After how many celebrations there were yesterday, I decided to get a head start on today’s! So, here I sit, with a hot cup of tea, a fire going, a cat asleep on one foot and the other within arms reach to pet, the dog asleep across the room, and hubby reading in his chair – we are the picture of contentment and comfort. Yesterday was a good day, and I know today will be as well. Across the country people who are football fans, and some who aren’t, are preparing for the big game. Here in our area there’s a special excitement since the Seahawks are playing. I have healthy treats – they’ll be tasty, but healthy too – and am prepared to attempt, yet again, to understand what is going on. I pretty much know when it’s a good thing to cheer about, and when it’s not. I’ve avoided watching the commercials that they keep showing ahead of time since, quite honestly, they are my favorite part of it all, and during half time we’ll watch The Puppy Bowl! Gotta love all those cute little puppies and kitties! GO HAWKS!!!
Candlemas – On the Modern calendar – February 2nd; On the Julian calendar – February 15th I admit it, I don’t that much about Catholic festivities, so I didn’t know about this one. I’d heard the name, but didn’t know what it was . . . til now. Today we have 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. Throughout this 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.
Crepe Day – 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.
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
Dump Your Significant Jerk Day – This is a GREAT day for those of you who are dating a complete jerk, and are tired of it. If he/she is not improving, or you think you can change him/her over time . . . stop that line of thought. People who are jerks while they are dating are going to be absolute monsters if you marry them, which will lead to a very miserable life. TRUST me on that one! Been there/done that. It is so easy to get stuck in a relationship which isn’t working because it’s scary to contemplate being alone, but it is still better than ending up with a jerk. Take action today and Dump Your Significant Jerk Day and love yourself enough to find someone who treats you better, who is nicer and less jerky.
Groundhog Day – The French may have their Crepe Day, but WE have Groundhog Day! On this day in mid-winter, the groundhog wakes up from his long, winter nap and goes outside to see if he can see his shadow. This tradition is a big one, it seems especially on the east coast. THIS year they are especially excited to see a quick end to winter (though we on the west coast really haven’t had the benefit of any winter this year – insert my sad, I wish it would snow face here) and are hoping that the trusty Groundhog does not see his shadow. You see, according to the legend, if the groundhog sees his shadow (on a sunny morning), there will be six more weeks of winter. If he plays around for awhile, but does not see his shadow (on a cloudy day), then spring is just around the corner. This tradition travelled all the way from Germany with German immigrants. As they settled in the hills of Pennsylvania, they began the tradition of using the Groundhog to predict the arrival of Spring. This tradition comes from Candlemas, sort of like Crepe Day does! By the way, Punxsutawny, PA is the site of the annual Groundhog event, and the Groundhogs name is Punxsutawny Phil. There are a few other Groundhog weather-rodents around the country, but Phil is the most famous.
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.
Food Celebration of the Day –
National Groundhog Day – Groundhogs aren’t the only animals that “predict” weather — some believe bears and badgers can forecast the seasons, too. Celebrate with fun critter-themed treats!
Wormy Dirt Cake
Deviled Egg Chicks
Chocolate-Covered Cherry Mice
Chocolate Peanut Butter Frogs
Well, shoot. I started early and am still posting late. Oh well. It’s nearly time to start getting Super Bowl food ready! I bet you’re doing the same! Enjoy your Sunday and may the Seahawks win! God Bless You and I’ll see you tomorrow!