Celebrations and Holidays
Unitarian Universalist congregations have several beautiful and unique celebrations and also recognize holidays from diverse religious traditions. Secular holidays, such as Earth Day, Thanksgiving and Martin Luther King Jr. Sunday are also part of our year.
We celebrate child dedications, coming of age, weddings and memorials for members of our congregation, and we provide facilities for weddings, memorials and celebrations for the wider Santa Barbara community.
We celebrate the marriage of all loving couples with unique ceremonies that reflect the love, commitment and joy that come with this important occasion. Our ministers provide this service for members of the congregation, but are also available for outside weddings from time to time. If you are interested in renting the Unitarian Society for your wedding, please visit our weddings page. If you are interested in speaking with a minister about officiating a wedding, please contact our ministers directly.
Memorial services are an opportunity to celebrate and and honor a unique and precious life. Because of this, each memorial service for a member of the Unitarian Society is developed by the family in consultation with one of the ministers. We are also a welcoming sanctuary for families from many different traditions and backgrounds. If you are interested in renting the Unitarian Society for a memorial, please contact our facilities manager, Greg Otero. If you are interested in speaking with a minister about presiding at a memorial, please contact our ministers directly.
We welcome babies and young children into our community with a simple, joyful ceremony, during a Sunday worship service or in a private family gathering. We celebrate the promise of a child’s life and bestow the blessings of the community in support of the child and family. Contact one of our ministers for more information.
Coming of Age
Coming of Age is our celebration of young people making the transition from childhood to adolescence. This passage takes place around 8th grade, when bodies and minds are beginning the journey to spiritual adulthood. A Coming of Age Recognition Ceremony takes place during May. Contact our Religious Education Program Director for more information.
The passage from teenager to young adult is profound. A Bridging Ceremony symbolically walks the young person out of a circle of teenagers and into the beginning of adult life. This ceremony publicly acknowledges that the individual is no longer a child, but an adult with all responsibilities and rights that accompany this new stage of life. Contact our Religious Education Program Director for more information.
Water Ceremony & Ingathering
On the Sunday after Labor Day, we celebrate the beginning of a new church year with this special service. Each person brings some water with them to the service – water collected from their travels over the summer or their own backyard or favorite beach – and we pour these waters into a common bowl. This symbolizes the way that our many streams of life meet and merge into a powerful community and how the unique gifts that each of us bring are shared by all.
Dia de los Muertos
Our joyful and powerful “Day of the Dead” service happens each year on the Sunday before Halloween. In this multigenerational service, everyone is invited to bring mementos and photos of loved ones who have died to place upon our community altar. There is a special celebration with food and crafts between services.
Christmas Eve Candlelight Services
We host three different services on Christmas Eve, at 5pm, 7pm and 9pm. The 5pm service is our Family Service, with interactive, multigenerational storytelling and favorite Christmas Carols. The 7pm service is Lessons and Carols, telling the traditional story of Christmas and reflecting on the meaning of the holiday. The 9pm service features special music and a more meditative tone. All services end with candlelight and the singing of Silent Night.
This service takes place in the spring. Members of the congregation bring a flower to the Sunday service and during the service all the blooms are gathered into a shared vase. The flowers are blessed by the congregation and then, the end of the service, each person brings home a flower different from the one they brought. The Flower communion service was originally created in 1923 by Unitarian minister Norbert Capek, who founded the Unitarian Church in Czechoslovakia. The service was later brought to the United States by his wife, Maya.
“The significance of the flower communion is that as no two flowers are alike, so no two people are alike, yet each has a contribution to make. Together the different flowers form a beautiful bouquet. Our common bouquet would not be the same without the unique addition of each individual flower, and thus it is with our church community: it would not be the same without each and every one of us. Thus this service is a statement of our community.” – Reginald Zottoli