My regulars know all about the obscure festival of Speranza'a, but for newcomers, here is the original explanation I wrote a few years ago:
A couple of years ago, my kids got a Sesame Street DVD called Elmo's Happy Holidays. It's very cute, and covers Christmas, Hannukah, Eid and Kwanza'a, explaining the basic idea behind the holidays and showing real kids and their families celebrating them. My kids have watched this DVD over and over (and over). Somehow they got the idea that we should create and celebrate our own family holiday. Since their last name, like my husband's, is "Speranza," the obscure festival of Speranza'a was born.
Each winter, when the days are gray and cold and it seems like spring will never come, it is time for Speranza'a. (Technically speaking, it begins on the first Monday after Valentine's Day.) Each person in the family gets their own day. Monday is Tom's, mine is Tuesday, and so on, and the sixth and final day is for Charcoal [-- and any guests fortunate enough to be invited.] The person whose day it is gets to pick what we are having for dinner. Candles are lit and the person whose day it is gets to make a wish and blow out the candles. After dinner, we dance in the living room.
We are still working out some of the finer details; for example, someday I will have to take the kids to one of those paint-your-own pottery places so we can make special candleholders (a spenorah?). Update: Last year we made a kick-ass spenorah. We still need to work on the Six Principles of Speranza'a: so far we've got the Principles of Irony, Gluttony and Magnetism, but I think they need tweaking.
But all silliness aside, it is sweet and surprising to see how much this family tradition means to my kids. They've been talking about it for weeks. They talk about what they are going to pick for their dinner (Elvis picked turkey breast; N. is opting for shells in tomato sauce; G. will probably ask for bacon and popcorn) and they are thrilled when it's their turn to make a wish and blow out the candles. From the parents' perspective, it is heartwarming to feel like we are making some special memories with our kids. I have little daydreams about them coming over when they are grownups, still celebrating this made-up holiday with us as we all grow older.
So from my family to yours, we wish you a happy Speranza'a!