Introductory Materials

Treasury of Celebrations:

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From Alternatives' Treasury of Celebrations, published by Northstone Books. The entire 288 page book is available for $12.

Items from the books "Treasury of Celebrations" and "To Celebrate: Reshaping Holidays and Rites of Passage" are Free Resources on our Website. These are text files. If you want the graphics and formatting, get the whole book.

You're welcome to download and copy this information -- but not sell it -- as long as you include on each copy: "©Creative Commons. Used by permission. For more ideas to simplify your life, visit SimpleLivingWorks.org"



TABLE of CONTENTS (of the book)

Preface xx

Introduction xx

Part 1: Making Choices

Simple Living


Food and Celebrations

Getting Started

Part 2: Gifts

Part 3: The Celebrations

January, February, March, April

May, June, July, August

September, October, November, December

Part 4: Rites of Passage

Appendix xx



A Word from Alternatives for Simple Living

Alternatives for Simple Living - generally known as Alternatives - is a nonprofit organization whose mission is to "equip people of faith to challenge consumerism, live justly, and celebrate responsibly." Started in 1973 as a protest against the commercialization of Christmas, it encourages celebrations year-round that reflect conscientious ways of living. Throughout its 23-year history, Alternatives has led the movement to live more simply and faithfully. Alternatives emphasizes relationships and traditions over things, hoping to avoid stress and debt, and promoting alternative giving - helping the truly needy instead of splurging on ourselves.

Alternatives has developed a wide variety of resources (some in Spanish), led workshops, published six editions of the Alternative Celebrations Catalogue, and a quarterly magazine. Their most recent video, Break Forth into Joy!: Beyond a Consumer Lifestyle, won a gold medal at the Houston International Film Festival (religion and ethics division). Alternatives' annual booklet, Whose Birthday Is It, Anyway? has been published since 1988 and is available in 20 different editions for various denominations. It contains an Advent calendar, biblical reflections for Advent and Christmas, activities, and articles.

Alternatives' current catalogue of resources includes material produced by Alternatives, and also books and resources from other publishers on simple living and related subjects such as hunger, the environment, and media literacy. Because Alternatives provides resources for celebrations, they have adopted the motto, "Resources for responsibly living and celebrating since 1973."

A Word from the Editor

It has been a pleasure to work with Alternatives material, and to work with Michael Schwartzentruber at one of Canada's newest publishers, Northstone Publishing, Inc.

Many articles in this book have been previously published in one of the six editions of the Alternatives Catalogue. Although some editorial work was required to update statistics, and a few articles and ideas have been added, it was a surprise to see how the thinking behind creative simplicity needs little change and no apology in 1996. Creative simplicity in the 70s and 80s, perhaps, was ahead of its time. There is no question that as we approach the end of the millennium the lifestyles described in this book are necessary and welcome.

I dedicate this book to children everywhere. Children deserve the best life can offer - a peaceful, clean, just, and safe world. May readers find encouragement and practical ideas on these pages to help bring that about.



Reshaping Our Celebrations

This is a book about joy, spontaneity, caring, justice, and concern for nature. It is a book about celebrating, a book for those who are not satisfied with the models of celebration offered by a consumer society. This book includes the experiences of people with widely varying backgrounds and perspectives, people whose celebrations give voice to the ideals by which they are trying to live.

There is a tradition which holds that the most rewarding life is one shaped around our highest civic and religious ideals, and that the arena for practicing these ideals is in the routine of daily life. It is, to be sure, a minority tradition and it stands in stark contrast to the traditions of the majority - a life of self-gratification through consumption regardless of the adverse effects on other people, on the environment, and even on our own spirits.

In her book, Living More With Less, Doris Janzen Longacre gave voice to that old tradition. She proposed five "life standards" as guides for living according to our highest ideals. While neither new nor unique, these simple life standards are an important framework for thinking about what it means to live responsibly today:

Celebrations: Regaining perspective

While preoccupation with the details of living makes these ideals seem remote, celebrations are opportunities to regain perspective. Celebrations are ritualized interruptions in daily life that give focus to life's meaning and purpose. Whether in public or private worship or in observing a birthday or a national holiday, celebrations remind us of who we are, where we have been, and where we want to go. For people committed to living by ideals, celebrations are indispensable.

The experiences which make up the heart of this book are like a symphony with many moods and tempos: certain themes recur again and again to undergird and give coherence to the whole.

While these themes recur throughout the many celebration experiences in this book, readers may not find the "ideal" celebration for each holiday or rite of passage. Our intent is to offer possibilities for breaking the tyranny imposed by society (and family) on celebrations, not to impose new ones. We know how far our celebrations are from our ideals. How we go about breaking free of these restrictions and creating new ways of celebrating are matters for individuals and their celebrating communities to decide.

Celebrations as identification

"Let all who are hungry enter and eat," is the way the Jewish Passover Seder begins. It catches that essential element in all genuine celebration: reaffirming our kinship with all humankind. This identification in celebration occurs in three ways:

1. The content of the celebration: When we observe Martin Luther King, Jr.'s birthday, we identify with the struggles of Afro-Americans. In Advent, we experience the fears and hopes of a minority people in the first century. At a funeral, we hurt with those who suffer the loss of a loved one. At a wedding, we rejoice with two people who publicly declare their joy in a new covenant relationship.

2. The manner of the celebration: While celebrations often revolve around family and community, they can be enriched by including those who would otherwise be left without community at times of celebration.

3. The outcome of the celebration: To identify with others in our celebrating means more than remembering our ties to the whole of humanity, and more than occasions to practice inclusiveness in our households. Celebrations are also occasions to identify with others by diverting resources of time, energy, and money to those who are in need. Although celebrations are symbolic acts, resources diverted from celebrations are concrete ways to identify with others.

Welcome in to a new/old way of viewing and celebrating Earth and our fellow travelers on the planet!


Publication data

Editor: Michael Schwartzentruber
Cover design: Lois Huey-Heck
Consulting art director: Robert MacDonald

Northstone Publishing Inc. is an employee-owned company, committed to caring for the environment and all creation. Northstone recycles, reuses and composts, and encourages readers to do the same. Resources are printed on recycled paper and more environmentally friendly groundwood papers (newsprint), whenever possible. The trees used are replaced through donations to the Scoutrees For Canada Program. Ten percent of all profit is donated to charitable organizations.

Canadian Cataloguing in Publication Data

Main entry under title:

Treasury of celebrations

ISBN 1-55145-088-7

1. Holidays. 2. Anniversaries. 3. Simplicity. 4. Conduct of life. I. Pogue, Carolyn, 1948-

GT3930.T73 1996 394.2 C96-910435-9

Copyright © 1973, 1974, 1975, 1978, 1987 Alternatives.

Some materials Copyright © 1982 Pilgrim Press.

Licensed 1996 to Northstone Publishing Inc.

All rights reserved. No part of this publication may be reproduced - except in the case of brief quotations embodied in critical articles and reviews - stored in an electronic retrieval system, or transmitted in any form or by any means, electronic, mechanical, photocopying, recording, or otherwise, without prior written permission of the publisher or copyright holder.

Published by Northstone Publishing Inc.

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