIRST OF JANUARY
We are not always in places where the sunrise can be seen, but if we are, I love starting the new year this way.
A few years ago we asked the kids if they wanted us to wake them up to see it. They did.
It was so special to see their faces realising what was actually happening.
It only dawn on me (pun intended!) that they had never seen the sunrise before.
Here's to new beginnings!