I’m giving a rather unusual ceremony this Sunday. It’s not a wedding, a funeral or a baby naming. And it’s not a coming of age ceremony, which is becoming more and more popular. It’s a family ceremony. Family ceremonies did not come up on the list of ceremonies I learned about on my celebrancy course, but people have approached me a few times about them since I qualified.
Reasons For Holding a Family Ceremony
Family ceremony is a flexible term for any ceremony that gives you a chance to celebrate your family and the bonds you share. If you’re the sort of couple who don’t like a fuss, your family ceremony makes a low-key, fun alternative to a wedding, anniversary celebration or vow renewal. Do you wish you could have had a baby naming for your older children? It’s not too late – you can celebrate all your children together with a family ceremony.
If you and your partner have children from previous relationships, a blended family ceremony is a great way of bringing you all together and create a new bond. You’re celebrating the shape of your new family and showing everyone in it that they are valued.
Have you recently adopted a child? Why not welcome them into your family with a family joining ceremony. This is particularly valuable if the child you have adopted is older. You are telling them that they have made your family complete.
Family ceremonies are great for families with young children because they’re so inclusive. You’ll have no worries about your children being bored and restless during a ceremony – they’re going to have a starring role in the ceremony.
Because you’ll be celebrating together, they’ll be doing the rituals with you. And if you want to hold their interest, the shorter the better. That’s why I’d recommend keeping your family ceremony at 16 minutes.
So, what happens in a family ceremony? Well, that’s up to you.
Because it’s such a new type of ceremony, you can feel free to invent your own. But here are some ideas.
The Power of Trees
Trees give life, and as a family, you give life to each other. Celebrate your growing family by planting a tree in your garden. The tree will grow along with your family, and every time you look at it, you’ll be reminded of the special family you shared.
You can also create a tree of life in your garden. You tie ribbons to the branches with pieces of paper attached to them. On those pieces of paper, you can write wishes for the future or words that you feel capture the spirit of your family, like loving, kind or fun.
Memories are the glue that hold a family together, and as part of your ceremony you can create a memory box to capture and store those memories. Ask everyone in the family to share memories of great times you’ve had, in the form of a drawing or a piece of writing.
Then you store them in a special box that you will then hide in the house and open again in five, ten or twenty years’ time. You’ll be able to feast on memories from that day which you might otherwise have lost.
There are lots of colourful family rituals you can do which remind you that your lives as a family are forever intertwined. They help you to strengthen your bonds and remind you that while you’re all individuals, you’re also one unit.
You’re always looking out for each other and always loving each other. Rituals that are ideal for young children include putting your handprints on a page or a family sand ceremony, where each of you pours sand into a decorative pot. These will then become permanent mementos of your day.
You can break up the rituals with more reflective moments – as long as you keep them short. There are lovely poems that capture the magic of childhood or family that you can use as readings.
You may decide you want to make promises to each other as a family. If you’re having a family ceremony as part of a wedding or vow renewal, you can make promises to each other and to your children, and your children can make promises to you.
Singing a song together is a truly joyous way of ending a ceremony. It doesn’t matter whether you can sing or not; just belt out those words. Get your children involved in choosing a song.
They might like a song from their favourite film or a silly song that gets everyone up and dancing. Something upbeat that you can dance along to would be perfect, and it’ll leave you with a good taste in your mouth and warmth in your heart.
Have you any thoughts about what you think would make a great family ceremony? Email firstname.lastname@example.org to share your thoughts.