Traditions Rich in Faith and Heritage

2017 is upon us and we can all look forward to what’s to come in the new year. Resurrection Catholic Parish in Lakeland has a diverse congregation and various ways of celebrating the New Years, Feast of the Epiphany, and making resolutions.

Resurrection Catholic School (RCS) Principal, Mrs. Deborah Schwope has a Polish background and her celebrations are based on Lithuanian tradition carried on by her family.  Mrs. Schwope decribed one unique aspect, “The first person to enter the house on New Year’s Day should be a blonde-haired boy,” she said. It is believed it would bring good luck for the year. “It was always my blonde headed brother!” she said adding, “I always invite my children to come to dinner on New Year’s Day and my blonde haired grandsons enter the house first to bring me good luck.”

Mrs. Schwope has very interesting traditions for the Epiphany as well. “On the Feast of the Epiphany we bless our house with holy water and mark the symbol 20 + C + M + B + 17. The letters C, M, B have two meanings. They are the initials for the names of the three magi: Caspar, Melchior, and Balthazar. They also abbreviate the Latin words Christus mansionem benedicat, or ‘May Christ bless the house,’” she said.  “The “+” signs represent the cross and 2017 is the year.”  She keeps her holy water in her grandmother’s cookie jar which is in the shape of a Franciscan Brother who has written on his ample belly, “Thou shall not steal.”  Schwope smiled and said, “Then they bake cookies to fill the belly of the cookie jar so we are blessed with good food all year long.”  Personally, this writer loves that idea!

Sydney H. is a 7th grader at RCS said her traditions are rooted in spending quality time with family on New Year’s Eve.  “My family went to Circle B and hiked,” she said. Sydney explained that afterward they went out to a favorite restaurant and to see a movie together.  The night was young and the tradition is to watch the ball drop, so they went home and “played cards, and watched the ball drop. We celebrated with sparkling apple juice.”  Spending time together as a family is special to the Harrington’s.

Sydney also believes in resolutions built around faith and personal growth. Her faith-based resolutions and personal goals are as follows: “To live a simpler life, one with God and not false worship items. Pray more…. picking a theme for each prayer instead of saying the same ones. To be thankful for what I have and not what I don’t and to let God into my life and let him work through me.”

These were followed by personal goals to “Set specific goals and achieve them with hard work. To be a better more trustworthy person, and to be mature in actions, thoughts, and words, and have a healthier diet”.  All admirable goals!

The New Year is a time of reflection, and each of us should not only look back and evaluate the previous year, but look forward to reaching new heights in the year to come!  We should also consider establishing our own family traditions if none currently exist, to celebrate the New Year and the Epiphany.

Article written by Samantha L., a 7th grader at Resurrection Catholic School, Lakeland.