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Valentine Traditions–Along the way to St. Valentine’s Day 6: Lace

Along the way to St. Valentine’s Day…

St. Valentine’s cards were originally made by hand with real lace and ribbons.  Rather than being utilitarian, lace has always been something added for adornment and as such has an association with romance.  In 1834 Joseph Addenbrooke of England accidentally discovered a way to make paper lace.  This ushered in the Golden Age of Valentines in the 1840s to 1860s where paper lace decorated cards were all the vogue.

Along the way to St. Valentine’s Day 6:
Lace

 

Until we meet again, may God hold you in the palm of His hand.

~ An Old Irish Blessing ~

Marian McCoy Boveri

inset picture from:   http://www.ephemerasociety.org/

Valentine Traditions–Along the Way to St. Valentine’s Day 5: Cards

Along the way to St. Valentine’s Day…

Sending a note professing one’s love in hopes of the same in return is one of the oldest traditions of St. Valentine’s Day. The first ever St. Valentine’s letter is said to have been sent from the Duke of Orleans to his wife during his imprisonment in the Tower of London circa 1416. The oldest surviving Valentine was written by Margery Brews of Norfolk to her fiancé John Paxston circa 1477.

Writing poems professing one’s love continued as an English custom. It is said that King Henry VIII established February 14 as St. Valentine’s Day by royal decree in 1537. In 1830s England, as improvements in postal services and printing methods grew, so did the popularity of sending and receiving Valentine’s cards. So unprecedented were the number of cards the postmen had to deliver that they needed refreshments to enable them to complete their delivery.

In America the sending of Valentines didn’t truly become a tradition until the Civil War circa 1861-1866. Cards often depicted sweethearts parting as well as pictures of soldiers covered by flaps that opened to reveal the person of affection. By the 17th century it was commonplace for friends and lovers from all social classes to exchange small tokens of affection like hand-made cards, chocolates and small gifts on St. Valentine’s Day.

 

Along the way to St. Valentine’s Day 5:
Cards and Notes

 

Until we meet again, may God hold you in the palm of His hand.

~ An Old Irish Blessing ~

Marian McCoy Boveri

Original picture from:  http://hubpages.com/holidays/valentines-images#slide9836064

Valentine Traditions–Along the Way to St. Valentines’ Day 4: Heart with Arrow

Along the way to St. Valentine’s Day…

The heart is one of the symbols most associated with Valentine’s Day.  Put the heart and Cupid together and you will find a heart with an arrow through it.  Cupid’s arrow has struck the heart with love.  This symbol signifies that a person is in love especially romantic love.

Along the way to St. Valentine’s Day 4: Heart with Arrow

 

Until we meet again, may God hold you in the palm of His hand.

~ An Old Irish Blessing ~

Marian McCoy Boveri

Valentine’s Traditions–Along the Way to St. Valentine’s Day 3: Cupid

Along the way to St. Valentine’s Day…

Cupid and his bow and arrow are a favorite symbol of St. Valentine’s Day.  Cupid is a well-known figure from classical mythology whose name derived from the Latin Cupidos which means “desire”.  His bow and arrow have come to represent the source of his power.  It is said that when someone is struck by Cupid’s arrow, they are overcome with desire and fall hopelessly in love.

During the Middle Ages, under the influence of Christianity, Cupid also became associated with Heavenly and Earthly love.  Originally portrayed as a young adult, Cupid eventually evolved into the cherub we are so familiar with today.  Cupid as a playful cherub represents romantic love and many hope the object of their desire will be struck by one of his arrows especially on St. Valentine’s Day.

Along the way to St. Valentine’s Day 3: Cupid

 

Until we meet again, may God hold you in the palm of His hand.

~ An Old Irish Blessing ~

Marian McCoy Boveri

Valentine Traditions–Along the Way to St. Valentine’s Day 2: Roses and Flowers

Along the way to St. Valentine’s Day…

There are at least three stories about St. Valentine which have led some to say there were three St. Valentines connected to February 14.  It is believed, however, that at least two if not all of these stories refer to one in the same St. Valentine who was martyred on February 14 in 3 A.D.   It is said that St. Valentine married Christians when it was against the law in Rome for them to wed.  This is one of the reasons St. Valentine’s Day has been linked with romantic love.

Flowers are both synonymous with weddings and St. Valentine’s Day.  Indeed flowers are believed to speak their own love language.  Roses have long been considered the queen of flowers and the one flower historically associated with true love.

  • A red rose speaks of love, romance, passion, beauty, courage, respect, and congratulations as well as a job well done.
  • A single red rose says, “I love you”.
  • Two roses intertwined together signify engagement and marriage.

 

Along the way to St. Valentine’s Day 2:
Roses and Flowers

Until we meet again, may God hold you in the palm of His hand.

~ An Old Irish Blessing ~

Marian McCoy Boveri

Valentine Traditions–Along the Way to St. Valentine’s Day 1: Hearts

Along the way to St. Valentine’s Day…

St. Valentine’s Day is a tradition that dates back centuries and is believed to have originated in ancient Rome. As Christianity spread many of the long-held traditions and celebrations were incorporated into Christian holidays. St. Valentine’s Day was made an official church holiday in 496 A.D. While it is thought that there may have been more than one St. Valentine, there is one thing that can be agreed upon. It is a day of celebration centered around love and all things to do with the heart.

The heart having a long-standing connection with emotions is naturally one of the most familiar symbols associated with this day.

Along the way to St. Valentine’s Day 1: Hearts

 

Until we meet again, may God hold you in the palm of His hand.

~ An Old Irish Blessing ~

Marian McCoy Boveri

Cultivate the Fields of Your Life–Plough On

It is said that many people break their New Year’s resolutions by the end of January. In fact nearly 40% of the New Year’s resolutions made will have been abandoned by this time. There is even a day designated as “Ditch Your New Year’s Resolution Day” on January 17 to alleviate the guilt that often accompanies the giving up on these good intentions. The year has barely begun and people have stopped walking on the path they set for the New Year because they fail to realize that the harvest they want to see is dependent on time for its season.

The truth is that we still stand at the threshold of the year. Agriculturally speaking the seeds haven’t even been planted for this year’s harvest. We still remain in the season of planning and preparation. Giving up on this year’s harvest before it has even been planted reflects a lack of awareness on how harvests come to bear fruit. The harvest takes time and work. Indeed you will reap what you sow but the reaping comes in due season. It doesn’t happen overnight.

 

Women Pulling a Plough circa 1917

In this picture circa 1917, three French women took it upon themselves to bear the burden of pulling the plough because their lives and the lives of their children were dependent upon the harvest. The men were off at war and the retreating German army took the horses which were relied upon to carry the burden of pulling the plough. Planting needed to be done but the ground could not take the seeds until it was cultivated. So the women themselves took on the necessary task of pulling the plough because nothing was going to stop them from receiving a harvest.

Are you willing to do what needs to be done to see the harvests in your life? Start by looking upon the year as the farmer does. The farmer takes time to develop a harvest strategy in order to receive what is needed. What if you looked upon all those things you want to accomplish as potential harvests in your life? A harvest requires some planning and p-l-o-u-g-h-i-n-g and cultivating along with a lot of hard work long before one can even begin to see a harvest.

Is the goal you want to accomplish as important as the harvest was to these women whose families depended upon it to survive? Maybe your survival doesn’t depend on your goal—or maybe it does? The point is that your goal will produce a harvest in your life if you approach it as something that is planted into a field that in turn needs planning, ploughing, planting, cultivation, and harvesting.

It remains that this picture inspired other nations to send women out into the fields to insure there was a harvest while men fought in the war.I pray that it inspires you to do the hard work that needs to be done so that you receive the harvest you have been wanting for. Should the time come for ploughing and there is nothing to pull the plough with, may you remain determined to overcome any difficulties in order to cultivate the field for planting. I hope this inspires you to find a way to put your hand to the plough and plough on.

A Call to the Harvest

Plough on dear friends. Plough on.

Until we meet again, may God hold you in the palm of His hand.

~ An Old Irish Blessing ~

Marian McCoy Boveri

 

Copyright: Marian Boveri @ www.AllThingsHarvest.com
Picture copyright: https://goo.gl/896YLg

 

Celebrate Traditions–Plough Sunday and Plough Monday

The first Monday after Epiphany is known as Plough Monday in certain parts of England and can be celebrated anytime from January 7 to January 14.  Plough Monday is preceded by Plough Sunday.  Both of these days were considered to mark the start of the agricultural year.  Ploughing of the fields began at this time and continued into March in preparation of the season’s planting.  These days also signify the end of the Christmas Season and a time to get back to work.

Ploughing the Field

In the early 1400s it was tradition on Plough Sunday to bring the ploughshare to church for a blessing upon it and the land.  The ploughshare is the portion of the plough that is the cutting or leading edge.  The Reformation put an end to this practice.  However, there has been resurgence in the celebration of Plough Sunday with liturgical prayers even written for “Blessing the Plough” and “Blessing the Seed”.    In this day and age, the connection to farming for most people has changed.  Plough Sunday and Plough Monday have now become a time to celebrate, recognize, and honor the work of farmers and farming.

Written references to Plough Monday go back to the beginning of the 1400s.  Farmers would take the plough around to houses seeking donations to keep the plough candle burning in the church.  Plough guilds were formed and each often had its own plough light in the church.  On Plough Monday they went out together with their plough to raise funds for the church and to maintain the plough lights’ burning.  The plough light most likely served as a continuous vigil that was initiated at the Plough Sunday church service prayers for blessings on the year’s coming harvest.  With the Reformation, the burning of the plough light was abolished.  Shortly thereafter the plough guilds were suppressed as well.

Despite the church connection to Plough Monday having been lost, the tradition of going door-to-door asking for money survived.  As there wasn’t a lot of plough work available at this time of year, the ploughmen would seek donations to sustain themselves and their families.  The plough was decorated and the ploughmen would parade through the town stopping at houses and asking for money.  Those who did not give were threatened with having the front yard ploughed over.  These threats were rarely carried out but in some instances were.  Plough Monday traditions fell out of practice in the 18th century but have seen resurgence in recent years.   Costumes and dances and all types of celebrations accompany the parading of the plough.

The significance of Plough Monday as the beginning of the preparation for the year’s harvest as well as the first “back to work in the New Year day” certainly brings things into perspective.  The holidays are over, the New Year has begun, and it is time to put the hand to the plough and start cultivating the fields.  For it remains that the preparation of the land is what allows it to be fruitful and bring forth its yield.

Therefore consider what you need to plough into this month in order to be preparing for this year’s planting.  Do you know what harvest you want to see this year?  Do you know what seeds you need to plant in order to yield that harvest?  Taking time now to determine what fields need ploughing in ready for planting will help to bring forth an eventual harvest.  As this tradition holds, it is time to plough into the new year.  It is time to put the hand to the plough and move forward in cultivating the fields of your life.

Plough on dear friends.  Plough on.

 

[In order to stay consistent with the tradition outlined this post, the use of the UK spelling of “plough” instead of the US spelling of “plow” was used.]

 

Until we meet again, may God hold you in the palm of His hand.

~An Old Irish Blessing~

Marian McCoy Boveri

 

Photo credit:  http://farmiciarestaurant.com/

Christmas Traditions–Epiphany–Three Kings Day

Happy Epiphany!  Happy Three Kings Day!

The Twelve Days of Christmas lead up to the celebration of Epiphany. This day actually marks the beginning of the season of Epiphanytide, known as the Octave of Epiphany, and runs from January 6-13. It is included liturgically in the Christmas Season, although these dates can vary on different calendars. Epiphany is the celebration of the arrival of the Three Kings to visit the Christ child. They came bearing gifts of gold, frankincense, and myrrh. It is considered to be a “celebration of revelation” as it is the day Jesus is revealed to the world. As the Christmas season ends, the faithful are called to go out into the darkness and witness to the light of the Christ child.

The Three Kings of Epiphany

This is considered to be the traditional day on which to take down Christmas decorations, although some have already this done on Twelfth Night. There are others, however, whose traditions dictate keeping decorations up until Candlemas on February 2, which is the Feast of the Purification and the Feast of the Presentation.

Epiphany celebrations hold some wonderful traditions. This is the day that many enjoy a King’s Cake which was discussed on Twelfth Night. One variation on the King’s Cake that is served on Epiphany is to put a small figurine of the Baby Jesus into the bottom of the cake. The person who receives the piece with the Baby Jesus in it is considered “King or Queen of the Day” and is the one who is supposed to hold a party or at least purchase the next King’s Cake. King’s Cakes are also a tradition of Mardi Gras which officially launches its season on Epiphany with parties held every Sunday until the Tuesday before Lent. King’s Cakes are often decorated with the traditional Mardi Gras colors of purple, green, and gold. Purple standing for justice, green for faith, and gold for power.

Epiphany is also time for the traditional blessing of one’s home for the upcoming year which dates from the Middle Ages. The blessing is usually done by the head of the household. The present year and the letters “GMB” are written above the door in chalk and a prayer of blessing follows. They would be written for 2017: “20 + G + M + B + 17”. The letters stand for the three Wise Men who followed the star: Caspar, Melchior, and Balthazar. It is also popularly believed the first letters of each word stands also for the Latin phrase “Christus mansionem benedicat” which means “May Christ bless this house”. The “+” signs represent the cross. This is a wonderful activity to do as a familyas a reminder of love and grace abiding in the home. While the chalk eventually does fade– the blessing remains.

Happy Three Kings Day!

Until we meet again, may God hold you in the palm of His hand!

~An Old Irish Blessing~

Marian McCoy Boveri

 

Photo:  Copyright: <a href=’http://www.123rf.com/profile_ngwozdeva’>ngwozdeva / 123RF Stock Photo</a>

Christmas Traditions–Twelve Days of Christmas–History and Celebration

Celebrate the Twelve Days of Christmas!

Using the song “The Twelve Days of Christmas” to introduce each day, clicking on the picture will take you to an explanation of each day of the “Twelve Days of Christmas” history and celebration.  Here’s to enjoying the true Christmas Season!

The Twelve Days of Christmas

On the first day of Christmas, my true love sent to me…

 

On the second day of Christmas, my true love sent to me…

 

On the third day of Christmas, my true love sent to me…

 

On the fourth day of Christmas, my true love sent to me…

 

On the fifth day of Christmas, my true love sent to me…

 

On the sixth day of Christmas, my true love sent to me…

 

On the seventh day of Christmas, my true love sent to me…

 

On the eight day of Christmas, my true love sent to me…

 

On the ninth day of Christmas, my true love sent to me…

 

On the tenth day of Christmas, my true love sent to me…

 

On the eleventh day of Christmas, my true love sent to me…

 

On the twelfth day of Christmas, my true love sent to me…

 

Merry Christmas!

Until we meet again, may God hold you in the palm of His hand.

~An Old Irish Blessing~

Marian McCoy Boveri

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All photos:

Copyright: <a href=’http://www.123rf.com/profile_eireann‘>eireann / 123RF Stock Photo</a>