Apple Picking and Other Catholic Family Traditions

Apple Picking and Other Catholic Family Traditions

We welcome guest blogger Heidi Bratton, author of the new book: Homegrown Faith: Nurturing Your Catholic Family.

We celebrated the time-honored family tradition of apple picking last weekend. Even though we were at an entirely new orchard in Michigan, hundreds of miles from last year’s orchard in Massachusetts, I felt right at home. In fact, standing in the middle of this new, enormous orchard, my husband commented, “You know, we could very well have been dropped anywhere in the middle of New England. This orchard looks just the same!”

I find annual family traditions, like apple picking every fall, to be so grounding. In fact, I can’t think of the word, “tradition,” without my mind leaping to the scene in The Fiddler on the Roof where Tevye belts out his signature song about tradition (“The Mama, the Papa!”) and its vital place in helping families survive the uncertainties of life. For Tevye, it was the customs of the Jewish culture of Eastern European that grounded him and bound his family together. For my family and me, it is not only our particular traditions like apple picking, but the traditions and customs of our Catholic faith that ground and bind us together. 

  • Next week, for example, we will celebrate the Feast of St. Francis on October 4th,when it is the tradition among many Catholic parishes to conduct a “Blessing of the Animals.” 
  • All Saints’ Day and All Souls’ Day are on November 1st and 2nd, a two-day event which our family traditionally celebrates with mass, candle-lit pumpkins, houses made of candy, and reading from the Bible about what our heavenly home will be like. 
  • Of course candy in our children’s shoes on St. Nicholas Day (December 6th) and the baking of gingerbread cookies on St. Lucy’s Day (December 13th), rank among our favorite celebrations during the season of Advent, and I don’t think any Catholic is at a loss to find many special ways to celebrate the Feast of the Nativity on December 25th! 

Truly, the anticipation of these annual, traditional celebrations and the rhythm they give to our year are almost as important as the events themselves, and like Tevye did with his family’s traditions, I treasure them dearly.  

Some of my friends are especially good about annually celebrating the day their children were baptized and some celebrate the feast day of each child’s namesake saint with regularity. We have such a rich and varied tapestry of traditions as Catholics that I am always interested in what aspects of the Catholic faith other families celebrate at home and what concrete things they do to develop these aspects into time-honored traditions. 

Readers, chime in, what Catholic traditions connect you most strongly to your family/culture of origin and the Catholic Church? Which have you set aside for your own family and why?

Photos: (c) Heidi Bratton Photography 2011

About the Author:

Heidi Bratton is the author of Homegrown Faith: Nurturing Your Catholic Family published by Servant Books and of fifteen, photo-illustrated board books for very young children.  Heidi’s website is, and her writing on Catholic family life can be found on several websites such as,, and, as well as in The Anchor weekly newspaper of the Diocese of Fall River, MA.


About the Author