I am not ashamed to admit that I *like* the film The Sound of Music.
When I went to Austria, I went to Salzburg and "did" the Sound of Music tour. It was great fun.
My daughters have enjoyed watching the film when it has been on tv, and last year I bought the DVD.
I have only watched it two or three times, though ;-)
Many years ago, I bought Maria Von Trapp`s autobiography and thoroughly enjoyed that too.
Surfing the Web recently, I was thrilled to find that the loving descriptions of religious customs in Austria briefly mentioned in her autobiography have been considerably expanded to form a book, Around the Year with the Trapp family, which is available on the Web (minus sheet music and illustrations, but a good read nevertheless) here
It details many sweet and pious traditions which could very easily be adapted for use by Orthodox families.
Obviously references to the Rosary and Feasts of the Sacred Heart, modern "apparitions" of the Mother of God and pilgrimages to such places, etc are not relevant to Orthodoxy at all.
There are also some liturgical customs described which would also be customary in the Western-Rite Orthodox Church but unfamiliar to those of us in the Eastern Rite.
If in any doubt, Ask Yer Priest !
I think it is nice to have godly customs which will form part of our children`s childhood memories and which may hopefully be passed on to the next generation in turn.
I particularly like this one, which I will introduce this year to our family ! Obviously it means just choosing a handful of saints from which each family member will then choose one, being as we Orthodox have an awful lot of Saints to choose from :-0 ............
"After our first gathering around the Advent light, and the singing of the first Advent hymn, an air of expectancy spreads over the family group; now comes the moment when the mother goes around with a bowl in which are the little cards with the names of the new saints. Everybody draws a card and puts it in his missal. This saint will be invoked every morning after morning prayer.
Everyone is supposed to look up and study the life story of his new friend, and some time during the coming year he will tell the family all about it. As there are so many of us, we come to know about different saints every year. Sometimes this calls for considerable research on the part of the unfortunate one who has drawn St. Eustachius, for instance, or St. Bibiana.
But the custom has become very dear to us, and every year it seems as if the family circle were enlarged by all those new brothers and sisters entering in and becoming known and loved by all.
And then comes another exciting moment. Once more the mother appears with the bowl, which she passes around. This time the pieces of paper contain the names of the members of the family and are neatly rolled up, because the drawing has to be done in great secrecy. The person whose name one has drawn is now in one's special care.
From this day until Christmas, one has to do as many little favors for him or her as one can. One has to provide at least one surprise every single day--but without ever being found out. This creates a wonderful atmosphere of joyful suspense, kindness, and thoughtfulness. Perhaps you will find that somebody has made your bed or shined your shoes or has informed you, in a disguised handwriting on a holy card, that "a rosary has been said for you today" or a number of sacrifices have been offered up.
This new relationship is called "Christkindl" (Christ Child) in the old country, where children believe that the Christmas tree and the gifts under it are brought down by the Christ Child himself.The beautiful thing about this particular custom is that the relationship is a reciprocal one. The person whose name I have drawn and who is under my care becomes for me the helpless little Christ Child in the manger; and as I am performing these many little acts of love and consideration for someone in the family I am really doing them for the Infant of Bethlehem, according to the word, "And he that shall receive one such little child in my name, receiveth me." That is why this particular person turns into "my Christkindl."
At the same time I am the "Christkindl" also for the one I am caring for because I want to imitate the Holy Child and render all those little services in the same spirit as He did in that small house of Nazareth, when as a child He served His Mother and His foster father with a similar love and devotion.
Many times throughout these weeks can be heard such exclamations as, "I have a wonderful Christkindl this year!" or, "Goodness, I forgot to do something for my Christkindl and it is already suppertime!" It is a delightful custom, which creates much of the true Christmas spirit and ought to be spread far and wide."
There are also many recipes for Austrian dishes, which I really must get round to trying out.
It is a book to treasure, ponder, adapt, and above all, USE.