Winter Blog Posts

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

The ninth day of Christmas is the feast day of St. Basil the Great (his feast day is also celebrated on January 1 on some liturgical calendars) and St. Gregory Nazianzen (also known as Gregory the Theologian). They were both bishops in the 4th century. St. Basil and St. Gregory attended school together and developed a friendship that ultimately shaped Christian theology. They shared a common resolve to be of service to God while leaving worldly pleasures behind. St. Basil was a powerful defender and advocate for the Nicene Creed which stands as the symbol of faith widely used in Christian liturgy to this day. He was known as a prominent and influential Christian theologian as well as for his charity and care of the poor and underprivileged. St. Basil founded several monasteries and was instrumental in the establishment of guidelines for monastic life such as focus on community living, prayer, and manual labor. He is remembered as one of the great teachers of the Church.

St. Gregory Nazianzen was also a prominent and influential Christian theologian, especially in the doctrine of the Trinitarian theology. He is also known for his great charity as he devoted most of his large inheritance to the care of the poor. He was responsible for the preservation of faith in Constantinople despite being slandered, assaulted, and having a rival Bishop attempt to take over his Diocese. When St. Gregory retired, he spent his remaining years writing. He was considered one of the finest orators of his time.

It is a tradition to bake sweet bread that has a coin in it, bless the baked bread, and serve it to the family on St. Basil’s feast day. This is sometimes referred to as the “Vasilopita” which translates to “Sweet Bread of Basil.” Tradition holds that the person who receives the coin is commissioned to preserve St. Basil’s work of helping the poor as well as to be especially blessed for the New Year. The tradition of placing coins into sweet bread dates back to the 4th century. In order to preserve the dignity of the poor so that it did not look like charity, St. Basil had coins baked into bread and then distributed. While cutting into the bread for nourishment the people then received a pleasant surprise.

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

~nine ladies dancing...

~nine ladies dancing…

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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

~An Old Irish Blessing~

Marian McCoy Boveri

 

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Day 2:  Copyright: <a href=’http://www.123rf.com/profile_eireann‘>eireann / 123RF Stock Photo</a>

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Day 8:  Copyright: <a href=’http://www.123rf.com/profile_eireann‘>eireann / 123RF Stock Photo</a>

Day 9:  Copyright: <a href=’http://www.123rf.com/profile_eireann‘>eireann / 123RF Stock Photo</a>

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

HAPPY NEW YEAR! The eighth day of Christmas is New Year’s Day as well as the Solemnity of Mary the Mother of God and the Feast of the Circumcision of Christ. The celebration of Mary as the mother of Jesus can be traced back to as early as 431 AD. This day has undergone different names throughout history and was originally known as the Anniversary of the Mother of God. By the 7th century it was known as the Maternity of the Blessed Virgin Mary. As other feasts to Mary were placed on the calendar, January 1 came to be known as the Feast of the Circumcision of Christ sometime in the 13th century. This would have been the day that the Christ child was circumcised in accordance with Jewish tradition.

In the 18th century a feast honoring Mary as the Mother of God was once again put on the calendar in various churches on the first Sunday of May then moved to October 11 in 1914. Mary’s feast day as Mother of God was returned to its original date of January 1 in the General Roman Calendar as the Solemnity of Mary, Mother of God in 1974. However, January 1 is still referred to as the Feast of the Circumcision of Christ on other liturgical calendars. It is also the last day in the Octave of Christmas.

The celebration of New Year’s Day goes back at least to 2000 BC but it was originally celebrated mid-March. The first time it was celebrated on January 1 was in 153 BC in Rome. New Year’s Day was celebrated on various dates thereafter but in 1582 the Gregorian calendar restored it to January 1. New Year’s Day is traditionally seen as a day that marks a clean slate—a day to begin anew. As such it is traditional to make New Year’s resolutions meant to improve one’s life. It is a day that is believed to set the tone for the rest of the year. Traditions include hospitality and gathering with family and loved ones and it is common to hold an open house.

The serving of certain foods that are seen as bringing good luck for the New Year is also another common tradition. Some of these foods include: Grapes representing sweetness and good fortune eaten in twelve or thirteen for each month of the year and one for good luck; greens representing paper money; black-eyed peas or legumes representing coins; cornbread representing gold; pork symbolizing prosperity and progress; fish symbolizing abundance; noodles symbolizing long life; and cakes or foods shaped in a circle symbolizing the year in its fullness.

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

~eight maids a milking...

~eight maids a milking…

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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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Day 1:  Copyright: <a href=’http://www.123rf.com/profile_eireann‘>eireann / 123RF Stock Photo</a>

Day 2:  Copyright: <a href=’http://www.123rf.com/profile_eireann‘>eireann / 123RF Stock Photo</a>

Day 3:  Copyright: <a href=’http://www.123rf.com/profile_eireann‘>eireann / 123RF Stock Photo</a>

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Day 6:  Copyright: <a href=’http://www.123rf.com/profile_eireann‘>eireann / 123RF Stock Photo</a>

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Day 8:  Copyright: <a href=’http://www.123rf.com/profile_eireann‘>eireann / 123RF Stock Photo</a>

Christmas Tradition–The Twelve Days of Christmas–On the seventh day…

The seventh day of Christmas is New Year’s Eve and also the Feast of St. Sylvester I who was one of the earliest Popes and served from 314 to 335 AD. In many eastern European countries this last day of the year is called “Sylvester”. St. Sylvester was Pope during an era in which the Christian Church was able to come out of hiding and into a time of peace after much turbulence and persecution. He was a friend of Emperor Constantine, the first Christian ruler of Rome. St. Sylvester also founded the Rome school of singing which was established to preserve and pass on the songs and melodies of old tradition.

New Year’s Eve is a time of hospitality and social gathering in anticipation of welcoming in the New Year. It is a time of watch to usher out the old, let go of the past, and welcome in the new. One way of welcoming in the New Year is to kiss the one you love (or even the one nearest you) as a way of bringing good luck. This tradition originates in the kiss being a greeting and the New Year’s kiss then being an offering of a blessing or protection. In former days, the New Year was often a time of entering into a vulnerable season in which survival was difficult.

Another tradition is to offer a toast to welcome in the New Year and all its promises. One of the traditions of “Sylvester” is drinking punch which originated as a drink in the early 1600s. This is a great way to have a special drink to toast in the New Year as it is both festive and easy to make in large quantities. This would be a good time to take a moment to express gratitude for the blessings of the past year and to wish peace and prosperity upon the coming year.

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

~seven swans a swimming...

~seven swans a swimming…

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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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Day 1:  Copyright: <a href=’http://www.123rf.com/profile_eireann‘>eireann / 123RF Stock Photo</a>

Day 2:  Copyright: <a href=’http://www.123rf.com/profile_eireann‘>eireann / 123RF Stock Photo</a>

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Christmas Traditions–The Twelve Days of Christmas–On the sixth day…

The sixth day of Christmas is the Feast of St. Egwin of Worcester who died on this day circa 717 AD. He was the Bishop of Worcester as well as the founder of one of the greatest Benedictine monasteries of the Middle Ages in Evesham, England. He was known as a protector of orphans and widows as well as a fair judge. In addition, the Feast of the Holy Family sometimes falls on this date. Keeping in mind St. Egwin’s role as protector of orphans and widows and his enforcement of Christian principles including marriage, enjoining the celebration of his feast on this sixth day of Christmas with the Feast of the Holy Family is quite fitting.

The first use of the term “Holy Family” in reference to Jesus, Mary, and Joseph is attributed to St. Bernardine of Siena circa 1440 but did not come into common usage until the early part of the 17th century. Prior to this the Holy Family was referred to as the “earthly Trinity”. This was due to the fact that the concept of family as we know it today did not really emerge until the 17th century. Prior to this the word “family” was used interchangeably with the word “household”. Anyone living under the authority of the same head of the house was considered to be “family”. This included relatives as well as servants. In addition, it also pertained to groups including noblemen or even the staff of military officers.

St. Egwin would therefore have had a large “family” as he was in charge of a monastery. As can happen in families, discipline is not always accepted and this was the case with St. Egwin. His ways were seen as overly strict and complaints were filed against him with Rome. St. Egwin then made a journey to Rome shackled in ankle chains as penance for any wrongdoing he may have done. He was found to have done no wrong and returned to the monastery. Correcting improper behavior can often be met with opposition, but it is necessary for the growth and strength of a family.

Traditionally, the family is where one learns values. This is a great day to take time to reflect upon your family culture. Evaluate which activities support your values and which activities could be added to further enrich your family life. Take time to do something today that is special to your family. It is a great day to have a family feast or serve a dish that celebrates your family’s uniqueness. Gather together and have each member share something they enjoy about their family.

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

~six geese a laying...

~six geese a laying…

 

 

 

 

 

 

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–The Twelve Days of Christmas–On the fifth day…

The fifth day of Christmas is the Feast of St. Thomas Becket who was the Archbishop of Canterbury and martyred on this date in 1170 AD. St. Thomas Becket was at one time the chancellor to King Henry II and the two became good friends as they both shared mutual interests as well as a love of luxury. Soon after being named Archbishop, St. Thomas began to change his outlook on life by giving up his former indulgences and focusing on penance and prayer. Though the history regarding the eventual murder of St. Thomas is quite in-depth, including his exile and return; it involves his standing up against the absolute powers of the King in the matters of the Church.

We must remember that in St. Thomas’ time, people had few fundamental liberties. In addition, the Church offered certain protections to widows and orphans contained within their laws and proceedings. Therefore people regarded the Church as leading the cause of standing up against unfair, unjust, and sometimes brutal rule. The very precepts of the authority of the Church were being challenged by King Henry II.

St. Thomas’ brutal murder was met with an outcry across Europe and almost immediately the site of his death became a place of pilgrimage. In fact Chaucer’s Canterbury Tales was written about a pilgrimage to the very church where St. Thomas was martyred. It is said that St. Thomas displayed the virtue of perseverance and fought for the protection of others. He is known as the saint of courage.

Tradition holds a hallowed time between Christmas and Epiphany. An ancient tradition during this time is to go from house to house singing carols. While there are no set traditions for this fifth day of Christmas, St. Thomas was martyred during evening vespers, a time of prayer begun by singing. Gathering together with family and friends to participate in the tradition of caroling would fit well into the celebration of the fifth day of Christmas.

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

~five gold rings...

~five gold rings…

 

 

 

 

 

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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Day 1:  Copyright: <a href=’http://www.123rf.com/profile_eireann’>eireann / 123RF Stock Photo</a>

Day 2:  Copyright: <a href=’http://www.123rf.com/profile_eireann’>eireann / 123RF Stock Photo</a>

Day 3:  Copyright: <a href=’http://www.123rf.com/profile_eireann’>eireann / 123RF Stock Photo</a>

Day 4:  Copyright: <a href=’http://www.123rf.com/profile_eireann’>eireann / 123RF Stock Photo</a>

Day 5:  Copyright: <a href=’http://www.123rf.com/profile_eireann’>eireann / 123RF Stock Photo</a>

Christmas Traditions–The Twelve Days of Christmas–On the fourth day…

The fourth day of Christmas is the Feast of the Holy Innocents also called Childermas or Innocent’s Day.  The earliest recording of the celebration of this feast is 485 AD when mentioned as following the feasts of St. Stephen and St. John.   It is held in remembrance of the children who were put to death by King Herod following his decree that all male infants in Bethlehem aged two and under be killed. This was Herod’s attempt to destroy the Christ child after the Wise Men seeking “the newborn king of the Jews” did not return to tell him where the child could be found.

The children are remembered during the Christmas season as they lost their lives because of Herod’s hatred and fear of the Christ child and they are considered martyrs.    Indeed Christmas joy is tempered today by this sadness yet the loss of their innocent lives reminds us of the preciousness of all life, especially those of children.

This day is considered a day for children.  Tradition has it as a day to bless your children for protection and intercede for the protection of all children especially those in danger.  Some traditions have the youngest child become “king” for the day and as such rules the day by making decisions about what to eat or what activities to do.  Another tradition is to serve soft food as infants would eat and to serve a food red in color which is usually a dessert in remembrance of the children whose lives were lost.

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

...four calling birds

~four calling birds…

 

 

 

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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Day 1:  Copyright: <a href=’http://www.123rf.com/profile_eireann’>eireann / 123RF Stock Photo</a>

Day 2:  Copyright: <a href=’http://www.123rf.com/profile_eireann’>eireann / 123RF Stock Photo</a>

Day 3:  Copyright: <a href=’http://www.123rf.com/profile_eireann’>eireann / 123RF Stock Photo</a>

Day 4:  Copyright: <a href=’http://www.123rf.com/profile_eireann’>eireann / 123RF Stock Photo</a>

Christmas Traditions–The Twelve Days of Christmas–On the third day…

The third day of Christmas is the Feast of St. John in remembrance of St. John the Apostle who is described as the disciple “whom Jesus loved”. On this day the church offered a special blessing of wine in honor of St. John. The blessed wine was called the “Love of St. John” and used for special occasions throughout the year and for the sick. Legend tells of St. John drinking a glass of poisoned wine but not suffering any harm as he had blessed the wine before its drinking.

On this day it was a tradition to drink “to the love of St. John”. St. John’s wine was often served warm with mulling spices added creating a special drink for the day. The tradition called for the father of the house to lift his glass to the mother and say: “I drink you the love of St. John.” and the mother would reply: “I thank you for the love of St. John.” Then the mother would turn to the oldest child and repeat the same. Each person once toasted turns to the next in age until all had given and received the toast.

The idea behind the tradition is for the head of the household to begin the toast and pass it around to the oldest down to the youngest. Although it is certainly still within tradition to simply pass a glass to each guest while saying “I drink you the love of St. John.” as the recipient replies “I thank you for the love of St. John.”

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

...three french hens

~ three french hens…

 

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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Day 1:  Copyright: <a href=’http://www.123rf.com/profile_eireann’>eireann / 123RF Stock Photo</a>

Day 2:  Copyright: <a href=’http://www.123rf.com/profile_eireann’>eireann / 123RF Stock Photo</a>

Day 3:  Copyright: <a href=’http://www.123rf.com/profile_eireann’>eireann / 123RF Stock Photo</a>

 

Christmas Tradition–The Twelve Days of Christmas–On the second day…

The “Twelve Days of Christmas” has become synonymous with the well-known Christmas carol of the same name first published in England in 1780 and believed to be of French origin. In actuality it is a period of time marking the celebration of Christmas from Christmas Day to Epiphany first decreed as such circa 567. It is also known as “Christmastide”.

The second day of Christmas is St. Stephen’s Day which commemorates the first Christian martyr and became a day in which to share leftover food from Christmas with the poor. In some countries, including Ireland, it is called Wren’s Day. In countries with a UK origin, it is also known as Boxing Day after the boxes that were opened on this day to share the alms with the poor. It is the day in which servants and tradesmen received their Christmas gifts from their bosses or employers which came to be known as a “Christmas box”. It was also tradition to give servants the day off in order to celebrate Christmas with their families.

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

Two Turtle Doves

~ two turtle doves and…

 

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

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

Christmas Tradition–The Twelve Days of Christmas–On the first day…

Merry Christmas!  Did you know that the twelve days of Christmas BEGIN on Christmas Day?!  The celebration of Christmas lasts twelve days–to the “Twelfth Night”–and ends on January 6, which is Epiphany.

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

First Day of Christmas

~ a partridge in a pear tree!

 

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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Day 1:  Copyright: <a href=’http://www.123rf.com/profile_eireann’>eireann / 123RF Stock Photo</a>

Celebrate Traditions ~ St. Valentine’s Day

What a great Valentine’s Day tradition!!!  Found this at decorating-by-day.com (http://goo.gl/lia6E5).  Great for home, school, or even your office!  Spread the love with encouraging words written on hearts and posted on the door.  Start February 1st and finish on February 14th, St. Valentine’s Day.

1-14.valentine's door