Celebrating the Feast of the Annunciation

Yesterday was March 25th known to many as the Feast of the Annunciation.  It falls 9 months before Christmas because it is the celebration of  the Angel Gabriel coming to tell Mary that she will give birth to the Son of God.

 

The feast of the annunciation
My daughter came up with this display all on her own, I was impressed.

 

It is a holiday celebrated most famously in Sweden with waffles and in other countries with circular cakes (like bunt cakes) to symbolize eternity or seed cakes (like poppy seed) to represent new life.  It is a festive day and when it falls in the middle of Lent it can feel a bit jarring. Here we have been meditating on death and repentance and are suddenly thrust into a something that feels more like a baby shower.

The feast of the annunciation
I wish I would have stopped to take a picture of the 13 kids eating cake in the back yard.

 

There are some things  which can’t be taught in books, they must be lived to be known.  One of the gifts of the liturgical calendar, is that through its various seasons and holidays it teaches us to experience life in the light of our faith in Christ.

 

This year I had several friends who faced the death of a loved one right at Christmas time.  They had no choice but to grieve and celebrate in the same breath. These sorts of emotional juxtapositions always be gut retchingly difficult. Yet living year by year through the liturgical seasons we are offered a foretaste of the multi-dimensional nature of our emotional life.  In following the seasons we are encouraged to explore the depths of our own souls in both joy and sorrow, to bring our hearts before God, and to align ourselves with the life of the church. When triumph is followed by disaster we have a sense of the path to take, we have walked it and we know where to fix our eyes. In the darkness of the tomb we wait for the light of resurrection.

The feast of the annunciation
Check out this cake.

 

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So happy Feast of the Annunciation to you and I pray that the remainder of lent is a beautiful time of reflection as we anticipate the celebration of Easter that is to come.

 

For more on the liturgical year, check out this book.

For more from Liturgy of Life you can subscribe to get monthly emails, like me on facebook, or join our facebook discussion group. Thanks for reading friends I look forward to connecting with you.

 

 

 

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How to throw an Epiphany Party in Four Easy steps.

How to throw an Epiphany Party in Four Easy steps.

I’ve been wanting to do something to celebrate the end of the Christmas season for a few years now and this time we finally pulled it off.  There are a few different approaches you can take for having a party this time of year.  First off you can have a 12th night party which is on (you guessed it!) the twelfth night of Christmas.

You can also do an Epiphany party which is technically the day after the 12th night of Christmas but it seems reasonable to celebrate it any time between the 12th night and the following Sunday. Epiphany in the church is a celebration of Christ’s first revelation to the gentiles in the form of the star appearing to the Three Wise Men.

And then on the off chance that you have some connection with Eastern Europe where they still use the Julian Calendar you can also celebrate what we referred to in my childhood as “Greek Christmas” which is on January 7th as far as I can tell. For our party we didn’t really specify but here are the things we did.

First we did not do dinner.  Let’s face it, a dinner party is a lot of work and a lot of expense. After Christmas we just weren’t up for it. Instead we made a King’s cake. Which is typically a sort of sweet yeast bread rolled with cream cheese filling. I was out of cream cheese and didn’t have time to wait for a cake to rise so I made a simple cinnamon swirl bunt cake and though I didn’t try it everyone said it was good and there were no leftovers.

Don’t forget to hide a baby in the cake! This was a tradition familiar to us after spending many winters in Mexico (did you know that kids in Mexico often get more gifts from The Three Kings on Kings Day than from Santa on Christmas?).  Whoever gets the baby is supposed to make the tamales for the next feast but we didn’t hold anyone to it. A more modern tradition is to hide three babies (you can substitute a large bean, or use a fig like I did, the little plastic babies are hard to find, I know it sounds super weird) and whoever gets a bean gets to wear a crown, one for each king.

Second make Wassail, a hot mulled cider which is the traditional drink for this time of year. We had Brandy to add to ours and then hot chocolate, not to add, just for another option.

Third  make Magi crowns.  I found the most basic crown pattern on the internet, print it, cut it out (two at a time, it went fast) stapled two together, spray painted them gold and voila. I picked up some jewel stickers at the dollar store and the kids used them to decorate their crowns. This was a great souvenir, kept the kids surprisingly engaged, and no one got injured with the stapler.

How to throw an Epiphany Party in Four Easy steps.

Fourth make Magi gifts.  We sent the kids home with three versions of DIY Play-dough mixed with glitter for gold and the others fragranced with frankincense and myrrh essential oils (actually I didn’t have mhyrr so I used Ylang-Ylang and Lavender, no one knew the difference).

How to throw an Epiphany Party in Four Easy steps.

One more add on which was an unexpected treat that my husband whipped up was a lively family sing along of the first verse of “Here we go a-wassailing” which apparently is a song about poor folks going door to door drinking warm beer, and the “12 Days of Christmas” which was a hit with the kids.

Life has been hard for many of my friends and family this holiday season.  And for some who have had a recent loss Christmas felt like a very low place.  Gathering for ongoing celebrations is an important part of living and grieving  and healing together. This party took us about half a day’s work to pull together and the memories of time spent together finding babies in cakes is totally worth it. So here is to the 12th Night and Epiphany and Greek Christmas and hoping that in 2017 we will always be able to find something to celebrate.

For more from Liturgy of Life you can subscribe here for monthly emails, like me on facebook, or join our facebook discussion group. Thanks for reading friends I look forward to connecting with you.

Lent and the Preschooler

Our family has been moving fast these last few weeks and I have to confess it feels very unlenten.  Thankfully we are reading Let Us Keep the Feast, in the Liturgy of Life Reading Group which has given me a few ideas of how to adapt the traditional celebrations to my current situation which is trying to mother a preschooler in the midst of a chaotic schedule.

I’ve attempted two simple activities and so far have been fairly successful.

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1. Lent Paper Chain

This took all of 15 minutes to assemble. I cut paper into strips, one for each day of lent (46 strips) and in the color of purple which is the traditional color of lent.  Together we thought of different people to pray for and wrote a name on each strip and then made them into a chain. Each day my daughter tears off one piece of paper. It helps her to mark the days of lent and gives us someone special to pray for each day.

 

2. Bowl of Beans.

This took all of 10 seconds to assemble. I got this idea from my friend Shannon (check out her lent post for some more great ideas). I took a bowl and placed it on a plate and then dumped a bag of black eyed peas on the plate (you could use whatever you have in the pantry). Whenever we think of something we are grateful for we say it out loud and then put a bean in the bowl. It is a simple way to keep our minds focused on gratitude.  Then on Easter morning all the beans will magically transform into Jelly Beans. Exciting right?

 

I’d love to hear how are you keeping your family finding ways to celebrate the season of lent?

 

Thanks for being here.

Erica

 

This post is part of a series from the Liturgy of Life Reading Group we are currently reading, Let us Keep the Feast. I would love to hear from you. If you blog feel free to link up with us every Wednesday and share your thoughts on our latest book. You can also Like Liturgy of Life on facebook, join our facebook discussion group or subscribe for a weekly update and special emails.

 

 

 


Vegetable Stock and Easing Into Lent

Vegetable Stock Recipe and Lent, a Look at Liturgical living. Liturgy of Life.

We haven’t stopped running since before Christmas and it is already a scorching  90 degrees in the Rio Grande Valley.  The fact that we are a week into Lent seems impossible, I’m not getting any cues from my life my world that say, “it is time to slow down,” and making space for quiet meditation is the last thing I have time for.

But I suppose this is part of why we have Liturgical seasons. I may never stop hurrying and the seasons in south Texas may always feel out of sync with the rest of the country. Maybe a few times a year I need to be told to how feel because otherwise I would  continue to race tripping over my own numb legs.

 

This week in the Liturgy of Life Reading group we read a chapter about Lent, in Let us Keep the Feast.  This book offers a refreshing look at the ancient traditions  that we have in the Liturgical seasons and is helpful whether this is all new to you or if you have been doing it your whole life.

 

Lent also echoes the larger truth of the Christian life: that there are times when we will experience hardship and suffering, spiritual winters, and extended darkness. It enlivens us to the harder realities of lifelong faithfulness- that there will be times of absence, doubt, unfulfilled hunger, and unmet spiritual longing- and trains us to follow Christ in times of darkness.

In giving ourselves to a season of less, we learn that our personal comforts have little to do with greater love of Christ. We, like most of God’s creatures, are seasonal and should know that some seasons are harsher than others. There are different lessons to be learned, different habits to be employed in winter than in summer. This is as true in our spiritual lives as in  our gardens or the forests. Lent serves as a time to employ disciplines of self-denial and grow strong in them, rather than weakening ourselves in our constant pursuit of ease and joy. Lent assures us that joy will come later, and it will surely come.

 

One of the most common Lenten practices is a fast. For me growing up this meant giving up rich foods like meats.   So I thought  we would kicked off Lent this year by making a big pot of vegetable stock.  Here ya go.

 

I roughly followed this recipe. But made some changes based on what I had and the quantity I wanted to make.

Vegetable Stock:

Vegetable Stock Recipe and Lent, a Look at Liturgical living. Liturgy of Life.

Ingredients:

These proportions are for 4 quarts of water, but can easily be increased or decreased

Vegetables: 2 Onions (skin on), 10 stalks of celery, 2 carrots (always peeled), 1 head of garlic (skin on),  and 6 parsley sprigs are a must. Then consider mushrooms, fennel bulb and others you may like. All washed and cut into halves.

Seasoning: 1 teaspoon salt, 1 teaspoon pepper, one bay leaf and then other herbs which you enjoy.

2 Tablespoons of olive oil or your favorite.

Directions:

  1. Heat oil in a large stock pot and add onions, saute until softened, a few minutes and then add other vegetables. Saute another few minutes.
  2. Add water and bring to a boil. Then simmer for about 2 hours.
  3. Strain and discard vegetables.
  4. Let liquid cool and store in the fridge for 3 days or in the freezer for 3 months. You can also transfer into a pressure canner while still hot and follow the directions to can it and store it in the pantry.

Enjoy as a base for soups and stews during Lent and throughout the year.

 

 

This post is part of a series from the Liturgy of Life Reading Group we are currently reading, Let us Keep the Feast. I would love to hear from you. If you blog feel free to link up with us every Wednesday and share your thoughts on our latest book. You can also Like Liturgy of Life on facebook, join our facebook discussion group  or subscribe for a weekly update and special emails.

 

Thanks for being here.

Erica