Around the Year with Von Trapp Family

Around the Year with the Von Trapp Family by Maria Augusta Von Trapp is surprisingly upbeat and joyful, especially when we recall that in The Sound of Music ends with the Von Trapp troupe fleeing their beloved Austria. The 1965 American musical drama ends by highlighting the danger the family averted by escaping with only what they wore—and what was in their spirits. They courageously sang their way to freedom.

Maria’s book is taken from her writings on the liturgical life she lived to keep her family Catholic. Your family can adapt many ideas from this book easily by its structure. You will find sections on Celebrating With the Family in Heaven about the Catholic sacred days, Celebrating With the Family on Earth with ways to mark special days, as well as collections of Songs and Recipes.

After the family arrived in America, their financial resources disappeared in the Stock Market collapse. They did not flinch at impending poverty, but as in The Sound of Music, used those talents to survive again performing as the Von Trapp Family Singers.

Keeping Catholic

Through it all, Maria kept the family Catholic with year-round customs, meals, shared sacrifices, family entertainment evenings—whatever she could do. Maria recorded the poignant everyday stories of how they lived liturgically, proactively making everything meaningful in the way they dressed, ate, read books, sang music, and played.

With the beautiful layout, illustrations and Maria’s warm words of encouragement, Around the Year with the Von Trapp Family looks like a coffee-table book to show off but soon becomes a kitchen table book. It needs to be handy so that mothers can try the recipes with their children like Rum Slices for Advent, Spring Herb Soup for Lent, or Linzer Torte for birthdays. Mom and Dad can use the book to plan new events to enrich their family throughout the liturgical year. Any musician in the house will rest this elegant volume on the piano or music stand and play new Easter songs like “Three Women at Break of Day” or “Easter Eggs!” The pianist can pick out the notes to one of six Advent or eight Marian hymns. On dreary evenings, the 19 Rounds for Family Singing will warm the hearts of the grumpiest.

The Von Trapps celebrated the season of Carnival from January 6 to Ash Wednesday, with games, singing, food and drink. Maria writes of the merriment of this season before Lent and, sharing what food and drink, dancing and singing helped them celebrate.

Freedom to worship

The Von Trapp children were taught to know and honor the saints. They learned the symbols many saints carry, and why they are invoked for specific causes. Maria elaborates on traditions kept on feast days such as Corpus Christi, the Sacred Heart, Christ the King and the feasts of Mary—with many Austrian hymns. Imagine preparing your family for Pentecost by devoting the nine days before this important holy day to discussing one the gifts of the Spirit each evening. Maria contrasts the freedom to celebrate Sundays before and after World War II. She gives us a thorough picture of Sunday in Austria, the Fourth Century and in America.

After the first concert tour of Von Trapp Family Singers in America, many parents sought Maria’s advice on how to keep their families at home in the evenings. Unable to answer all the letters sufficiently, she started the Trapp Family Music Camp to show their fans how the Von Trapp’s enjoyed their evening activities at home. She writes, “The evenings of each camp session were always devoted to ‘home entertainment.’ And once the camp closes at the end of August, our home remains open for guests, and there we carry right on, living as we had been used to in Austria.” The dancing, reading aloud, group discussion and singing continue in the hearts and homes of those who take from this book the ideas and spirit that kept the Von Trapp family close together and always profoundly Catholic.

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Nancy Ward

Nancy Ward

Nancy Ward, a convert, journalist, author, speaker and blogger, shares about conversion, Catholicism and Christian community at JoyAlive.net, several websites and magazines. She loves to share her faith story and help others share theirs. Her "Sharing Your Faith Story Seminar" is available on DVD. She’s on the board of Catholic Writers Guild, facilitating a critique group and the D/FW Catholic Writers. She contributed to The Catholic Mom Prayer Companion.

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