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As I had stated in an earlier post, I really looked long and hard for an activity that would really bring meaning to our New Year’s celebration. I decided on two. First, it is quite traditional for our Unitarian congregation to burn “regrets” in a glass bowl on New Year’s Day. I worked with my son to gather up our own negative experiences which we would like to burn and never revisit. My son’s list primarily consisted of things like monsters and kids teasing him. We carefully burned up all these experiences. Then, I unceremoniously dumped the remains in the backyard and buried them under some rotting leaves. Good riddance! Second, we focused on realizing wishes for our new year. This was not such a simple matter. For this, we performed a little ceremony with sailboats made out of walnuts.

I had never heard of the walnut boat ceremony prior to some Google searches in late December. As far as I can tell, there is such a ceremony described in a book called All Year Round. Unfortunately, there was not enough information online to reliably recreate the activity, and there was certainly no time left to acquire the book. I had to improvise and quickly. I started off by obtaining what I determined to be the necessary supplies basesd on photos of various people sailing walnut boats:

Walnut Boat Ingredients

Walnut Boat Ingredients

Next, I started to assemble the basin in which the boats would float. I started off by filling the bottom of an aluminum roasting pan with aquarium stones. The stones are actually a clear plastic, and I added them because they would reflect the light of the candles that would appear shortly.

Aquarium Stones

Aquarium Stones

Some blog posts that I came across mention the creation of islands of “hope” and “dreams” and other concepts in the boat basin. Pictures in the blog posts showed little islands of greenery in fairly sizable pools of water. My turking roasting pan wasn’t big enough to accomodate such things, and I didn’t see anything suitable for such island building. Alas, I just added three candles to the mix.

Candles

Candles

The hardest part of this whole affair was cracking walnut shells perfectly in half. Ultimately, I found no means to crack, pry or otherwise perfectly separate the shells. I settled on crushing one half of the walnut shell with a nut cracker. Then, I pried the crushed bits away from the remaining, intact shell.

Cracking Nuts

Cracking Nuts

Assembling the walnut boats was also a bit of a chore. I had to empty out and clean a glass baby food jar. Next, I had to peel labels off and break up crayons. The crayon bits then went into the jar, one crayon’s worth at a time. I then microwaved this jar in the microwave for five minutes to get a single crayon to melt. I finished the whole process by pouring out the wax into a waiting nut shell, and I secured a little toothpick into the wax. This process had to be repeated for each of the four boats I intended to create.

Walnut Boat Ingredients

Walnut Boat Ingredients

Now that I think of it, I recall another account of walnut boats associated with New Year’s Eve. I read somewhere that paper fortunes were assembled around the edge of a tub, and boats were allowed to drift in the tub towards fortunes. Each participant would then retrieve the fortune closest to their boat. At present, I think this idea was presented in my Christmas in the Family book. However, I am not entirely certain, and the book has been misplaced. At any rate, I googled “fortunes” and came up with some fortune cookie sayings and wrote them on strips of red and white paper. I then rolled them up and secured them with tape. The blue ribbons tied around each fortune would be used to attach the fortune to the side of the roasting basin.

Fortunes

Fortunes

We added some sails to the boat and some potpourri and ribbons around the perimeter of the basin.

Ready to Set Sail

Ready to Set Sail

At this point, the only thing to do was add the magic. My son and I wrote one single-word wish for ourselves and one for each other. Then, we set the boats at sail in our basin. We then waited to see whether the boats came to rest close to us or away from us. All the boats came to port quite close to us, and we determined that our wishes would likely come true. We then claimed the fortunes closest to the boats. Looks like new friends and good luck is in our future.

Just Add Magic

Just Add Magic

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