It’s Friday, which is awesome. It’s always awesome to know that there will two full days of puttering around and doing what we want, right? What I want is to sleep until I wake up on my own, get a lovely brunch made for us, then get to work on my office. Now that Christmas is put away, much of it is still hanging out in boxes in what will be my office soon. I deliberately left much of it out of the closet so I’d have to organize it better. As soon as I have floor space available Hubby will put together my new desk! I’m pretty excited to get everything in order. Finally. It’s been a long time coming.
Verse of the Day
As it is written: “No eye has seen, no ear has heard, no mind has conceived what God has prepared for those who love him.
Thoughts on the Verse of the Day
Many of the things we anticipate and dream about are much less glorious in real life than they were in our imaginations. There is one event, however, that is better than we can imagine and beyond our wildest dreams. When Jesus returns to take us home to be with our Father, it will be far better than we can ask, imagine, dream or think. Maranatha — Come Lord Jesus!
Food for Thought
Wouldn’t it be nice if the media went back to what they were years ago? Impartial harbingers of what is happening, without any type of leaning to the left or right? Just saying it like it is and keeping their opinions to themselves? And wouldn’t it be nice if actors and musicians would just entertain us with their acting or music and just SHUT UP with their opinions? Seriously WHY should we CARE what they think? WHY? Tell me one reason their opinions are more valid than anyone else’s? They aren’t.
Bubble Gum Day – This one is pretty fun and quite creative! A lady by the name of Ruth Spiro, who is a writer, a children’s book author and a fan of bubble gum, had two kids in school who always seemed to have a fundraiser going on. Anyone of us who have had children in school, and now in my case, grandchildren, know just how often those fundraisers happen, and seriously, they end up costing the parents and grandparents time and money. She created Bubble Gum Day – and here is how it works. On Bubble Gum Day the kids, or grown-ups, who donate the designated amount (usually 50 cents) or more, get to chew gum in school. The money goes to any charity that the school chooses. The kids have fun while raising money and some creative teachers even include bubble gum in their lessons for the day. Many libraries, community centers and businesses celebrate this one, since the kid in many of us still loves bubble gum!
Candelmas / Day of Purification – Celebrated on the Modern calendar – February 2nd; On the Julian calendar – February 15th
I admit that I don’t know that much about Catholic festivities, so I didn’t know anything at all about this one until a few years ago. I’d heard the name, but didn’t know what it was, but I’m glad that now I do. It’s interesting! Candlemas is the last holiday of the Christmas season . . . bet you thought you were all done, right? It is the Christian celebration, or festival, of the Feast of the Purification of the Virgin Mary. It also is the annual blessing of the candles used by the church. So, what is the Feast of Purification? According to Jewish customs, women were considered to be “unclean” after the birth of a child. The unclean period lasted 40 days after a son was born, and 60 days after a daughter was born. (I didn’t say it was fair – just reporting the history!) Throughout this period of time they were not allowed into the temple to worship. When their time was finished, the woman was brought into the temple and “purified” in a ceremony. After the birth of Jesus, Mary was purified on Candlemas/the Feast of the Purification. On Candlemas, candles used during the year are blessed. In Christian churches, candles represent Jesus Christ as the light, the truth and the way. I like the ceremony of it all – it completes the season perfectly.
Crepe Day / La Chandeleur – This one is an extension of Candlemas. In France they call this one la Chandeleur, or jour des crepes. Not only do the French eat a lot of crepes today, but they also do a bit of fortune telling while they are making them. The tradition is to hold a coin in their writing hand, and a crepe pan in the other, and flip the crepe into the air. If they manage to catch the crepe in the pan, the family will be prosperous for the rest of the year. I don’t get what the coin is all about, but it is still interesting, right? I’d never be able to catch the crepe in the pan – with or without it being in my dominant hand. There are all kinds of French proverbs and sayings for Chandeleur, and here are a few.
(If you think about it, they are very similar to the Groundhog’s Day predictions here in the U.S.)
À la Chandeleur, l’hiver cesse ou reprend vigueur On Candlemas, winter ends or strengthens. (Doesn’t this seem like a contradiction?)
À la Chandeleur, le jour croît de deux heures On Candlemas, the day grows by two hours. (or perhaps an exaggeration?)
Chandeleur couverte, quarante jours de perte Candlemas covered (in snow), forty days lost.
Rosée à la Chandeleur, hiver à sa dernière heure Dew on Candlemas, winter at its final hour.
Give Kids a Smile Day – In 2003 The American Dental Association started the “Give Kids A Smile” program. It was a way for dentists to join with others in their communities to make sure that the children who weren’t getting regular dental care because of financial restrictions, the services they needed. In the beginning the program started as a one-day event in February, but it has grown to include local and national events year round. Dentists and other dental team members volunteer their time, and their services, to provide screenings, treatments and dental education to children throughout the United States each year. Approximately 450,000 children are benefiting from more than 1500 events each year, all due to the efforts and generosity of more than 40,000 volunteers. How wonderful!
Groundhog – as odd as this is to admit, I’ve known what Groundhog Day is about . . . sort of . . . all my life, but I never bothered to pay attention to the details – like how it all started or why, until I started this blog four years ago. Just about every elementary school student colors a picture of his cute furry little face in school. Even as a little girl it never made sense to me that a critter seeing his shadow – or not – would have anything whatsoever to do with the future weather, but I remember closing my eyes tight and wishing with everything in me that he saw his shadow since that meant more winter. I always loved winter and was never ready for it to be over. I still feel that way. I’d be more than thrilled if we had snow most of the time. Anyway, today I’ve learned a bit more about this incredible weather predictor who comes out each year to determine whether spring is around the corner or if we have more winter in store. Groundhog Day is celebrated in the United States each year on February 2nd. It is on this mid-winter day that our little groundhog friend wakes up from his slumber, goes outside of his den, and looks around to see if he can see his shadow. On a day that is otherwise cold and dreary, this tradition is a bit of a pick-me-up. The legend is that if the groundhog sees his shadow (on a sunny morning), that we will have six more seeks of winter. He’ll crawl back into his little hole and fall back to sleep for a few more weeks. If he does NOT see his shadow (a cloudy day) he will play around outside of his den for awhile, and spring will be just around the corner. Have you ever wondered HOW we came to have this lovely story and tradition? Well, it comes from German roots. German immigrants brought this tradition with them, and as they settled into the hills of Pennsylvania, they began the tradition of using the groundhog to predict the coming of spring. The day that is the midpoint between winter and spring is Candlemas, and that is what this tradition is based upon. There is a Candlemas poem that goes like this:
If Candlemas be fair and bright, Winter has another flight. If Candlemas brings clouds and rain, Winter will not come again.
The site of the annual Groundhog event is Punxsutawney, Pennsylvania. Our little furry friend has been named Punxsutawney Phil. There are other winter/spring predictor’s around the country, but I get the impression that they are more like Santa’s helpers are to him – they do the job because Punxsutawney can’t be everywhere at once for all the people. Phil’s the top dog . . .um. . . hog.
I found this trivia about Groundhog’s Day on this site – it’s pretty interesting!
Yes, Punxsutawney Phil is the only true weather forecasting groundhog. The others are just impostors. There has been only one Punxsutawney Phil. Punxsutawney Phil gets his longevity from drinking “groundhog punch” (a secret recipe). One sip, which is administered every summer at the Groundhog Picnic, gives him seven more years of life. On February 2nd, Phil comes out of his burrow on Gobbler’s Knob, in front of thousands of faithful followers from all over the world, to predict the weather for the rest of the winter. According to legend, if Punxsutawney Phil sees his shadow, there will be six more weeks of winter weather. If he does not see his shadow, there will be an early spring. No, Punxsutawney Phil’s forecasts are not made in advance by the Inner Circle. After Phil emerges from his burrow on February 2nd, he speaks to the Groundhog Club President in Groundhogsese. His proclamation is then translated for the world. The celebration of Groundhog Day began with the Germans, Pennsylvania’s earliest settlers. They brought with them the legend of Candlemas Day, which states “For as the sun shines on Candlemas day, so far will the snow swirl in May…”. The settlers found that groundhogs were plentiful and were the most intelligent and sensible animal to carry on the legend of Candlemas Day. Punxsutawney held its first Groundhog Day in the 1800’s. The first official trek to Gobbler’s Knob made on February 2nd, 1887.
So the story goes, Punxsutawney Phil was named after King Phillip. Prior to being called Phil, he was called Br’er Groundhog.
Hedgehog – And here is yet another take on the whole rodent weather prediction method. Apparently long before we began looking forward to the spring forecast from Punxsutawney Phil in Pennsylvania, and Wiarton Willie in Ontario, there was another critter long before them who paved the way for them. The Romans observed similar weather prediction events 1000 years ago on the exact same day, but instead of using a groundhog, they used a Hedgehog! My daughter will like this one since she used to have a sweet little pet hedgehog named Peekaboo. The legend says “If during hibernation, he (the hedgehog) looks out of his den on 2nd February and sees his shadow it means there is a clear moon and six more weeks of winter so he returns to his burrow. The difference between the ancient Roman event and the current version (except for the critter) is that the Romans took the hedgehog out at night to see if he saw his shadow under a clear moon. Since hedgehogs aren’t indigenous to North America, the groundhog was substituted instead.
Imbolc – I don’t typically write about pagan holidays, but sometimes I will run across one that intrigues me with its connection to Christianity. This one is a holiday that has a variety of names, depending on the culture or location you are studying. In the Irish Gaelic they call it Oimelc – which translated means “ewe’s milk”. It is the precursor to the end of winter when the ewes are nursing their newly born lambs. When that happens, spring and the planting season are right around the corner. To the Romans it is called Lupercalia – the time that is halfway between the Winter Solstice and the Spring Equinox. Theirs is a purification ritual that happens on February 15th, during which a goat was sacrificed and a scourge made of its hide. Men dressed in thongs (I’m fairly certain thong meant something different then than it does now) ran through the city, whacking people with the bits of goat hide, and the people who were hit felt themselves to be fortunate. I don’t know WHY they felt it was fortunate, so I guess you’d have to be Roman back in the day to know. The ancient Egyptians celebrated this time as The Feast of Nut. According to the Book of The Dead, Nut was seen as a mother figure to the sun god Ra, who at sunrise was known as Khepera and took the form of a scarab beetle. When Ireland converted to Christianity it was difficult to convince people to stop worshiping their old gods, so the church allowed them to worship the goddess Brighid as a saint, which became St. Brigid’s Day. Today there are many churches around the world that bear the name of St. Brigid.
So let’s look a bit at The Goddess Brighid, shall we? She was the keeper of the sacred flame, the guardian of home and hearth. To honor her, purification and cleaning was a wonderful way to get ready for the coming of spring, and doesn’t that sound familiar to all of us? Spring cleaning is an annual ritual in most households! In addition to fire, she was a goddess that was connected to inspiration and creativity. In modern Paganism, Brighid is seen as part of the triune of maiden/mother/crone. She is said to walk the earth on the eve of her day, and before going to bed each member of the household is to leave a piece of clothing outside for her to bless. At night before bed people are to rake their ashes in their fireplaces to make them smooth, and when they get up in the morning look for a mark on the ashes, which is a sign that she passed by in the night or the morning. The clothing is brought inside and now has the power of healing and protection. Interesting, isn’t it?
Marmot Day – This seems to be a day to celebrate furry critters! Marmots are large squirrel-like animals, similar to groundhogs, woodchucks and ground squirrels. Even though they are found all over the world, from Canada to Mexico and from Russia to India, they don’t seem to get the attention that they deserve. Because of that, in 2002, Marmot Day was set up to celebrate them. It is actually an official holiday in Alaska, and typically involves a family dinner where Marmot jokes and stories are shared (there are Marmot jokes?). In Michigan they have a Marmot Day festival which has all sorts of family activities and a marmot video contest. How fun! We need one of those festivals around here!
Sled Dog Day – Sled dogs have been an important part of human society since the 10th century, and they have a big part of the history of North American and Europe. The Iditarod Sled Dog Race is held annually in Alaska, and covers 1161 miles from Willow, AK to Nome, AK. Teams typically have 16 dogs and they work together with their musher (the guy on the sled). The race has received criticism from people advocating animal welfare, but seriously, those dogs are very well taken care of by their owners and this race holds the spirit of the human-canine partnership in an age-old tradition. During a diphtheria epidemic in 1925 in Nome, AK, the Inuit children were especially susceptible to the disease. The antitoxin was 100s of miles away. Balto, a now famous sled dog, guided his Norwegian musher Gunnar Kaasen on the last leg of the “Great Race of Mercy”, which turned out to be a heroic mission to deliver the life-saving trip to deliver the serum needed by those children. There weren’t any available planes to make that journey from Seward to Nome, and the serum was sent by train the first 298 miles. The last 674 miles of the trip were divided between sled dog teams who ran in relays, with Balto and Kaasen arriving in Nome on February 2nd at 5:30 a.m. Balto and Kaasen may have run the final leg of the journey, but Leonhard Seppala and his lead dog, Togo, covered the longest and most dangerous part of the trip. We celebrate this day to honor the sled dog heroes, both those we know and those we don’t. Sled dogs are usually Alaskan Malamutes, West Greenland Huskies, East Greenland Huskies, Mackenzie River Huskies, and Greenland Dogs, though there is a wide range of dogs used in sled races, from poodles to mixed breeds. (I hope they mean standard poodles!) This celebration of sled dogs is world wide, so let’s use this day to maybe look up some stories about them, and appreciate the sacrifice and dedication that these dogs have had throughout human history, and be happy for the partnership of such committed companions.
Wear Red Day – Heart disease is the #1 killer of women in the United States. It claims more lives than all forms of cancer combined. For more than 10 years, the American Heart Association has sponsored National Wear Red Day® to raise awareness in the fight against heart disease in women. There is a lot more I can add, but to be honest, this one pretty much explains itself. Celebrate National Wear Red Day® with Go Red For Women on Friday, Feb. 5, 2016 to help fight women’s No. 1 killer—heart disease. You can join the movement nationwide and learn how you can honor women by looking up local events that will allow you to participate, raise funds and raise awareness. In the meantime, wear red! It really does mean something.
Working Naked Day – Well, this is it. We’ve now seen a holiday for just about everything. Today says that IF YOU WORK FROM HOME, that you should work naked, be free of the constrictions of clothes all day. Hm . . . interesting. Well, I won’t be participating since I go to the office today and I am hoping nobody else at work catches wind of this and decides to get crazy! Nah, nobody I work with would do that. You are free to do as you choose, but please, no pictures. I just can’t “bare” it! (hahahaha – couldn’t resist).
Food Celebration of the Day –
Crepe Day / Candelmas – I decided that rather than do a sweet crepe in preparation for this celebration, I’d do a savory one so we could have it for dinner. It was quite nice actually! I struggled a bit with the crepes because my spatula is the wrong kind and I kept tearing them up, but over-all I was pleased! And to be able to make them low-carb was a bonus! I got the recipe from www.lowcarbmaven.com for Chicken Florentine Crepes, which were delicious. She has some pretty great recipes that we really enjoy.
Heavenly Hash – This is an AWESOME dish, and I had no idea that this was what the fruit salad we eat at Thanksgiving was called! Many of us have comforting memories of our Grandmothers opening fruit cocktail, draining it, smothering it with whipped cream, adding in some miniature marshmallows and serving it on the holidays. Minus the marshmallows, we have this every year! I made it low carb for us to enjoy last night and honestly, I loved it. I put raspberries, blackberries and blueberries in a bowl, made some whipped cream and stirred them together shaving some nutmeg on top. YUM! Easy, delicious and fun!
Tater Tots – This is an interesting one because while I was looking for the origins of the celebration and perhaps some unusual recipes using tater tots (which of course are self-explanatory to anyone who has enjoyed them forever!). What I found was that this is Tater Tot day because a lot of people tweeted about it and said that it was . . . and that can change. Next year it might be in an entirely different month! Apparently, some computer and numbers junkie somewhere found via some algorithm that this is the day this year, so grab a bag of tater tots and whip out a tater tot casserole for dinner tonight if you aren’t low carb eaters! If you are, just do a search for low-carb tater tots and all sorts of options will come up. I found a recipe that I haven’t tried yet, but want to, to make them out of rutabaga. Hmmmm . . .
It’s time to feed the furbabies and head out. (Pepsi is still wandering around and looking stronger than last week!) Have a fantastic Friday and I’ll do the same. God bless you and I’ll see you tomorrow.