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Beware of Greeks Bearing Red Eggs.

March 28th, 2011 by stephanie

It’s hard to believe that Easter is right around the corner. And though may of us are familiar with colored eggs, few of us these days are familiar with the RED one. It wasn’t until I watched a certain movie that I was even aware of this tradition.
Do you know which one I am referring to? There is one particular scene in My Big Fat Greek Wedding, where the guests are holding up and “klinking”…their red eggs! Do you remember that? Did you even catch it?moldov81
I remember the first time I visited and toured a Greek Orthodox church. It was during the annual Greek Festival in my city and I was amazed at how little I knew of the Eastern Orthodox faith. Saints in those churches are a really big deal and the art in the building and the paintings are simply stunning. But, as usual, once the spiritual portion of the day was complete, I could be seen pushing my way through circles of dancing greeks yelling “opa!” as I made a beeline for homemade baklavah.

But I must admit, I never did catch the very prominent portratit of Mary Magdalene holding the red egg when I finally got in for the tour of the sanctuary.

Apparently, there are multiple versions of the legend:

  • One says that Mary Magdalene was bringing cooked eggs to share with the other women at the tomb of Jesus, and the eggs in her basket miraculously turned brilliant red when she saw the risen Christ.
  • A different tale boasts that after the Ascension of Jesus, Mary went to Italy to share the Gospel and was granted a meeting with Tiberias Caesar. She greeted the Emperor of Rome with “Christ has risen,” whereupon he pointed to an egg on his table and stated, “Christ has no more risen than that egg is red.” After making this statement it is said the egg immediately turned blood red.

Whatever the legend or the case, I have to admit, I had never heard of the Red Egg until a cousin of mine sent me a link about it during Holy Week.

And that, my friend, is the legend of the Red Egg. You’ll never watch that movie that takes place in Chicago about the family that owns Dancing Zorba’s the same — ever again.

Just my thoughts.
S.

For further research, check out wikipedia.

Where does Fish Friday come from?

March 25th, 2011 by stephanie

While in McDonald’s grabbing what I thought would be a quick lunch, I couldn’t help noticing the exhausted police officer standing to my left patiently waiting for his lunch. When the tray finally slid out, there were two Filet of Fish sandwiches and the usual combo that goes with them. Fries and drink.
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It reminded me of an article I came across and never forgot. Apparently, the Filet o Fish sandwich from McDonald’s was a result of a religious tradition. I’d been flipping through TIME magazine when my eyes fell on a time line showing the menu transformation of the fast food chain over the years. It was the 1960’s section that caught my attention most.

The general public these days may not remember that those of the Catholic faith (and other similar denominations) don’t just give up something for Lent. They used to strongly adhere to the eating of only fish on Fridays as well. On that day of the week they abstained from other meat. They fasted it, in a way. During the day, their focus was apparently to focus on “giving up”. Sacrificing. In honor, of sorts, for what Christ did for them via His sacrifice on the cross.

That tradition of the faith was such a part of Western culture, that Fish Fridays became a common option on most, if not all, menus of eateries.

But back to McDonald’s. A man by the name of Louis Groen, of Cincinnati, Ohio, owned a Mickie D’s (vernacular for McDonald’s) franchise. One day, he contacted corporate headquarters with a concern. He told them that he needed help if he was going to keep his Catholic customers–who wouldn’t eat meat on Friday. He was well aware that Catholics, for centuries, only ate Fish on Fridays, and that tradition was affecting his sales.

The answer to his dilemma? The creation of the Filet-O-Fish sandwich in 1962.

And so, now you know.

Knowing that we’re in the midst of Lent, perhaps you have given up something, not just on Fridays, but during this 40-day fasting period. But for today, it’s all about the fish factor. Something for your water cooler chats this week. I, personally, will be enjoying Sushi with friends this evening. You?

Just my thoughts.

S.

Those Buns with the Cross that were Outlawed…

March 21st, 2011 by stephanie

If you’re a musician, have been a music student, or had music classes in school, you may remember humming or singing, “Hot Cross Buns, Hot Cross Buns…” or better yet, you were doing the number system as you sang, “3,2,1….3,2,1” (the numbers used instead of the notes!)

But for some of you, I bet, your mind went right to the food option. Yep. Sticky gooey Hot Cross Buns! It’s Eastertime folks! Bring on the food!

Believe it or not, Resurrection Season has begun. Mardi Gras is past (the night of feasting and frantic festivity), along with Ash Wednesday (the day to repent for what you did on Tuesday) and Lent is in full swing.

But back to the food. In case you didn’t know, Easter, as with any other holiday, has its own special culinary delectables. At Easter you have Lamb (symbolic of the Lamb of God, Jesus, who was sacrificed for our sins), and then there are those yummy, historic, hot cross buns!

But do you know the scoop on the buns?

Apparently, they’ve been documented as early as 40 years after Christ’s death. When archaeolgists excavated the ancient city of Herculaneum (Southwest Italy) which had been buried under volcanic ask and lava since 79 A.D., they found two small loaves, each with a cross on it, among the ruins.

In England, hot cross buns are served at breakfast on Good Friday morning. They’re small, usually spiced buns, marked with a white sugary cross on top. For a long time English bakers, by law, were only allowed to bake and sell the buns at burials, on Good Friday, or at Christmas. There was actually a decree issued in 1592 (Elizabeth I) that shows the exact ruling.

It’s hard for those of us in Western cultures to imagine, that religion and faith used to be so much a part of people’s everyday lives. To think that there were laws actually created that dictated the protection of remembering Christ via a bun!? But alas, ’tis true.

With that, why not build some Hot Cross Buns into your upcoming Easter plans. If anything, to relive the tradition, and to spread the good news. That Christ be remembered, no matter how creative the method, is always a good thing.

Just my thoughts.

S.

Spring Is In The Air.

March 18th, 2011 by stephanie

“Spring is here…” Those were the opening words from one of the tunes I used to sing back in the day. That “Day” was when I was the front girl for a 17-piece stage band. I loved my days with “the boys”. Those guys were incredible musicians, and I was honored to be a part. More than that, I simply love jazz. That genre of music to me, Smooth Jazz, actually, is like a fresh spring breeze.

Though our friends in the Northern Regions may not be “feeling” Spring just quite yet, believe it or not, the season of flowers begins Sunday, March 20 to be exact.

Spring really only lasts about two months for us – March through May. During that short time, it gives us Easter, Passover, May Day and Mother’s Day.

If you live in, or travel to, our southern states here in the U.S., one of the famous sites during this time is that of the blooming Dogwoods. If you aren’t familiar with the flower that this tree produces, it’s quite fascinating. Interestingly, as well, is the legend of the Dogwood. As the story goes, Jesus was crucified on a cross made of it’s wood. To remember his death, the flowers speak to that story. If you have ever seen the blooms you’ll notice that the flower’s four petals are cross-shaped (representing the four corners of the cross) and each bears a rusty indentation like that of a nail. In addition, the red stamens of the flower represent Jesus’ crown of thorns and the clustered red fruit represents his blood.

And there you have it. More conversation fodder for that next trip to the water cooler or board meeting or coffee chat.

Happy Spring!

Stephanie

“Remember, we were orange…”

March 13th, 2011 by stephanie

Are you Green or Orange this St. Patty’s Day?

When we see or think of St. Patrick’s Day, we think green. We wear green. We eat green things. Perhaps that’s due, in large part, to the fact that Green was the color of the Flag for Irish Catholics. But did you know that Orange was the color of the Protestant flag? It’s true. I learned that little tid bit from my grandfather. “We were orange,” he used to say. “And we came from County Cork.”

My grandfather would remind me about that history, without fail, each and every St. Patrick’s Day. He wasn’t trying to make a point, he was just proud that he knew something about our heritage and he was pleased to pass that knowledge along to me.

But the tidbit of info in regards to the original St. Pat is what I love to remember each year as well. Did you know that Saint Patrick was not a Leprechaun who danced in clover? He was an actual son of wealthy British parents that lived in the 4th century. Here’s the scoop.

At the age of 16, Patrick was taken prisoner by Irish raiders who attacked his family’s estate. The bandits took the lad to the Island of Ireland where he spent his captivity working as a shepherd, outdoors and away from people. It was during this frightening time of isolation that he discovered Christ and developed a strong faith. Legend has it that he began to have dreams of winning the Irish to Christianity. Now, that’s what I call a heart for ministry!

After more than six years as a prisoner, Patrick made a run for it – and escaped. Believe it or not, there are actual writings of his that survived and exist to this day. He wrote of a voice, which he believed to be God’s. It spoke to him in a dream, telling him it was time to leave Ireland. And, boy did he.

Patrick walked nearly 200 miles from County Mayo to the Irish coast. After escaping to Britain, he recorded a second vision. This time, it was an angel in a dream, that told him to return to Ireland as a missionary! And you know what? He did just that. But much later.

Patrick first threw himself into studying his new faith. 15 years later, he became an ordained priest and was commissioned to Ireland. His mission? To minister to Christians already living in Ireland and to begin to convert the Irish.

And there you have it. When you hit that board meeting, coffee chat or water cooler today, hopfully you’ll have something new on which to dish. Perhaps your listeners will be “green” with envy. Who knows. 🙂

Here’s to St. Pat and his green, here’s to those of us that are Orange and here’s to my grandfather…who loved to remember.

Just my thoughts,

S.

“Hey, you’ve got something on your forehead.”

March 9th, 2011 by stephanie

I will never forget one particular day while routinely tuning in the evening news, I caught a glimpse of a U.S. Senator who was being interviewed. What wasn’t routine was the black smudge on his forehead that I kept inadvertently trying to wipe off my TV screen. Then it hit me: Today is Ash Wednesday.

In case today catches you a bit by surprise, perhaps this bit of information will spare you an awkward moment with that colleague or person on the street that you might encounter.
Tip: Today is Ash Wednedsay.
People go to church, and the priest makes the sign of the cross on their forehead–with ashes.

For those of you still feeling a little left out, here are some talking points for you on the significance and traditions of this day:

– The Ashes are made from burned palm fronds (leftovers from last year’s Palm Sunday).
– Today is the first day of Lent.
– It is also known as Day of Ashes: dies cinerum (day of ashes) in the Roman Missal.
– It is the Wednesday after Quinquagesima Sunday (Basically, 50 days before Easter!)
– Ash Wednesday is 40 days before Good Friday.
– Ash Wednesday is not a holy day of obligation.
– It is the day after Shrove Tuesday (Mardi Gras).

SO, here’s the deal. In the Bible, Ashes signify mourning. When in angst, people would tear their clothes and put ashes on their head (i.e.:1 Samuel 4:12, Esther 4:1).

Ashes also symbolize how the sinner feels when he stands before and acknowledges the all-just God.

And too, there is a verse in the book of Genesis that reminds us of the shortness of our lives,
”Remember, man, that thou art dust, and unto dust thou shalt return.” (think “ashes to ashes dust to dust”)

So there you have it. Ash Wednesday brings to remembrance these things:
1. You and I are sinners (saved by the action of Christ on the cross).
2. God is all powerful, just, and holy (we are not).
3. Life is short. Make the most of it (not only physically and mentally, but spiritually, too).

The next 40 days of Lent were created to give you time to ponder these very things and other points of life.

But most importantly, if you see folks today with a dark smudge on their foreheads (in the shape of a cross), you will at least now hopefully not walk up to them and say, “Hey, you have something on your forehead.”

Just my thoughts,
S.

Pancake Day is Coming!

March 7th, 2011 by stephanie

Are you one of the few people who know that there really is a Pancake Day? Maybe too, you’re one of those that is looking forward to eating King Cake this week. Meanwhile, others of you are worrying about what you’ll give up for Lent.

There’s quite a bit of festivity going on during the month of March this year. And, as you may or may not know, The Church (mostly high church in nature) has it’s very own calendar and holiday seasons. Days, even weeks, feasts and more are carefully organized, spelled out and planned.
For instance:
This Tuesday will be SHROVE TUESDAY or FAT TUESDAY
You may recognize it more as MARDI GRAS
This Wednesday will be ASH WEDNESDAY:
And then, the Season of Lent begins.

In case you didn’t know, all this hub bub used to be part of folks daily lives. And this particular season of festivities were preparation toward the remembrance of Christ’s death, burial and resurrection.

Lent ends in the massive celebration, known as EASTER (the day Christ rose from the grave.)

Now, in all honesty, you won’t find any of the above “celebrations” or “traditions” (or any of their specific names or days) in the Bible, but that’s for another blog. They’ve become part of our culture, and as we do tend to forget history, I thought I’d remind you of their origins.

And so, now you know. If anything, you’ll sound smart at that next meeting, dining experience or church service. Or, if you’re clever, perhaps you’ll ask for some time away from work for that “religious holiday” or two. Well, maybe not.
If you’re Agnostic, or an Athiest, it’d be tricky to pull off.
🙂
Just my thoughts,
S.

Just my thoughts,

Do You Find it Hard to Lose?

March 4th, 2011 by stephanie

Loss is not something I handle well. Recently, I lost a person. Not through death. They just disappeared from my life. Without a trace. At times like that, it’s easy to question God. At least I do. Interestingly, the message that kept coming my way during that frustrating time was, Don’t try to open a closed door. Just leave it alone. That was hard. I didn’t want to hear that. So, I argued with God, and questioned, and argued some more. Needless to say, the door did not re-open. And, I guess it never will. There was a verse that kept coming to my mind during that time as well. it is found in Isaiah, chapter 43 and is verse 18. It goes like this:
Do not call to mind the former things,
Or ponder things of the past. (NAS)

a more modern translation says it like this:

Forget about what’s happened;
don’t keep going over old history. (The Message)

If we’re honest, most of us would admit that we struggle to let go and move on. Perhaps it’s a grudge or a personal grievance that we feel quite justified in holding onto. Whatever the case, there’s one piece of advice we can all agree on that we need to not only hear, but adhere. It’s quite simple: KEEP MOVING. In the end, we’ll be glad we did.

Just my thoughts,
S.

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