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Spring has sprung!!
At least according to various calendars of the world’s faith traditions. Already in January, we had Lohri, Maghi, and Makar Sankranti – festivals that occur at the end of the winter solstice month according to the Hindu calendar. Feb. brings even more spring festivals, plus a few others.

Here are a few of the holidays that fall in February.

Imbolc/Feast of St. Brigid (Feb. 2): This cross-quarter holiday (pronounced i “as in dig”-mulk) marks the start of spring (in the Northern hemisphere) on the Pagan Wheel of the Year. Brigid was the ancient Celtic goddess of fertility, healing, poetry, and the hearth. She was so revered that Christians had a hard time removing her from the hearts and minds of the people, so she became Saint Brigid of Kildare. Their legends are now inextricably intertwined. It’s also relevant that Feb. 2 is Groundhog’s Day – a nod to the divination abilities of the ancient goddess. Click here for more.

Setsubun (Feb. 3): This ancient Shinto holiday marks the start of spring in Japan. Most festivities center on rituals that chase away evil spirits. Hundreds of years ago, burning dried sardine heads and banging drums was all the rage. Nowadays, you’re more likely to see demon masks and the throwing of roasted beans. Click here for more.

Maha Shivaratri (Feb. 21): This Hindu holiday is celebrated throughout India to honor Shiva, one of the three primary deities in that set of traditions. Legends suggest that Shiva first danced the Tandava on this day and/or that Lord Shiva and Parvati married on this day. Rituals include bathing a Shiva linga either at home or at a temple. Click here for more.

Ash Wednesday (Feb. 26): This holy day for non-Orthodox Christians is usually observed by placing ashes on one’s forehead. It marks the start of Lent, the 40-day period leading up to Easter. We’re keeping this one short since most people on this list are probably familiar with Ash Wednesday, but click here if you’re looking for a bit more.

Tying Clouties
For thousands of years, in the pagan traditions, people have tried strips of cloth to trees growing near water wells. These strips of cloth are called “cloots” or “clouties.” People tie clouties for various reasons – as acts of gratitude, as requests for healing, or simply as prayers.

To tie clouties, simply cut small strips of cloth. The measurements don’t need to be exact, but something in the range of 1” x 8” works well. Encourage kids to think of something they are thankful for or something they want to pray for. Then, tie the clootie onto a branch. That’s it!

Sometimes, we buy a small tree, tie on the clouties, and then leave the tree in the classroom for the rest of the season. Sometimes, we go outside to tie our clouties. Sometimes, we send clouties home with the kids, so their families can tie the clouties to small trees in their home or yard.

Young children might need help with the tying part, but this activity can be done with all ages (as well as with adults)! Here’s one of our Brigid ceremony photos with Byron Ballard (aka Asheville’s Village Witch) tying on a cloutie.

Additional Reading & Activities

This interfaith book about “Holidays of Repentance” includes info. on Lent, Yom Kippur, and Vassa (Buddhist tradition). It was published in 2018 and is geared to kids in middle school and high school. An older version (Lent, Yom Kippur, and Other Atonement Days, 2009) authored by Amy Hackney Blackwell can be found in some libraries.


More Reading

We’ve written posts on several of Feb. holy days mentioned above. Here are a few links.
Brigid for Kids
Setsubun: Shinto Spring! (with some great videos at the end)
Sunday School Ideas for Lent
And don’t forget…if you’d like to receive daily tips, please join our public FB group: Faith Seeker Kids

New Book Update!!

A draft layout of our upcoming book, We All Have Sacred Spaces, is back from the designer! And the cover design is coming soon, too!

The book, geared to kids age 4-10, highlights Indigenous sites, Hindu temples, Christian churches, Islamic mosques, and Sikh gurdwaras. Stay tuned for our exact publication date!  

Curriculum Spotlight

Interfaith Made Easy Unit #1 Middle School (Digital)
Interfaith Made Easy Unit #1 Middle School (Digital)
Interfaith Made Easy, Unit #1, Peace Lower Elementary (Hard Copy)
Interfaith Made Easy, Unit #1, Peace Lower Elementary (Hard Copy)
Copyright © 2020 Possibilities Publishing Company, All rights reserved.

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