Winter Blog Posts

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

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>

Winter Harvest–Decisions Like Seeds Determine the Harvest

The way to experience a bountiful harvest is to decide on what you want to see yielded in the field.  Harvests need to be created purposefully through planning and making the right decisions.  On the surface this may appear to be an easy thing to do.  Yet proper decisions do require some heart-felt reflection.  Without taking the time to reflect upon the true harvests you want to see in your fields, you may be planting the wrong seeds. It is in planting the wrong seeds that you first run the risk of reaping the wrong harvest.   Indeed as you well know–you reap what you sow.  Each decision itself becomes a seed planted in the field.

Each decision is a seed.

Each decision is a seed.

How do you determine the right seeds that need to be sown in the field?

Start with asking yourself:

  • What is the purpose of the harvest?
  • What do you want to see growing in your field?
  • How will this harvest impact your life?

This will help you formulate the proper decisions that will determine the direction of your planting.  Knowing the purpose of the harvest determines the decisions on what to plant in the field.  In the end the outcome of the harvests is dependent upon the choices and decisions you make regarding the seeds that are planted in the fields.  Strategic decision-making and planning is necessary to achieve the harvests you desire.

It is essential that you continually assess what is growing in the fields in order to make the right decisions on how to cultivate, nourish, and protect the harvest.   If what you have planted isn’t growing and bearing fruit, make sure you take the time to stop and reassess the field.  If you find something growing in the field that you did not expect or want, it may be that you have to plow the field under and begin again.

The key is to take the time to make the decisions that are needed to insure a bountiful harvest.

  • Take the time to reflect on your life and what you want to see in it.
  • Gather the seeds that need to be planted in the different fields of your life.
  • Make sure that what you want growing in your fields is actually growing there.

Remember, it is up to you to decide what harvests you want to see in your life.

What will you decide to plant in your fields?

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

~ An Old Irish Blessing

Marian (McCoy) Boveri

Winter Season–Preventing an Accidental Harvest

As January comes to a close, the planning time for this year’s harvest should be well underway.  If you want to see a bountiful harvest in your life–it will require planning.  Taking the time to actually sit down and decide on what you want to see growing in the fields of your life is essential to successful harvests.

Deciding on the direction you want your life to go in and the results you would like to see at the end of the year depends upon you.  Your harvest is directly dependent upon what you do or do not plant and cultivate in the fields of your life.

What will your barn store?

What will your barn store?

Whether or not you take time to plan the harvests you would like to see in your life–it remains that something will indeed grow within the fields.  Even fields that lie fallow grow something–though it may only be weeds or leftover fruits from a harvest past.

  • Do you want to harvest what you desire in your life or will you end up with an accidental harvest?
  • How often have you come to the end of the year, looked back on the goals you hoped to achieve, and realized that the cupboards were bare?
  • How often have you planned the harvest but failed to cultivate or plant the seeds?
  • How often have the fields in your life produced an accidental harvest?

If you don’t take the time to figure out what it is that you want growing in your field, the time will still pass and the growing season with it.  It is possible that some of what you want to see in your life will pass you by if you don’t use the opportunity to be deliberate about what you plant in your fields.

Take time to review the fields of your life and reflect upon the past harvests.

  • Did you plan the harvest or receive an accidental one?

In order to maximize the potential of your harvest:

  1. Identify the field
  2. Determine the harvest and its timing
  3. Select the seeds
  4. Prepare the field
  5. Plant the field
  6. Cultivate the field
  7. Watch over the field

Will this be the year that you grow a bountiful harvest or an accidental one?

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

~An Old Irish Blessing

Marian (McCoy) Boveri

Winter Harvest–Ice Harvesting: A Winter’s Crop

Although the ice trade still exists today, its heyday was during the 19th century ice harvesting which was commonly referred to as the “frozen water trade”.  While snow and ice had been collected and stored for use in summer for as long as anyone could remember, it wasn’t until a 25-year-old Boston entrepreneur, Frederic Tudor, set about to commercialize the harvesting of ice that it became a booming business.  However, Tudor’s first harvest that he attempted to sell didn’t go over so well.  He sent a ship full of ice to sail and sell in the West Indies in 1806.  Upon the ship’s arrival though no one was interested in the product as people just didn’t understand the benefit of everyday use of ice!

Prior to this ice was only available to the wealthy who had the means to afford their own ice houses.  It was not a product that had mass appeal as it does today.  For the most part the storage and preservation of food was not reliant upon ice.  People just didn’t understand the concept of cooling down a drink with ice.  Physicians didn’t understand how ice could reduce fevers either.  People simply didn’t know that they needed ice.  While the use of ice houses, a building insulated allowing for the storage of ice into the summer, was commonplace in wealthier households as early as 1660 in England, the everyday use of ice simply did not exist.  In addition, ice harvesting was a dangerous business.

So in order for the frozen water trade to become successful, Tudor had to convince people that they needed ice.  He took it upon himself to go about the country convincing bartenders to sell chilled drinks and taught restaurants how to make ice cream.  It wasn’t long before people fell in love with the idea of a cooled drink.  By 1821 Tudor had created a real market for ice in several cities.  Now that Tudor had created a market, he set about to develop tools to ease the harvesting of ice.  It was in1826 that Tudor’s foreman, Nathanial Wyett, came up with the idea of using horses to plough cut the ice. [1] For in truth frozen ice became a field in need of harvesting.

Ice harvesting commenced when a foot of ice was on the river or lake.  This typically occurred in January through March in the New England area and in December through February in Norway, two major geographical areas of ice harvesting.   A crop that was dependent upon nature to freeze the field.  And just like any other harvest–the field had to be cultivated in order for it to yield.  Once the water started to freeze it was essential to keep it clear of snow as the snow would slow the ice from freezing at a deeper depth.  So the field was cleared of  weeds just like any other field.  Only the weed that needed to be cleared from the field was snow.

Once the field was ready for harvesting it was then cut or ploughed into long rows and then once again cut across the rows to create the blocks.  Interestingly it was often off-season farmers who worked at the harvesting of winter.  The harvesters  came and cut along the ploughed lines in order to release the ice from the field.  Ice was pulled from the river or pond with ice tongs and sent off in wagons to be stored in ice houses.  The ice harvesters wore special corked shoes and the horses had spiked horse shoes allowing them to work on the ice.

As with all crops, weather can have a positive or negative impact on the harvest.  Mild winters, referred to as “open winters”,  impacted the ice harvest as it was essential for the ice to be 18″ thick in order for the horses and men to work safely on the ice.  Unseasonably mild winters resulted in ice famines, of which 1880 and 1890 being the most extreme.  These ice famines led to the development of commercially produced  ice.  Ice harvesting eventually disappeared  for the most part in the early 20th century as it then no  longer was considered primarily a winter harvest.

At the peak of its production at the end of the 19th century, “the U.S. ice trade employed an estimated 90,000 people in an industry capitalised at $28 million ($660 million in 2010 terms), using ice houses capable of storing up to 250,000 tons each” [2]

Click this link to watch a fascinating and historic way of ice harvesting — Ice Harvest Film circa 1919

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

~An Old Irish Blessing

Marian (McCoy) Boveri

 

[1]  http://mentalfloss.com/article/22407/surprisingly-cool-history-ice

[2]  http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Ice_trade

Winter Season–Developing a Harvest Strategy

Winter is the time to live off the harvest of the previous season.  It is also the time to develop a strategy for the next harvest season.  Even when the fields are covered in a blanket of snow the farmer is planning the harvest.  This can make the difference between a successful harvest that can sustain you or a failed harvest that leaves you without proper sustenance.  Winter is the time to develop a harvest strategy.  It is the time for planning the next harvest.

Even when the fields are covered in a blanket of snow the farmer is planning the harvest.

Even when the fields are covered in a blanket of snow the farmer is planning the harvest.

Looking ahead brings life and meaning to the season of winter.  It cultivates hope and anticipation for all the blessings that the harvest can bring.  Without developing a strategy, however, the harvest is in danger long before the planting is to begin.  Knowing what seeds need to be planted in order to grow the crop that will yield the desired harvest is essential.

Your life is a farm that has various fields within which you can grow a successful harvest.  Just as the fields on a farm require planting with certain seeds in order to reap a specific harvest, the different areas of your life require the same.  It is essential that the farmer knows what he wants to harvest in order to do so.  It is essential that you know what you want to harvest in order to reach your destination.  If you don’t know the crop that you want planted in a field, how can you expect it to grow?  Planning can bring clarification.

The farmer takes time to plan the crops he will be planting for the upcoming harvest season.  He is intentional about what he plants.  He plans the sowing of his crops so that he can receive the harvest he desires.  Just as the farmer plans his harvest, you too need to take time to plan the harvests you want to see in your life.  Determining the goals you want to see accomplished will help you to determine the seeds you need to plant to receive the desired harvest.  You need to plan the harvest you want to see in your life.

Considering the various fields within each of the areas you want to see a harvest in your life can help you determine what seeds need planting and what fields need to be put aside for another season.

  • Fields of Faith
  • Fields of Family
  • Fields of Home
  • Fields of Health
  • Fields of Business/Career
  • Fields of Finances
  • Fields of Friends
  • Fields of Leisure
  • Fields of Self Development

Start planning your harvest by asking yourself some basic questions:

  • What fields need cultivating?
  • What shall the harvest of these fields be?

Once you know the fields you want to cultivate, you will know what to plant in those fields.  You may discover that there are fields that need to be put aside this year.  When a field is put aside and left unsown it is considered to lie fallow.

  • Are there fields that need to lay fallow this year?
  • Are there fallow fields that need to be reclaimed this year?

Just as a farm has different fields that can yield a harvest depending upon what is planted within, your life has different fields that yield a harvest depending upon what you plant and cultivate.

What do you plan to harvest this year?

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

~An Old Irish Blessing

Marian (McCoy) Boveri

Winter Season–Living Off the Harvest

Fall harvest celebrations were traditionally held to express thanksgiving for the abundance of plenty that could be stored up and lived on during the scarcity of the cold and dark winter.  Historically winter’s survival was dependent upon the harvest.  A poor or lost harvest meant certain desperation as concern for survival was indeed a real and pressing problem.

Winter's Harvest in the Barn

Winter’s Harvest in the Barn

Winter is a time for living off of the harvest.  In modern life, full dependence upon what can be harvested and stored is uncommon as food is pretty much accessible year-round.  If you look at the harvest as the results you have in the various aspects or fields of your life; however, the harvest does indeed once again become important to store up in order to survive life’s winter seasons.

What do you do if you find that your time of plenty was not so plentiful?  How do you live off the harvest when all you can see are lost hopes and dreams?  What do you do when your daily life has become a struggle just to survive?

Being caught up in the need to survive–even on an emotional level–can lead you to living in a suspended “crisis mode” known as “fight-or-flight”.  This primitive protective mechanism was important when confronted with a saber tooth tiger that required actual physical activity in order to survive.  However, today’s saber tooth tigers and failed harvests are oftentimes psychological stressors such as missing a deadline, traffic delays, financial issues, and such that do not require actual physical activity to escape immediate danger.  Nevertheless, the same “crisis mode” of “fight-or-flight” gets activated.

What you may not realize is that constant stress can cause you to actually get stuck in this “crisis mode” and start living everyday in mere survival.  When you get stuck in living in survival your decisions become impacted negatively.   Your ability to cultivate the seeds needed to have a good harvest is inhibited.  In essence, you get stuck living in the winter with no harvest stored in the barn to sustain you.  Excessive stress and a life lived with continual short-term emergencies lead to becoming overwhelmed.

So how do you change out of this “survival mode” and back into cultivating positive attitudes and beliefs?  How do you move away from focusing on just the short-term survival and start focusing on long-term results?

  1.  Increase your physical activity.  On the surface you may think, “How does exercise change my world?”  It gives your body a chance to engage in the “fight-or-flight” and burn off all the excess stress hormones.  This will lead to a clearer mind and more introspective thinking.  Even 10 minutes of activity will help regain clarity.
  2. Change your environment.  What you surround yourself with will impact your stress level. Changing your physical environment to reflect a more peaceful reality is essential.  Sometimes this may be getting out of toxic relationship or leaving a stress-filled job.  Changing your spiritual environment by seeking an understanding of your God-given purpose and direction will change your focus from just surviving to long-term thriving.  Spending time in prayer will help to bring peace and clarity.  Resolving to release negative feelings of worthlessness, shame, and guilt will help to build a more positive environment.
  3. Change your perceptions.  One of the easiest and effective ways to change your perceptions is to use affirmations.  Affirmations have the ability to change your beliefs through continuous repetition by replacing the negative thoughts with more positive ones.  Focusing on affirmations can also help to quiet the mind which is key to moving beyond the anxiety and fears into a place of clearer understanding, truth, and love.

What ways will you start storing your harvests in order to survive the winters of your life?

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

~ An Old Irish Blessing

Marian (McCoy) Boveri