While we check out Pinterest for new ways to tie a bow or do a browser search for “Christmas Tree Themes” (You’ve got to check these out!) because your bored with the same ‘ole Christmas tree, there is nothing more comforting than tried and true traditions from the von Trapp family.
While known best for the movie, The Sound of Music, Georg, Maria von Trapp and her 10 kids (7 were from Georg and his previous wife who died of Scarlet fever, and 3 were their own), disciplined and focused her traditions upon the liturgical year. Around the Year with the Von Trapp Family is a great resource to bring more joy all year round, while always pointing toward towards the Lord. Here are a few ideas to add to your traditions:
Advent Saints and Calendar
We all count down the weeks to Christmas with the Advent wreath, but how about adding an Advent Saint to study and share. Each person researches and shares information about the saint they picked and asks for their intersession!
How about recreating this homemade Advent Calendar modeled after Jacob’s Ladder! Instead of candy or a small toy that our modern day calendars contain, she would have a painted star or angel leading up to a Christmas Tree or the Holy Child, to be opened on Christmas Eve. What a simple time!
Trimming the Tree
While I don’t recommend the candles they used to light the tree, I do find this instruction on how to make an angel for the tree quite amusing.
Along with simple decorations such as cookies, apples and shapes made from aluminum foil.
Blessing the home on Epiphany
Maria explains the ‘earlier times’ of where people would burn incense in the home and barn on each night of the 12 days of Christmas. The morning after the Epiphany Mass, we are called to write in chalk the year along with the blessing to protect the house from evil spirits.
For the upcoming year, we would write 20+C+M+B+19 (with or without the +) The C M B are the initials for traditional names for the Three Kings.
Fasting for Lent
Lent is primarily known as a time devoted to fast and abstinence. Our non-Catholic friends feel sorry for us because we have to watch our food. “Isn’t it an awful strain?”
Makes me laugh, as my non-Catholic friends say the same thing 60 years later! The history and tradition she writes is so interesting and calls us to change our hearts to celebrate the Crucifix and Resurrection of our Lord.
Tradition breaking of the Easter Eggs
Traditionally a festive dinner of ham and Easter bread, why not play a little game of “break the Easter Egg”! Each person takes an egg and by twos, “they try to ‘peck’ the other one’s egg first. The one who dents the other’s egg, while his own remains uncracked, harvests the cracked egg. The one who finally has the most is hailed as victor.” This could be very interesting!
Marian Shrines to honor our Mother
Maria tells us about the two months honored for Mary, May and October, and how to build a shrine to honor Mary. She writes about how during May, the whole family could have their May devotion outside. “We must lose the inhibition that our friends or neighbors ‘might mind’ such an exhibition of our Faith.”
Celebration for All Souls’ Day
We may just say a prayer for a lost loved one on All Souls’ day, but Maria took it a step further. She would have her children light their baptismal candle and remind them of their baptism promises. When they lived close to the cemetery where their loved ones were, it was a day to visit them and lay flowers and a crucifix.
These are beautiful traditions of old times where they slowed down and truly honored the Lord on these special occasions. The history and richness of each Liturgical season is laid out so well and simply, we can add some of these into our family rituals and make them our own traditions. Around the Year with the von Trapp Family by Maria Von Trapp, is a great resource to bring back some of these classic traditions and foundations to strengthen our faith and family.