All Faiths Day

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All Faiths' Day is a holiday started by the Universal Terran Church in 2003. UTC member Beatrice Camp suggested the name to Rev. Mirlin Poplar when he proposed a special holiday that would recognize the three main religious holidays of the month of December, namely Yule, Christmas and Hanukkah.


The first All Faiths' Day celebration was Sunday, December 20 2003 at the home of Joshua Mandelstam in Canandaigua, New York. The second All Faiths' Day celebration was at the Rustic Village Clubhouse in Rochester, New York on December 12, 2004. The third All Faiths' Day was observed on December 10, 2005 in Rochester, New York, at the home of Kenneth Jacobs and in Florida at the home of Rev. Kourtnie James.

Originally, All Faiths Day combined three religious holidays; Yule, Christmas and Hanukkah. Kwanzaa was not represented because it is a cultural holiday and not a spiritual holiday.

Yule Observance

The typical observance has been presented as a trinity service, featuring three tables, one for Yule also known as the Winter Solstice, Christmas and Hanukkah. Yule is considered by many to be the oldest of the three holidays and because of that, it is presented first. The Yule table has been decorated with items traditionally associated with Yule such as a Yule log, yule tree, holly, poinsettias (the red leaves are said to represent the Sun) and a wreath (said to represent the "Wheel of the Year". A presenter, usually someone of the Pagan or Wiccan faith, addresses the assembled participants and explains the meaning of each item on the table, talks about the history of Yule and how it's many traditions have often been added to and confused with those of Christmas. The presenter also lights the Yule log and offers a Yule blessing.

Hanukkah Observance

Hannukah is the next oldest holiday, dating back to about 165 BCE, and it is the second holiday to be observed at a typical All Faiths Day observance. On the table is a menorah surrounded by various Jewish items and symbols. The story of Hanukkah and the miracle of the oil is told. The menorah is explained and a lighting is held. The number of candles lit on the All Faiths Day menorah depends upon which day of Hanukkah it currently happens to be. The menorah is lit and the menorah blessing is recited by members of the Jewish faith.

[[WWW]Menorah Blessing]

1. Baruch ata Hashem, Elokenu melech ha'olam, asher kidshanu b'mitzvotav v'tzivanu I'hadlik ner shel Chanukah.

(Blessed are You, Lord our God, King of the Universe, Who has sanctified us with His commandments, and has commanded us to light the Chanukah lamps.)

2. Baruch ata Hashem, Elokenu melech ha'olam, she'asah nisim la'avotenu, bayamim hahem bazeman hazeh.

(Blessed are You, Lord our God, King of the Universe, Who has done miracles for our fathers in bygone days, at this time.)

3. Baruch ata Hashem, Elokenu melech ha'olam, shehecheyanu, vekiyemanu vehigi'anu lazeman hazeh.

(Blessed are You, Lord our God, King of the Universe, Who has given us life, and has sustained us, and has brought us to this time.)

For more on this see: [[WWW]Hannukah Laws]

Christmas Observance

Being the youngest of the three holidays, Christmas is observed third. The table is adorned with a traditional nativity scene and items commonly associated with the birth of Christ. A presenter of the Christian faith tells the traditional story of the birth of Christ, gives a brief explanation of the Advent season, and talks about some of the traditions of the Christmas season that do not have origins that were borrowed from Yule. A white candle is lit to symbolize the Star Of Bethlehem that led the wise men to the baby Jesus while these verses from the Christian bible are read.

Luke 2:8-16

In the same region there were some shepherds staying out in the fields and keeping watch over their flock by night. And an angel of the Lord suddenly stood before them, and the glory of the Lord shone around them; and they were terribly frightened. But the angel said to them, "Do not be afraid; for behold, I bring you good news of great joy which will be for all the people; for today in the city of David there has been born for you a Savior, who is Christ the Lord. This will be a sign for you: you will find a baby wrapped in cloths and lying in a manger."

And suddenly there appeared with the angel a multitude of the heavenly host praising God and saying, "Glory to God in the highest, And on earth peace among men with whom He is pleased."

When the angels had gone away from them into heaven, the shepherds began saying to one another, "Let us go straight to Bethlehem then, and see this thing that has happened which the Lord has made known to us." So they came in a hurry and found their way to Mary and Joseph, and the baby as He lay in the manger.

Potlatch Tradition

In 2004, the Native American potlatch tradition was incorporated into the All Faiths Day observance with the addition of a fourth table. Participants placed various gifts on this table for anyone to take. Each person was allowed to take as many gifts from the table as they had given. If a person contributed one gift to the table, they could in turn take one gift. If they had contributed more than one, then they could also take more than one. The gifts were unwrapped and were often made by the contributor or were considered to be of special importance to the contributor. Those participating held hands and circled around the table three times. At the end of the third circulation, the particpants selected the gifts of their choice.

This tradition has been practiced by various Pagan and non-Pagan groups. It was introduced to the Universal Terran Church by Rev. Suzan McDermott-Measheaw, currently of the Circle Of All Paths in New York State, who learned of the tradition from the Web Path Center in Clyde, New York. While the tradition may or may not resemble the way Native Americans practice it, the spirit of giving selflessly is the main theme of the Uniterran practice of this tradition. The Universal Terran Church would welcome any Native American or group of Native Americans to assist with and add to the use of tradition.

Future Observances

Some of the members of The Universal Terran Church have expressed the desire to include the religious practices of many various faiths and religions regardless of whether or not there is a holiday in December for such faiths. Hindi, Islamic, and Buddhist traditions may be observed in the future, providing that practitioners of those faiths are willing to participate and that these religion's traditions can be observed without accidental offense or misrepresentation.

In 2004 it was decided that All Faiths' Day should be celebrated each year on the second Sunday of December, however, it has been suggested that the New York State group and the Florida group come together on a more convenient date to observe the holiday together.

Who can observe All Faiths Day?

All Faiths Day is a holiday that can be celebrated or observed by any individual or group, regardless of church affiliation or religion. It can be tailored to accommodate anyone's preferences or accommodations as long as the spirit of honoring the faiths and traditions of multiple faiths and religions is practiced. It can be used for the purposes of inter-religious education and promoting interfaith understanding and fellowship as well as religious freedom.

External links

*[WWW]The Universal Terran Church Website
*[WWW]New York Yahoo Group
*[WWW]Florida Yahoo Group
*[WWW]Witchvox Article - All Faiths Day 2004

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