Between the pandemic and lots of snow, here in the Poconos we are so glad spring has arrived.

The season brings many holidays: Passover, Easter, Holi, Ramadan and Earth Day. They all involve ritual.

Rituals are prescribed actions that represent something important. Another component is that they are often repeated, for example, saying what you are thankful for at Thanksgiving dinner each year, or lighting a candle on the anniversary of a loved one’s death. Specific parts of religious practices are ritualistic— such as the Passover Seder, fasting for Ramadan, and for Christians passion plays or pageants and special Easter Sunday services come to mind.   

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All of the uncertainty surrounding COVID has had an effect.

I have been working with many couples who changed their wedding dates as many as three times (so far). It begs the question: Would it have been better to keep the original date and get married in a smaller gathering, or reschedule in the hope of having the wedding you intended?

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photo: JillKatherinePhotography

Do not overlook or downplay it. Mourning a pet is really very important. Our pets are part of our families and when one dies it’s crushingly painful. They have often seen us through difficult times and joyous times, they are companions who never judge us and give us unconditional love. Don’t let anyone ever tell you to “just get over it” or “you’ll get another dog” (cat, whatever). Maybe you will get another pet, but the death of your animal companion, your furry or feathered friend, is a painful loss.

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Happy New Year! Maybe you made some noise to welcome 2021. A big bang can be joyous, or it can be frightening. It’s as ancient and obvious as can be. We can literally break something as a symbolic action. The well-known "Breaking the Glass" ritual at a Jewish wedding is a great example, but there are other, lesser known traditions that involve ritual breaking. Here are a few examples.

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A couple "breaks the glass" after being wed by celebrant Lois Heckman.
 

 

I’ve covered a lot of ground since I began writing this column way back in 2006. And it has served me well because I find weddings endlessly interesting, especially the history, customs and traditions involved. Regardless of what is happening in the world, such as the pandemic — people still need ceremonies. 

As much as I love weddings, as a celebrant my work encompasses more than that. Celebrants are somewhat like religious leaders — we help individuals, couples and families honor life’s milestones. So whether you identify as religious, spiritual or nontheist, ritual is especially important during the big transitions in life.  

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I am happy to have a break from writing Pocono Wedding Talk – the COVID information that is provided by the Pocono Record is so much more important, and it seems frivolous to write about weddings, especially since they are mostly cancelled now anyway. But it’s been about a month since I wrote a column...

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I’m going to write about weddings today, I promise, but first a little story. Once, when I wrote a letter to the editor on a political issue, I got a comment telling me to stay in my lane. The person said I should stick to writing about weddings and shut up about other things.

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Aug 09, 2020

There is no hierarchy of grief, mourning or sadness. Everyone is entitled to their feelings even if others have had worse things happen. Certainly, the death of a loved one doesn’t compare to your wedding being postponed – but you are still allowed to be upset about the disruption of something you planned and dreamed about for a long time.

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During difficult times, a few laughs are helpful. I was thinking about how I add a little touch of humor in wedding ceremonies and thought I’d share some of that.

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Oct 04, 2020

Yes, I’m going to address this issue… again! Because it is an ongoing situation. And talk about wedding stress! This is not a crisis over a dress or flowers. COVID-19 has caused the postponement and cancellation of countless events. What if it’s your wedding? For that matter what if another emergency comes up that puts your special event into question? What do you do? How would you handle that?

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By LOIS HECKMAN

The struggle to have safe gatherings is on-going, as the pandemic is far from tamed. The struggle to unite our country continues as well. But there are other struggles, more personal, within many families. The concept of the dysfunctional family has become a bit of a joke because everyone thinks their family is “not normal.” But what is “normal” anyway?

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To read back on the many, many columns... click here and scroll around. There you will find articles on many useful topics. From wedding protocols, to cultural and religious traditions around the world.