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

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

 

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Christmas Tradition–Twelve Days of Christmas–On the twelfth day…

The twelfth day of Christmas is celebrated as Twelfth Night. It is the eve of the Epiphany and the end of the Christmas season. Epiphany is the celebration of when the Three Wise Men arrived to visit the Christ child. Twelfth Night is a night of celebration and parties signifying the end of the Christmas season.

Central to the festivities is a King’s Cake. In some places the King’s Cake is baked on the Twelfth Night and served on Epiphany. In other traditions it is eaten on this night. King’s Cake is believed to have originated in France sometime in the 12th century. The cake was made in the shape of a circle to portray the circular route that the Kings took so as not to disclose the location of the Christ child. King’s Cakes were originally made with flour, egg, butter, spices, and sometimes fruit.

A dried bean was baked into the cake and whoever received the piece with the bean in it was considered “King” for the evening. The “King” would choose his “Queen” and both would reign for the evening directing others to do their bidding. Sometime during the Georgian period, circa 1714-1830, a dried pea was added to the cake as well so that the woman who received the pea would then become “Queen”.

Another tradition of this night was to drink “Wassail” a drink that was originally made of mulled ale, curdled cream, roasted apples, eggs, cloves, nutmeg and sugar. The drink was served in huge bowls usually made of silver or pewter. Great ceremony was involved in bringing the “Wassail” bowl into the room for serving and celebration.

Tradition holds that this is the last day in the celebration of the Christmas season. As with all nights contained within the Christmas season, Christmas carols were sung. The Christmas carol, “We Three Kings” is a good carol to sing on this night. Tradition also held the lighting of the Christmas Tree and Christmas Candle every evening during the Twelve Days of Christmas. It is considered tradition to light the way for the Wise Men on this night. It is also a night in which the Three Wise Men are placed next to the Manger.

Merry Christmas!

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

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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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Christmas Traditions–Twelve Days of Christmas–On the eleventh day…

The eleventh day of Christmas is the feast day of St. Simeon the Stylite in the tradition of the early Church (also celebrated January 5 and September 1 on different liturgical calendars). It is also the feast day of St. Elizabeth Ann Seton, who is considered to be the first American-born saint.

St. Simeon’s faith was influenced by hearing the Beatitudes when he was a young boy in the early 4th century. Upon coming of age he sought out the monastic life and devoted himself to extreme self-denial and prayer. So disciplined and extreme was he in his sacrifice that he was found unfit for community life. St. Simeon then went to live as a hermit. When he went the whole of lent without food or drink, it was considered to be miraculous.

There were so many who sought him for prayer and advice that the only way in which to remove himself from people was to build a pillar upon which to live. He would become the first of the pillar hermits. His pillar became a pilgrimage site in which many sought from him spiritual counsel, intervention, and prayer. St. Simeon devoted his life to prayer and self-sacrifice but also gave exhortations twice daily and his words brought many conversions. A series of pillars were built with the last being at least 50 feet high. He lived upon a pillar for the last 37-40 years of his life.

St. Elizabeth Seton was made a saint in 1975 with her feast day falling on this date. She is the first native-born American citizen to be made a saint by the Roman Catholic Church. Elizabeth was born into a wealthy family in New York in 1774. Her mother died three years after birth and her father remarried. This marriage ended in separation and Elizabeth was rejected by her step-mother and went to live with her Uncle. She married a wealthy businessman and had five children. Her husband died of tuberculosis complications brought on by the stress of bankruptcy in 1803 just nine years after their marriage. Having traveled to Italy for her husband’s health, after her husband’s death, the widow Elizabeth was taken in by a Catholic family and she converted shortly after her return to the U.S. in 1805.

In 1810 she founded the first Catholic school in America as well as the first American religious community for women, the Sisters of Charity, and the first American Catholic orphanage. She was a volunteer, wife, mother, friend of the poor, teacher, and servant to God. She lived her life by seeking the will of God and attending to daily life through living in the grace of the moment.

St. Simeon gave up worldly pleasures for the divine. This reminds us of the simplicity in which the Christ child was born into. St. Elizabeth lost her wealth and was left as a poor widow who then dedicated her life to doing God’s will. This reminds us of the purpose of Christ’s birth. Take time today to celebrate the Christmas season in a simple way. Tradition holds that gathering together with family and friends is the main focus of the Twelve Days of Christmas. Reading a Christmas story together is a beautiful way to gather in celebration of the season.

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

~eleven pipers piping…

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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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Christmas Tradition–Twelve Days of Christmas–On the tenth day…

The tenth day of Christmas is celebrated as the feast of the Holy Name of Jesus on some liturgical calendars and is also the feast day of St. Genevieve. The observance of the memorial of the Holy Name of Jesus is sometimes celebrated on other dates in various churches including January 1. The placement of this memorial during the Christmas season serves as a reminder once again of the reason for the season.

Reverence for the Holy Name of Jesus can certainly be traced to apostolic times. The popularity of its devotion became prominent in the late 12th century when an emphasis was placed on the need for the faithful to have a special devotion to the Holy Name of Jesus. This devotion was spread through Cistercian monks and nuns as well as Dominican preachers who taught specifically on the power of the name of Jesus.

Another Dominican preacher, St. Bernardine of Sienna and his student, St. John Capistrano, is considered to have largely promoted this devotion in the early 15th century. St. Bernardine used this devotion in his preaching throughout Italy to help overcome class struggles and ease family rivalries especially involving vendettas. The first known official celebration of a feast day to the Holy Name of Jesus was held in 1530 by the Franciscans.

St. Genevieve is a French saint who lived from circa 419 to 512. At the young age of seven a prophecy was made by St. Germaine that through the example of her life many would be brought to faith. She is credited with saving the city of Paris from being attacked by Atilla the Hun when she implored the inhabitants of France to remain rather than flee and devote themselves to prayer and penance. The approaching army turned towards another city and left Paris untouched. She was also known for her self-sacrifice and charity.

It is tradition on this day to reflect upon the Holy Name of Jesus and what His birth meant to the world. Tradition holds singing Christmas carols during the Twelve Days of Christmas. This would be a good day to sing Christmas carols to remind us once again that we are still within the Christmas season. In celebration of this day take a moment to remind children that the name of Jesus is to be treated with respect and that it is in itself considered a powerful prayer.

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

~ten lords a leaping...

~ten lords a leaping…

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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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