Religious Education News

February, My Least Favorite Month

A Religious Education message from Tammy Stolzman

“February is my least favorite month of the year.” This is the first thing that comes to mind every time I think of February. And not too long after that first thought is “Aw come on, it’s not so bad. Maybe I should cut it a little slack.” And so it went when I started thinking about this newsletter article. Then, having tasked myself with digging deep for things that I like about February, I found it wasn’t that hard. Bright sunny winter days are fantastic! They are brisk, fresh, exhilarating and on top of that you can enjoy them knowing that Spring is coming soon(ish). So why not appreciate winter while it lasts? And so I will.

Also, kicking off the month is Groundhog Day and what’s not to like about that? (Well except the prospect of the groundhog seeing his shadow and ushering in 6 more weeks of winter.) I’ve always liked Groundhog Day. When I was a kid we paid attention to whether Punxsutawney Phil saw his shadow even though, growing up in Wisconsin, it seemed sort of pointless because six more weeks of winter was pretty much a given. At some point we added exchanging silly gifts and cards too. I now realize that this goofy holiday coincides with the Pagan holiday Imbolc marking the halfway point between winter solstice and the spring equinox and the Christian holiday of Candlemass. Of course, this is no coincidence as Groundhog Day is largely thought to be an offshoot of a German Candlemass tradition and likewise aspects of Candlemass come from the more ancient Imbolc holiday.

Thinking of how these three holidays are connected led me to consider our ministry theme for February, “Widening the Circle.” To me, the way the traditions and rituals of the ancient Imbolc holiday, Christian Candlemass, and the much younger Groundhog Day intertwine and overlap seems to be an example of how beliefs are borrowed, stretched and eventually evolve. It is not unique. It happens all the time. By adopting and tweaking customs to include more people, organizations and communities seek to widen their circle.

The Religious Education program at UUS:E is no different. We are constantly looking for new ways to connect with RE families and their children and reevaluating how we do Sunday mornings—especially these last few years!

When I try to get my head around what “Widening the Circle” really means to me, it is difficult to pinpoint any one idea. It is about inclusion. It is about opening up our community and ourselves to more diversity. It is about combating systemic racism and white supremacy culture. It is about being curious and willing to learn about other people and what their life looks like from day to day. It is about making the effort to try, and to keep trying, to be better. And, it is very much about our first Unitarian Universalist principle, the inherent worth and dignity of every person. Or, as we like to say in RE, “One—each person is important.”

As we continue with another crazy COVID year in RE all we can do is take life as it comes and remember to enjoy what is happening now (even if it is six more weeks of winter). I am grateful for everyone who works hard to keep us going – I’m looking at you Gina, Heather, my fellow committee members, and all of the wonderful RE volunteers.


Thank You,

Tammy Stolzman