Celebrating Saint's Feast Days
Peter Fournier and Catherine Fournier
Celebrating special feast days helps bring the liturgical life of the church into the life of the family and helps build and strengthen the domestic church. It is a way to make the celebrations of the Church, and the communion of saints a vibrant living thing for our children.
The communion of saints is an invaluable resource to us, a source of intercession, help and inspiration. Every struggle we face is shared by a saint. Every trial we encounter has been fought and won before by one of our brothers or sisters in Christ. Each saint has a unique story, some particular strength that they can bring to your family. Celebrating name days marks in some special way the feast day of the saint whose name is used as a baptismal or confirmation name. Canon law specifies that each baptismal name should contain a saint's name. The custom of choosing a confirmation name is not as common as it seems to have been 20 or 30 years ago. In its place, you could choose a patron for whom you feel a special affinity.
Other Feasts, like All Saint's Day, Epiphany, or the Feast of the Assumption can be celebrated in the family home as well. A special meal with some symbolic dishes, decorations and activities reflecting the theme of the celebration, and a gathering of friends and family can quickly become a tradition as well as a teaching experience for everyone.
This article will suggest a few ways to build on the 'theme' of a particular Feast Day. Please write to us with your ideas for a Feast Day celebration, and I will add them to this page.
Saint Augustine of Canterbury
submitted by: Yvonne Rinaldi
We had just finished reading "St. Augustine Goes to Kent" when we invented this game. The girls came up with making paper "boats". The sails had a large crosses in red. A long table was divided into two lanes lengthwise. One end had a flag that said "Rome", the other a flag that said "Kent".
Each race had the participant blowing through a straw to direct their boat from Rome to Kent! They all had a fun time designing the boats, as well as learning a bit about friction (needed paper clips for weight).
Saint Anthony of Egypt,
The Feast of Saint Anthony of Egypt the patron of gravediggers, is on January 17. Try renting 'Prince of Egypt' for some ideas for decorations with an Egyptian theme.
Saint Anthony spend time as a hermit and then came out of seclusion to teach. An activity echoing this would be to have participants go off by themselves and make up a rhyme or song, or story, then come back and tell it.
Perhaps you could do 'grab bags' in reverse, where the children could be given loot bags when they come to the party and they have to give it all away by the end of the party. (of course, they'd still 'get stuff' from all the other kids, so they wouldn't mind too much, but it would teach a valuable lesson about giving away your worldly goods.)
Saint Anthony of Padua
The Feast of Saint Anthony of Padua, the patron of lost items and a host of other things, is on June 13th. For his feast day, a lot of games with a treasure hunting theme, like fish ponds, or those games where you delve into tubs of sand or bran for gifts, or puzzles, mazes and scavenger hunts would all be appropriate. Saint Anthony is depicted carrying the Christ Child, piggy back games would be enjoyable.
Of course, you could put coins in the cake (caution for children under four!) and serve lots of food where stuff is hidden inside, like turnovers, ravioli (good Italian fare), or stuffed baked potatoes.
On the feast day of Saint Peter serve fresh fish, "Come and I will make you a fisher of men." A bonfire is traditional in some countries. I also stuck sparklers into a cake to symbolize the flames of the Holy Spirit.
For the feast day of Saint Matthew hide coins in the cake. Matthew was a tax collector, and his gospel says "The Word of God is like treasure in Heaven"
For the text of the classic book on celebrating namedays 'My Name Day, Come for Dessert', click here.
Another Domestic-Church.Com article on the subject, Celebrating Namedays
Lists of Patron Saints
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