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Adding Fuel to Chalica's Fire
Adding Fuel to Chalica's Fire
Every December, the same old argument flares up on Facebook. Before Facebook, it would blow up on Livejournal and before Livejournal it would blow up on listservs. Maybe next year, it will flare up on Instagram or we'll be having Snapchat arguments about it. What is so controversial about it that it comes around every December like FoxNews' "War on Christmas"? Chalica, of course. What I find most interesting about Chalica is how explosive it is. Every December 1st, everybody has to let their hate or love of Chalica be known. But what is Chalica? Chalica was invented by a Unitarian Universalist(UU) young adult to celebrate the holiday spirit in the manner of Festivus (which was a Seinfeld thing...I don't get it either). It came about after a discussion around the holidays and the wish for a UU holiday. A wish for a UU holiday is nothing new. An informal poll of people "raised UU" (which includes folks who found UUism as youth or young adults) reveals that almost every single one wished for or discussed a UU holiday with their peers. This poll also revealed that at various times programs like a UU boarding school or university were dreamt about as well. Friends, this is perfectly okay. If you love Unitarian Universalism and want to celebrate at home, then celebrate Chalica. Also look at other ways to bring Unitarian Universalism in to your home through artwork (guilty), spiritual practices (light a chalice), or any number of alternative practices. And my other friends, Chalica is not perfect. I hear you. It does appropriate a lot of Hanukkah practices. It does turn our principles from a covenant into a creed. But instead of complaining about it on Facebook, I challenge you to find a way to create a meaningful UU bome-based ritual. Maybe we really do need a uniquely UU holiday. Someone proposed Consolidation Sunday as a UU holiday, a celebration of both Unitarianism, Universalism and the merger of the two. In the comments below, let me know what you think Consolidation Sunday would look like.   Below you can find a couple of alternatives to Chalica: From Rev. Dr. Michael Tino "A UU Home for the Holidays" From UU Church of Little Rock "Illumination" From Amy Zucker Morgenstern "A Few Words About Chalica"

About the Author

  • Bart joined the Office of Youth and Young Adult Ministries in 2014. As a lifelong Unitarian Universalist (UU), he has a great passion for youth and young adult ministry. Bart served the First Unitarian Universalist Church of New Orleans as Director of Religious Education before...

Comments (13)

Bart Frost (not verified) 2 years 9 months ago


Thanks for joining the conversation. To be totally honest, I'm sorry the article came across that way. I am actually part of the Anti-Chalica coalition , but I think that we each need to find our own spiritual practices that speak to our heart and soul. For some people, Chalica does this and that's great.

For others Chalica seems too shallow or creates a creed out of the 7 Principles. They are right too.

Which is why I like the idea of Consolidation Sunday, or Unity Sunday, to celebrate the merger of the American Unitarian Association and the Universalist Church of America to create the Unitarian Universalist Association! We could celebrate it on the 3rd Sunday of May. What do you think about that?


Bart Frost (not verified) 2 years 9 months ago


Thanks for your response! February would be an interesting time to hold it, maybe back it up in to Valentine's Day? Although, some years it would conflict with Mardi Gras, and I'm not sure how I feel about that!


Cliff (not verified) 2 years 9 months ago

No, August, when there are no major religious or national holidays. Not only less competition, but perhaps more attention since there's less going on in August. America needs an August holiday!

Bart Frost (not verified) 2 years 9 months ago

What could we celebrate in August? Consolidation Sunday makes sense for May because that's when in happened in 1961. And a lot of major religions have light-based holidays in winter, so Chalica fits in there.
What could we celebrate in August?

Bart Frost (not verified) 2 years 9 months ago


Thanks for your response! A conversation we had around lunch yesterday mentioned the "Arch of the 7 Principles" with the first and seventh are what grounds us and the fourth is the key stone.

What are some rituals you would include?


Bart Frost (not verified) 2 years 9 months ago


Thanks for your response! It mostly flared up on Facebook this year, but in the past it has been all over the UU Blogosphere.

My personal experience with Chalica is that it has more to do with where one is in their faith formation process. I see youth and young adults who LOVE Unitarian Universalism so much that they want a chance to celebrate, and I see older converted UUs who have left behind painful traditions and are looking for something new that reflects what they believe.

The way I like to lift up the Principles, beyond they are a covenant, is that they are how we act in the world. They explain how we are to be in community with one another.


Jennica Davis-H... (not verified) 2 years 9 months ago

I love the idea of consolidation Sunday because it unique to our own history. However I'd prefer it be on on Monday so we could have a 3 day weekend :) Seriously though, a celebration of our heritage and our progress would be cool. What rituals would be part of it?

Buddhagan (not verified) 2 years 9 months ago

I'm a fairly new UU; I joined my current congregation about 2 yrs ago. I love the idea of Chalica or as I call it sometimes Chalicetide (I like the Pagan-y sound of that). When I was researching this holiday, I too found lots of negativity about it. But that's the beauty of being UU. You don't have to celebrate it or even acknowledge it. And if you do celebrate it, you can do it when and how you want. The purpose is to keep our 7 principles in mind and I think celebrating Chalica is a good way to do that.

Kwanzaa is a made up holiday as well which has candles and lasts for 7 days. Christmas is appropriated from Pagan celebrations and myths. My point is every holiday will have elements of others.

I'm not really sure about a Consolidation Sunday. There are still some strictly Unitarian congregations out there so everyone didn't join us.

But isn't this how holidays start? Feel free to start a Consolidation Sunday. (I wouldn't use Unity Sunday because that is the name of another church/religion.) I do think the day of the merger should be acknowledged at least. It would be UU's birthday right? And everyone loves birthdays! Do you know the exact date?

Bart Frost (not verified) 2 years 9 months ago


Huh, I'm not sure the exact date of the merger, I just know it is May 1961 (if you know the exact day, post it below!). In regards to strictly Unitarian, there are also congregations that are strictly Universalist but are still apart of the UUA. I wonder how they would celebrate...

Thanks for sharing,

Janeen (not verified) 2 years 9 months ago

We're observing Chalica from Jan 4 to Feb 15, in a principle-a-week new year's resolution way. For a December holiday, we're holding Illumination Day, when everyone brings their chalice to church and we light them all at the same time. We also learn the history of the Flaming Chalice.

To remember the Consolidation (May 15, 1961), perhaps we might broaden it a bit and call it Heritage Day, and also commemorate other events from our congregations' and faiths' histories, including, for example, Ellery Channing's sermon "Unitarian Christianity" in May 1819 in Baltimore, which led the congregationalists to claim the name Unitarian. For activities, we might make it into a Homecoming, and invite founding members or people who've moved away. Have a parade of the ages, with people in period costume. Read excerpts from older sermons, and talk about how things have changed. IF you share a meal, use old recipes.

Cindy Glaze (not verified) 2 years 9 months ago

I'd move it to February when there are fewer competing holidays. It feels like adding a new mess to add stress to an already stressed holiday season.

Mariah/Caelesti (not verified) 2 years 9 months ago

I don't know where this "controversy" is flaring up- where do the UUs argue online? Not that I need more to argue about. What I have noticed is a bit of a generation gap- the older UUs identify more with Christmas, and the younger UUs want something that uniquely reflects their UU identity. Younger UUs grew up with the 7 principles & use it as a way to describe our faith, older UUs seem to fuss more about it being turned into a "creed". Most of the principles sounds more like the UN Declaration of Human rights, it is not very theological in nature. I think UUs really need to work more on developing ritual, without letting people who are worried about something being "too religious" quash that exploration. As a Celtic/Germanic polytheist I enjoy the music, the people, the social justice stuff, but I don't expect it to cover all my spiritual needs because it's too general.

Here are my posts about it-

Kadyn (not verified) 2 years 9 months ago

This article has good points however it makes the assumption that ALL UU's have to celebrate Chalica to be good UU's and it is henceforth part of a creed. This I disagree with due to my perception that Chalica is taking a deeper look into how the principles affect our lives

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