National Tell a Fairy Tale Day!

Did you know that some countries celebrate Fairy Tales today. No? Me neither. I am probably one of the minority who really don’t like fairy tales.

I always found them sinister and really frightening.  I could never get away from the evil images. Nightmares usually ensued after reading a fairy tale. My son was deprived of many fairy tales as it was his father who read them to him and not me.

Give me Winnie the Pooh any day or Peter Rabbit but there is no room for fairy tales on my shelf.  I do have one exception…..Tinkerbelle.

Our Female Patron Saint

Today is Saint Brigid’s Day, February 1st, one of the four patron saints of Ireland.  This day is known as Lá Fhéile Bríde.

February 1st is also the day of the Celtic Feast Imbolc.  It was also associated with the Celtic Goddess Bridget.  Many of the Celtic feast days were adopted by the early Christians.

Traditionally on the eve of St. Brigid’s Day a cross would be made.  It was said that Brigid was converting a dying pagan to Christianity and in order to explain the faith to him she needed a cross.  The only thing to hand were some rushes which she made into a cross. and then proceeded to explain certain aspects of Christian faith to the man.

 

St. Brigid’s Crosses were traditionally given to neighbours and friends as gifts.  If a St. Brigid’s Cross was placed above the door it meant that everyone was welcome.  It was also thought to protect the home.

Brigid had been a milkmaid prior to becoming a nun.  It was said that she could get more milk from a cow than anyone else.  She used travel the country as a nun converting the Irish to Christianity accompanied by a white cow with red ears.

A piece of white ribbon was left outside for the saint to bless.  This was then kept near the hall door for the rest of the year.  It was also the day when food was given to those who didn’t have any.

The special meal on the day always had pancakes to signify the dairy link to St. Brigid. These pancakes however were served with butter or fresh cream as opposed to the tradition of lemon and sugar on Pancake Tuesday.

In case St. Brigid on her travels calls to your door it is traditional to leave bread and butter on the window sill and some corn for the cow.

Lá Fhéile Bríde shona dhuit. Happy St. Brigid’s Day.

 

 

Traditions

During the last few weeks I have been hearing about Christmas traditions. I have been hearing about how baking is an integral part of the Christmas period. That decorating the tree is a special night. That getting that first Christmas card heralds the start of Christmas for others. The Christmas Movie is a night for chilling. The Christmas music is separate to Christmas carols. The Christmas poems. The Advent calendar and essential part of the Christmas. Visiting the crib in churches. Putting up the family crib.

The thing which has struck me is how diverse the traditions are yet there is a link. Practically each household has a different emphasis for each of the traditions. Each household is unique in this regard.

What I have learnt is that each household whether there is one person or twenty people living there have over the years absorbed traditions which suits that household and those traditions have developed. Some traditions have remained while others have been dropped for whatever reason.

Dropping a tradition can be hard especially if it is out of your control. However, it is amazing how quickly one can adapt to what is in essence a new tradition. Also adding in a new tradition can enhance the traditions of the household. Being open to new traditions and gradually absorbing them can re invigorate the meaning of Christmas.

Christmas is a unique experience for each individual. No one tradition is more important than another but the meaning of a tradition can be very personal and last for a long number of years.

 

Bliss with a Twist

One of life’s pleasures is curling up with a good book to the sound of rain beating against the window pane. Bliss.

Now there are a certain few tweeks to make this pleasure absolute bliss.  Firstly the coffee it has to be a blend which you enjoy, this is definitely not the time for “it will do” blend.  Secondly the mug.  It has to be big enough to hold a warming amount of coffee but not too big that the mug itself is hard to lift.  Thirdly one has to be comfy. Perhaps a quilt to throw aIMAG1015[1]round the shoulders or over the knees.  Perhaps a throw or perhaps that old warm roomy jumper that has survived so many mishaps.

 

 

Of course the most important choice is that of a book.  This is the time for the latest book by a favourite author.  Perhaps this is the time for renewing the warmth one feels from a favoutite book read so many times that the cover has that well thumbed look.

Easter Monday dawned to the sound of rain battering the windows.  Grey skys enveloped the area cutting the house off to the rest of the world.  Small streams were already forming as yet again another year had passed and the drains had not been cleared.  Rain dripped from the forlorn looking trees.

I went through my mental list. Dinner?  Left overs from Easter Sunday Lunch. Snacks? Leftovers from Easter Sunday and Easter Eggs.  Kitchen? Spick and span.  Oh yes, mental list checked off.  This day had all the makings for an uninterupted reading day.  Sheer Bliss.

I found myself in my favourite chair, my quilt folded beside me, in my comfy clothes and footrest in place.  Not knowing quite what book I wanted to read I had a selection.  Ruth dudley Edwards “Matricide at St. Martha’s”, Donna Leon’s “Earthly Remains“, Noel Dorr’s “Ireland at the United Nations” and Daisy Thurbin’s “The Radziwll Leagacy“.

A tray beside me held toasted hot cross buns my husband had made, a sliced apple and a pot of tea being kept warm with a tea cosy.  Beside it sat a small china mug with images of the London Olympics bringing back happy memories.

Yes I was all set.  Still there was something amiss.  I couldn’t put my finger on it.   Something just wasn’t quite right.  What was preveinting me from settling into one of my favourite pastimes.  Standing up and looking at the space I had made for my reading day it took a while for the incongruity to emerge.

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I sat down a little stunned. I was reading with a pot of tea!! For those of you who may not know me I am a coffee holic.  I love coffee and it hurts when I purchase or make a bad cup of coffee.  Realisation slowly dawned upon me that since I had had a massive allergy attack I had not sipped a drop of coffee.coffee.

Yikes. Nóilín minus a mug of coffee?  What a weird notion.  But it was no longer a notion it was a reality.  During the previous thirteen days I had not had a drop of coffee but what was really weird was that I had not missed it.  Nursing a cup of tea I pondered this new situation but the call of a book soon interupted these musings.

It wasn’t long before Ruth Dudley Eadwards had me laughing at the antics of the heroine and the question of why my body was rejecting coffee for tea was soon forgotten.  The rain continued unabated while I read and savoured being warm, having books to read while listening to music of the rain on the window.

It certainly was absolute bliss but with a new twist.

Generations

I was sent a short video to mark International  Women’s Day and it showed three young women who basically blamed all their ills on the previous generation. It was brilliantly put together and very funny.

However it set me thinking. Was this the way, that women who gave up paid employment in order to look after their family full-time were in fact being judged?

Since becoming one of those women back in the 1990’s, I found that society but to a greater extent working women saw me as something to be derided, belittled or totally ignored. I was told that “I was a pariah on society, taking without giving” .

I have been privileged to have met so many women mainly in the 50 plus age limit who are strong women. These women cared for elderly relatives, reared children, were and some still are active in their churches, started voluntary bodies which have since been taken over by state bodies, supported schools and worked unpaid for all their adult lives.

They have enabled others to have choices and they are still supporting their families with many of them taking on the childminding roles for the next generation. Some are finding  a new source of education through the next generation.

I was talking with a seventy year old lady recently. Dympna was inspired by a young twenty year old woman who communicated, read, interacted all through her mobile phone. Dympna now uses her mobile for everything from emails, to bill paying to basic phone calls. In turn she is now teaching it.

I am firmly of the opinion that there is so much to learn from every generation. No one generation is better than another but just think what can be done when the minds of different generations come together with respect.

 

 

 

 

Mother’s Day

Today I really noticed that Mother’s Day cards were abounding.  Ads for what to get “your Mother” are everywhere to be seen.

Mother’s Day is such a complex day.  Ok, on the surface it celebrates the roles of mothers with cards perhaps lovingly made in schools and a handmade present.  Perhaps the Dad or another relative has reminded the teenage child that a card is essential.  Perhaps they all cook a meal and celebrate the day together.

Perhaps for some women who have never experienced the privilege of motherhood, Mother’s Day is a day for curling up underneath the duvet and indulging in chocolates while allowing the tears to flow freely for those hopes and dreams which were never to be.

Perhaps Mother’s Day is another reminder of the child who is missing.  The hopes for the future again unanswered.  Perhaps a child has distanced himself, mentally/ physically or both.

Perhaps for the mother whose child has died, Mother’s Day is a public reminder of  the void that can never be filled in her heart.

Perhaps Mother’s day  is a reminder to a mother, that because of illness she is no longer able to be a mother and sometimes her child has to be her carer.

Perhaps the mother doesn’t recognise their child as a result of illness.  The laughs which would have been shared can never be shared as the mother retreats from the world.

Perhaps Mother’s Day is a reminder to a child, even an adult child, that the mother who should have nurtured, cared for and protected never existed  for that child.

On the morning of Mother’s Day, I always raise a cup to those mothers who are suffering that little bit more because of the day that is in it.

Perhaps we as women could go a little farther this year? Perhaps we could send a card, ring or call to a mother who is hurting on this year’s Mother’s Day.