Merry Christmas and Happy Holidays

At the Fifth Principle Project, we wish everyone a Merry Christmas and Happy Holidays. This season is a time for joy and celebration—a time for family and gratitude.

We are very grateful for the support of our 792 members, a membership that makes the Fifth Principle Project among the largest member organizations in the UU denomination. We are grateful that in this time of tumult and upcoming decisions on the fate of UU liberalism, UUs have a forum to share ideas and express concern or hope.

Three years ago, we wrote Used to Be UU and established this website because we realized there was no mechanism provided by the Unitarian Universalist Association for everyday UUs to communicate with one another. As we wrote in the Introduction of our book

Having a denomination-wide conversation is difficult since the UUA Board controls all channels for mass communication, the Association’s budget, and sets the agenda for General Assembly. We have no way of communicating with UUs across the nation.

We are grateful that our mission to give UUs a voice in the debate has succeeded, at least in some small measure.

We will be taking the holidays off and resuming in January, but we wish everyone a Merry Christmas and Happy Holidays.

First, we must attend to two housekeeping details.

Apology Offered

In our Financial Times Article posted December 12, 2023, we had a technical problem with the free link to Jemima Kelly’s article, “The culture wars dividing America’s most liberal church.” We later posted a PDF link. A reader also provided a link to an archive version of the article.

Kelly’s article was the first time a major news outlet has covered the evolving situation within the denomination. We felt a responsibility to make UUs aware of this coverage.

Sorry, No Chalica for You!

We regret that holiday cheer is not in the air from our national UU leadership. After lending support for over a dozen years to the UU-centric holiday called Chalica, our Association leadership has decreed that UUs should no longer celebrate Chalica.

Chalica, although not widely known or celebrated, was started in 2005 by Daylene Marshall when she was a student at the Vancouver School of Theology in Vancouver, British Columbia. Quoting from a 2009 UU World article, “Chalica, new weeklong UU holiday, slowly gains adherents.”

I don’t remember where the initial conversation started. I had been talking with a UU friend from Seattle about winter holidays and the fact there should be a UU holiday.

The Ritual

Chalica is a celebration of Unitarian Universalism’s Seven Principles. The general outline of the ritual is to light a candle on the first Monday of December and recite and reflect upon a UU Principle. There are variations, such as celebrating a Principle once a week for seven weeks.

There is no rule for how the chalice or display should look, but there are traditionally seven candles around the chalice, one for each principle. Activities on each day vary and may include discussions, group activities, and songs.

Bah Humbug

In a December 9, 2023, update to the Chalica page on the UUA website, UUs were directed “to refrain from engaging in Chalica-related activities.” The decree was issued because the lighting of seven candles “felt like a harmful appropriation of holidays like Kwanzaa and Hanukkah.” It continued,

Out of respect for faith traditions and people who have been historically marginalized, we encourage Unitarian Universalists to refrain from engaging in Chalica-related activities—and to use these new understandings to help us recognize appropriation.

Let’s all hope Charles Dickens’s ghosts of Christmas past, present, and future have a visit to our UU leadership on their calendars.

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Maureen McConaghy
Maureen McConaghy
5 months ago

Re Chalica: Whatever happened to “Imitation is the sincerest form of flattery”?

A. Anne Holcomb
A. Anne Holcomb
5 months ago

The Pot Calling the Kettle Black: So, creating a UU-specific holiday is cultural appropriation, but a a non-Jewish, U.U. church celebrating Hanukkah during a U.U. service, or a majority White U.U. church celebrating Kwanzaa, or a non-Pagan U.U. church celebrating Solstice, or a non-Christian U.U. church celebrating Christmas and Easter, is NOT cultural appropriation? Doesn’t the U.U. religion unabashedly appropriate religious and cultural observances from a wide variety of sources as a foundation of its faith? Or is Chalicia deemed “not OK” because it is celebrated over 7 nights and uses candles? What about non-Christian U.U.s lighting Advent candles? Or… Read more »

Peter Aitken
Peter Aitken
5 months ago

If Chalica was created by queer female minorities, the UUA would be all over it with promotions and encouragement. But it seems like there are too many white and straight people behind it, so the holiday is automatically condemned. Yet another sad reflection on the new UUA.

David
David
5 months ago

I’m Jewish and admit that it bothered me that Chalica seemed to mimic Hannuka. But not bothered enough that I would even suggest that others not feel free to celebrate it. And, as noted in another post, every tradition, holiday, and religion adopt traditions from other cultures, including Judaism. And things such as lighting candles and celebrating things over multiple days are near universal around the world. As well noted, UU is a non-Christian church that borrows heavily and constantly from Christian traditions and holidays. Many services resemble a Christian church service but without the invoking of Jesus. I believe… Read more »

Helen Borland
Helen Borland
5 months ago
Reply to  David

Amen! Or is that cultural appropriation?

David
David
5 months ago
Reply to  Helen Borland

This is yet another instance where the UUA leadership and communications appear to be dishonest and insincere about why it does things. It is a church higherarchy that is disingenuous with its followers, and has become a church of information control and propaganda.

Perhaps they’ve cataloged being honest and sincere to laity as “a trait of white supremacy culture.” They’ve already cataloged reason, logic, science, and being on time for your doctor’s appointment that way.

Eric
Eric
5 months ago
Reply to  Helen Borland

It’s sexist. Try “Awomxyn” instead.

Last edited 5 months ago by Eric
Gary Schmidt
Gary Schmidt
5 months ago
Reply to  David

Certainly part of the plan to do away with 7 Principles. UUA has already registered and is licensing the 6 pedal logo. Perhaps “Daisya” – 6 days of contemplating the wonder of flowers. But that may be appropriating Hippie Culture.

Eric Schuman
Eric Schuman
5 months ago

If I didn’t know this was factual, I would believe it was skit material on Saturday Night Live.

Margaret
Margaret
5 months ago
Reply to  Eric Schuman

HaHaHaHa!

Lincoln Christensen
Lincoln Christensen
5 months ago

Freedom of thought and search for meaning allows us to celebrate any fXXXXng holiday we want… The UUA didn’t invent it. My Xmas wish: In the coming year may the nation of Unitarian Universalists stop punishing themselves for being well-educated, stop flogging themselves for doing things that other religions do for fear of “appropriation”, and being entitled enough to know what is right and wrong in the politic and societal lives in the United States. You were born fortunate, an act of sheer chance. Use it.

A Anne Holcomb
A Anne Holcomb
5 months ago

Exactly!

Terri
Terri
5 months ago

First, thanks to Jay and Frank for writing Used to Be UU. It’s a great book, and I am enjoying it immensely, as it sits on my coffee table and gets read every day! I’m literally savoring it. 🙂 I loved, also, discovering, at the beginning of this month, and celebrating Chalica! It was as big as most any Christmas present I’ve ever gotten, and that’s saying a lot. Many belong to this “religion” because of the Seven Principles, and to have a chance to hold them up, review them, explore what they mean to us, and celebrate them, each… Read more »

A Anne Holcomb
A Anne Holcomb
5 months ago
Reply to  Terri

Maybe that “another name” will become the North American Unitarian Association?

David Willkomm
David Willkomm
5 months ago
Reply to  Terri

Hi Terri,
Yes I agree with you Jay & Frank have done much to let UU’s be aware of current UUA activities that are counter productive.

Jack Reich
Jack Reich
5 months ago

I have heard that the UUA administration is shortly going to communicate to all UUs, worldwide, that they cease and desist from the harmful practice known as worshipping God, and do so immediately. It is now regarded as a harmful appropriation from rival ancient traditions to which the worship of a deity has long been held central, before UUs ever thought of adopting it. Liturgical and ritual practices such as Bible readings, the singing of hymns, the reliance on “Prayer”, are all aspects of a wholesome and consistent religious orientation, such as is practiced in Judaism, Christianity, and Islam, in… Read more »

Jim
Jim
5 months ago
Reply to  Jack Reich

If anyone can name something, anything, they use, wear, do or say that was not appropriated from other cultures and traditions I have a fabulous prize awaiting. Please post your entrees below and be prepared to defend your answer.

Frank Casper
Frank Casper
5 months ago
Reply to  Jack Reich

I hope they do.

A Anne Holcomb
A Anne Holcomb
5 months ago
Reply to  Jack Reich

Love this! Jack, you are even more snarky than my first post on this topic! Snark, farce, and sarcasm are certainly called for here.

Joyce Kinnear
Joyce Kinnear
5 months ago

I remember with great fondness teaching the RE curriculum, Holidays and Holy Days, where we taught about religious observances each week and even participated in other churches and synagogues. I suppose those days in the UuA are long over, as certainly they would say that any observance of another religion or ethnic groups’ special days would be appropriation of some sort As someone who has lived outside the US for about one fifth of my life in different countries, I can assure you that the entire world is appropriating each other’s holidays. May we continue to appropriate and share each… Read more »

Last edited 5 months ago by Joyce Kinnear
Mary
Mary
5 months ago

This Chalica issue speaks volumes! Same BS! This year our home will make a point of celebrating Chalica.

Barbara Keating
Barbara Keating
5 months ago

Thank you. Accusations of “cultural appropriation” seems contradictory to the beloved concept of The Living Tradition and Six Sources which always reminded of a Monique Wittig quote on page 75 in the book I used in 1980’s for a class on “Women’s Spirituality and Social Change”: Spretnak, Charlene, Ed. The Politics of Women’s Spirituality:  Essays on the Rise of Spiritual Power within the Feminist Movement (1982 NY: Anchor): “There was a time when you were not a slave.  Remember that.  You walked alone, full of laughter, you bathed bare-bellied. … You say there are no words to describe this time, you say it does not… Read more »

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