Reformation Day Holiday Traditions

Inventing a Celebration

I’ve never had much use for Halloween. We didn’t celebrate it when I was growing up, substituting other family fun that day, and now I am simply turned off by the ugliness of the decor.

But give me a reason to celebrate, and I love inventing traditions! Most conveniently, Reformation Day also falls on October 31st, so we use it as a day that varies the school routine, gives us an excuse to eat chocolate, and let the boys pick out their own gift. (I’m all about simplicity, since we also have an annual harvest party with lots of doughnuts around the same time!)

Several years ago we celebrated the 500th anniversary of Martin Luther nailing the 95 theses to the Wittenberg Door, and I invented a last-minute holiday, because that’s how I naturally function. I don’t do elaborate crafts or costumes and my boys aren’t much into acting out stories, but you certainly could if your family enjoys such things.

Apparently it was a success, because they have asked to do it again.

Here are the traditions we have enjoyed:

1.      Chocolate for breakfast.

Because, really, is there any happier way to start the day? You could put good quality chocolates on each plate (Kinder eggs or Ferrero Rocher chocolates are always a hit here), or you could serve really rich hot chocolate with all the stir-ins and toppings.

2.      A day off of our usual routine.

Or a half-day. The day still totally counts because it’s educational, but as more of a class party (without bakery cupcakes).

3.      Remember the story.

I read a picture book biography about Martin Luther, and found a YouTube video of his life told in Playmobil. This is where you could have your kids act it out, if you choose.

4.      Eat traditional/cultural food.

We made homemade pretzels, since Luther was German, and gummy worms for the Diet of Worms, of course.

5.      Presents! What’s a holiday without a fun memento?

My last-minute inspiration was to give each child $5 for the five solas. They were thrilled. In order to receive the cash, they had to recite the five solas: sola Christus, sola scriptura, sola fide, sola gratia, soli deo gloria. Some of them want to go spend it at the store right away; others prefer to save it. Either is fine with me. It’s less than I would spend on any other holiday.

Anything else?

After we had read through the story and watched a short video, my boys were done with the meaningfulness. Another thing I learned? DON’T OVERDO IT. Encourage a narration or discuss the major issues if you wish, but KEEP IT A HOLIDAY.

My boys may not remember every detail about Luther’s life, but they won’t forget the family celebration and asked to keep the traditions again this year. We could learn about other reformers or figures in church history, depending what is readily available.

Other ideas, depending on what you have available:

  • Pin the Beard on the Reformer game
  • Trial and Triumph by Richard Hannula
  • God’s Outlaw: The Real Story of Tyndale and the English Bible (graphic novel). Voice of the Martyrs.
  • The Hawk that Dare Not Hunt by Day by Scott O’Dell
  • The Bible Smuggler by Louise A. Vernon
  • The Queen’s Smuggler (Trailblazer series) by Dave and Neta Jackson
  • Torchlighters animated videos

Elsewhere:

Looking for more ideas? Lisa at This Pilgrim Life has printables and more for Reformation Day.

What would you add to these?

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Megan Saben

Megan is Associate Editor for Redeemed Reader, and she loves nothing more than discovering Truth and Story in literature. She is the author of Something Better Coming, and is quite particular about which pottery mug is best suited to her favorite hot drinks throughout the day. Megan lives with her husband and five boys in Virginia.

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12 Comments

  1. Janie Cheaney on October 30, 2018 at 8:53 am

    I love these ideas! Wish I’d thought about them when my kids were young.

    • Megan Saben on October 30, 2018 at 6:57 pm

      Maybe we need to add a tradition: sending Reformation Day greeting cards? 🙂

  2. Renee Roller on October 30, 2018 at 9:29 am

    This is fantastic! Only because I haven’t been organized enough, we have never officially celebrated Reformation Day (even though our kids are very familiar with Martin Luther and the 95 theses). I am inspired to start commemorating it this year… thank you for these wonderful ideas!

    • Megan Saben on October 30, 2018 at 6:58 pm

      I totally get it, Renee! That’s why my efforts are so simple to throw together, because otherwise I’ll get overwhelmed and too busy and it won’t happen. Have fun! Let us know how it goes.

  3. Alysha on October 30, 2018 at 11:13 am

    I love these ideas, Megan! Thank you for sharing. I’m going to put this in my back pocket for next year!

    • Megan Saben on October 30, 2018 at 6:59 pm

      Aw, shucks, start this year! You need a reason to eat chocolate, right?

  4. Maureen on October 30, 2018 at 6:53 pm

    I always give my grandchildren Reformation Day candy. Most of them do not celebrate Halloween, so I don’t want them to feel like they are being left out of the fun.

    • Megan Saben on October 30, 2018 at 7:02 pm

      Excellent! I bet you give good candy, too. I’d rather buy a bag of the good stuff to share, anyway.

  5. Becky on November 2, 2018 at 10:03 am

    This is great stuff. I’m always looking for more ideas to share/teach about Reformation. This year, we held a little Reformation party at our church where a friend dressed up as Martin Luther and came to speak to the kids about his life! It was so fun! (we also have the Torchlighters film to show if our friend couldn’t do it.) Then we had a puppet show with skits and songs about who wrote the Bible and our theme verse was Eph. 2:8. We also played Pin the 95 Theses on the Door. Also popcorn for kids and parents who came. It was a fun evening and our first of hopefully an annual event.

  6. Heather M Peterson on October 29, 2022 at 2:09 pm

    Great Ideas! I too have no desire to celebrate Halloween but I love the idea of highlighting the Reformers who stood firm in their convictions .

    • Megan Saben on October 29, 2022 at 6:24 pm

      Thank you, Heather! I hope you enjoy making your own family traditions as you celebrate.

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