Creating my own special event tradition by exploring some of Chicago's greatest architecture

Special Events are rooted in ceremony and tradition.  Celebrations of life, death and anniversaries have been around for thousands of years.  Tradition is important in many cultures and continues to be important to us now too.  We have our time honored secular traditions like celebrating our country’s independence on the Fourth of July, uncorking the bubbly on January first at midnight and Superbowl Sunday, which could be considered the high holiest holiday of them all!

Our families and friends have traditions that we partake in weekly, monthly and annually.  Some of them are rooted in religion and some are just fun.  Either way all of these traditions result in an event taking place whether it's sharing a meal, attending a sporting event, or just being together.

My wife and I look forward to a special event we partake in every Holy Thursday.  It’s an old Catholic tradition to visit 7 churches on Holy Thursday. While neither of us partook in this tradition growing up, as adults we look forward to this special event every year.  Certainly the event is religious in nature but it also gives us a chance to explore our beloved Chicago a bit more intimately.  Have you ever gone past a beautiful, old church and said to yourself, “One day I will stop in and see it”? For many years we said we should check out some of this magnificent architecture and never did.

About 5 years ago we decided that this Holy Thursday tradition worked into our quest to see Chicago’s architecture very nicely.  We created a tradition or event, if you will, that every year on Holy Thursday we would pick 9 churches that we want to visit.  While the custom is to visit 7 we chose 9 not only for some bonus points with the big guy, but also in case a couple of them didn’t work out.  The event itself requires the usual special event planning.  We research all the various churches in Chicago, we talk to people to see if there are any we haven’t heard of yet, we select a place for dinner prior to the tour, we make sure the car has plenty of gas and our destinations are written down and mapped out.   We have learned if all of the research and planning are done in advance it makes the evening far less stressful.  This is usually true with any event.

Over the course of 5 years we have seen some very interesting architecture in our great city.  It’s truly a blessing to live in a city like Chicago where the citizens who have gone before us put so much effort and money into building some of the most amazing structures.  This year I took photos of the churches to document our Holy Thursday special event (see below).  All of the churches are Catholic.  However, you don’t have to be Catholic to appreciate the detailed architecture of these buildings.

While planning for this event is by no means comparable to Lollapalooza or Taste of Chicago it’s good to start event traditions in your personal life that are unique and interesting.  Create an event that allows you to visit places that you wouldn't normally visit.  Special Events planning is all about creating unique experiences for others but also be sure to create unique event experiences for yourself too.

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This year’s churches:

St. Hyacinth Basilica

3636 W. Wolfram

St. Benedict

2215 W. Irving Park Rd.

St. Alphonsus

1429 W. Wellington

Our Lady of Mt. Carmel

708 W. Belmont

St. Hedwig

2226 N. Hoyne

St. Aloysius

2300 W. Le Moyne Street

Holy Family

1080 W. Roosevelt Rd

St. Procopious

1641 S. Allport

St. Mary of Perpetual Help

1039 W. 32nd Street

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