Image from our Organic Kitchen Garden 2016 wall calendar. Microgreens © Lynn Karlin Photography. Click image for more info.
The Thursday before Easter (March 24 this year) goes by several names. It’s known in England as Maundy Thursday, after the start of the reading for that day: “Mandatum novum do vobis (I give you a new commandment).” These are the words Jesus said to his disciples at the Last Supper (which was a Passover feast) while he was washing their feet.
In Trapani, Italy, people visit churches to see the lavureddi, sepulchres of green. Tiered altars are set up and covered with linen. Upon these are placed pots of wheat and lentils, grown in darkness so they develop straw-colored sprouts. These are said to represent new life growing in the darkness and to foreshadow Christ’s resurrection from the tomb. Continue reading
Image from our Celtic Blessings 2016 wall calendar featuring artwork by Michael J. Green. Click image for more info.
The equinoxes are the balance points of the year, the two moments in the circle when we have roughly equal amounts of light and dark, night and day. Both holidays feature a feast of seasonal foods, perhaps not surprising when you consider that the plants are responding to the changes in light, just as we are.
The Spring Equinox feast is celebrated under many names: Passover, Easter, St. Joseph’s Day, and Naw-Ruz. But whatever its name, it typically features the first bitter greens of spring, a newly born lamb (perhaps), fresh eggs, and items made from the fresh butter and cream available as cows, goats, and sheep produce milk for their young. Continue reading
From our Garden Sanctuary 2015 wall calendar — Summerhouse design by William Woodhouse, Photography © MMGI / Marianne Majerus
When writing about holidays, I’m always looking for patterns, for common elements that bridge cultures and religions. And one of the interesting customs that appears over and over again at this particular moment in spring is a holiday that encourages people to spend the day outdoors.
In the Persian trio of holidays I described in an earlier post, this holiday is called the Sizdeh Bedar (Thirteenth Outside). This year it falls on April 1. People spend the day outside, enjoying picnic foods, singing, and dancing. The sprouted greens (sabzeh) that decorate the Naw-Ruz table are taken out and thrown on the ground or in a river or lake, which carries away any ills that might infect the household during the year. Continue reading
“The Holy Land is everywhere.” — Leon Picardy
Image by Art Wolfe from the Earth Is My Witness 2015 wall calendar.
Palm Sunday takes its name from the Gospel account of Christ’s triumphant entry into Jerusalem—a week before his arrest, crucifixion, and resurrection—when adoring crowds laid palm fronds in his path. It became customary to reenact this procession prior to Mass on the Sunday before Easter.
The palm fronds used are often blessed and carried home to be hung above doorways or tucked behind holy pictures until the following year. On Ash Wednesday, the old palms are burned and the ashes used to mark foreheads as an emblem of mortality and humility, a fitting symbol of the turning of the annual cycle from triumph and glory to death and decay. Continue reading
Flowers 2015 wall calender featuring photographs by Christopher Gruver
Few of my friends understand my affection for Lent (those 40 days of deprivation observed by Catholics and many Christian denominations between Ash Wednesday and Easter), but I tell them I appreciate Lent because it’s a seasonal holiday. The word “Lent” itself comes from the same root word as “lengthen” and refers to the hours of daylight that grow longer during the season of spring. Lent is a time of rapid, visible, and dramatic growth in the natural world: “the force,” as Dylan Thomas puts it, “that through the green fuse drives the flower.” So why not ally with this powerful force and use its energy to make changes in your life? Continue reading