Now We Go Round The Maypole High

Now we go round the Maypole high, Maypole high, Maypole high

Now we go round the Maypole high,

Let colored ribbons fly.

See lasses and lads go tripping by,

Tripping by, tripping by,

See lasses and lads go tripping by

Let colored ribbons fly

Tonight we are celebrating the third Sunday in Eastertide, and the delight of  May Day is upon us tomorrow!

There are so many beautiful traditions associated with May Day, and it is sure to be a festival your family will enjoy.  Festivals involve the outer doing for children.  In this case, we could:

  • Have a  real Maypole and a Maypole dance.  Some traditional songs include “Now We Go Round the Maypole High” and “May Song”  (Which begins:  “Here’s a branch of snowy may, a branch the fairies gave me/Who would like to dance today with the branch the fairies gave me?”)
  • Make simple ribbon and bell anklets for the girls to wear in dancing the Maypole, and flower crowns
  • Make Mayday baskets of little paper cones with flowers in them for your neighbors or community helpers.  Alternatively, you could press flowers and make little May Day  cards.
  • Tell stories!  Possibilities include, “The Piper Who Knew But One Tune,” found in the book, “Celebrating Irish Festivals,” by Ruth Marshall or “Little Grey Rabbit’s May Day” by Alison Uttley
  • Play ring games such as “Nuts in May,” ball games, and sack races
  • Pick medicinal herbs and dry them.
  • Sing songs and do fingerplays about the cuckoo bird
  • Have a picnic lunch outside!
  • Make tissue paper flowers
  • Decorate your home with wreaths, garlands, and ribbons.  This is a tradition from England.
  • Serve a May Day cake after dinner.
  • There are directions for a Mayday decoration on page 88 of the book, “All Year Round.”

The inner work of the adult:

May Day was celebrated as freedom and exuberance of summer, and in the book, “All Year Round,” the authors state it is  a time of promise for the farmer, the young people weaving around the May Pole, the young girl washing her face in the morning dew.  Authors Druitt, Fynes, and Rowling write in “All Year Round,” (page 85):  “In most years, May 1st falls between Easter and Ascension.  In the forty days after Easter, the teaching of the Risen Christ gave the disciples glimpses of the Divine Pattern woven by the events of Holy Week.  By Ascension, these glimpses were only a memory, but the promise to His followers remained as their consolation – the promise, “Lo, I am with you always, even unto the end of the world.” (Matthew 28:20).   

Perhaps the inner work of the adult is to find the promise and hope within ourselves.

Have a beautiful May Day!  A final lovely thought:

In many lands the children bring

May Baskets for the first of spring,

And hang them on a neighbor’s door

To say that spring is here once more.

-A. Wynne

Many blessings in your celebrations,
Carrie

 

 

 

Eastertide: 50 Days of Beauty and Joy

Happy Eastertide!  I love the season of Eastertide, which began on Easter Sunday and will last until  Pentecost Sunday (which is on June 4th this year).

I find it comforting that the spiritual journey of Lent, often hard and arduous, gives way to an even longer period of joy and yes, even fun.  There are forty days in Lent, and fifty in Eastertide, which to me signifies and marks the very adult needs of beauty, fun, and play.

Oh yes, to play.  Adults need to play.  Play is not only the realm of children.  Play is often the creative wellspring of adults as well.  I am also convinced it a the key to adult  mental wellness.   We often seem to forget this in our drudgery of work, traffic, children’s activities, cooking meals and changing diapers and cleaning the house over and over, but  our need to play (and rest and relax) is every bit as real as our need to work and help each other.  The child inside of us is never far down if only we reach for him or her.

We recently began Eastertide by spending a few days camping on a remote barrier island that was accessible by ferry.  It was full of palmettos, sand dunes, beach,  live oak trees to climb,  and places to swim and walk.  There were wild horses grazing in the sand dunes, armadillos crossing our path (and raccoons trying valiantly to get into our food and water jugs).  It was five hours away from our home, but still in our state, and yet was so far away from the large and busy metropolitan area in which we live now.  We used to live in this area when we first were married, and moved for job opportunities, but I often miss the quiet, slower pace of that beautiful area of sun and sea.

In this fifty days of Eastertide, I challenge you to play, to rest and relax and notice beauty, and to find and take your joy in the ordinary moments.  They are there, even amongst the chores of housekeeping or holding tiny children.  They are there, even in the times of your teenager dealing with end of semester tests and finals.  They are there, even with your children who are feeling the call of spring and nature to be wild and untamed.   They are there, even in traffic and whizzing cars.  Find those moments and hold onto them for what they are; the seeds of creativity and relaxing love.

Happy Eastertide, my friends.

Blessings,
Carrie

April Beauty

We were away for the first week of April and came home to green grass, blooming ornamental trees, and cold nights but warm temperatures during the day. Spring is here!

This month, we will be journeying through the heart and soul of Holy Week and celebrating Eastertide in its fullest glory, despite the often horrifying and somber events of the world as of late.   The calendar of the Anglican Communion and The Episcopal Church include an amazing array of Saints this month; so much wonder in the midst of darkness to remember.   Our main family  festival dates  this month include:

9- Palm Sunday

10-15- Holy Week

16- Easter

Eastertide!

25- St. Mark

29- St. Catherine of Siena

I am looking ahead to Ascension Day in May and the Rogation Days that precede Ascension Day ( the Monday, Tuesday, and Wednesday prior to Ascension Day).  There is also a Novena of 9 days that begins on Ascension Day and ends on the Eve of Pentecost.  So I am really thinking about how to mark that.

These are a few of my favorite things this month for my family:

  • Since we will be in Eastertide in just a short week,  I am thinking of all the creative and wonderful ways to dye eggs,  thinking of the Paschal candle and light in our home, indoor dish Easter gardens, Easter carols (yes, they are real!) and attending church
  • Gardens outside as well – especially leading up to Rogation Days which is a wonderful time to have seeds, gardening tools and homesteads blessed.
  • Spring cleaning and decluttering
  • Spring menu planning!
  • OUTSIDE PLAY!  How often do we, as adults, forget to play?  Play has really been on my mind lately as a depression and anxiety buster, as a health enhancer, as a way to create family memories and fun!  Look for some ideas about PLAY coming this month to this space.
  • Camping.  It is a nice month to camp where we live, and we will be taking advantage of that by camping at an uninhabited barrier island mid-month.  Wild horses and beach fun!

These are a few of my favorite things for small children:

  • Ramping up all kinds of physical activity since the weather is generally nice…hiking, kayaking, roller blading, walking, playing in the yard never disappeared these past months, but I feel so drawn to these activities now.
  • Incorporating more and more loose parts play and re-arranging indoor and outdoor play areas.

P.S. — For those of you who are using any form of screens with your small children, how about looking at rhythm, play and outside time in preparation for Screen Free Week?  Screen Free Week 2016 is coming May 1-7! You can see http://www.screenfree.org for more details. 🙂

These are a few of my favorite things for grades-age children and teens:

  • Spring handwork – wet felting, making beautiful spring crafts
  • Movement outside and exploring nature
  • Adjusting our rhythm to the seasons, but sticking to strong awake, rest and bedtimes, along with regular nourishing whole foods mealtimes.
  • Exploring local history through geological and nature study, and also through local historical events of significance.  There are so many National Park sites and museums to explore!
  • Letting teens sleep.  Spring is a time when a lot of physical growth seems to occur, and teens need their sleep!

Please share with me what is inspiring you this month!

Blessings,
Carrie

 

Calm Candlemas

“If Candlemas Day be fair and bright

Winter will take another flight.

If Candlemas Day be cloud and rain,

Winter is gone and will not come again.”

-Traditional Verse

Candlemas takes its name from the blessing of candles that will be used throughout the  year.  It is the Feast of the Presentation of Christ to Anna and Simeon, where Christ is seen as the Light.  The light of spring with its new dawning is awakening, and the new meets the old on both physical and spiritual planes.  This is a calming reassurance of the continuity of life and of the potential we have to be a light ourselves.

This day is also marked in the United States as “Groundhog Day.”  The  old belief was that all the hibernating animals would wake up on this day and come out to see if it was still winter or not.  Interestingly, if it is cloudy and the groundhog sees no shadow, there will be an early spring.  However, sunny weather causes a shadow, and the groundhog will predict 40 more days of winter.

The way to mark this day, is to of course, eat the traditional foods of Candlemas, which usually include crepes and pancakes. It is a day for agricultural sowing of the fields, or at least making a furrow, and it could be a day for spring cleaning and beginning new projects.  What new things have you wanted to do and need courage to begin?

And, this is of course a day of candle making. Old candles can be melted down into new dipped or walnut shell candle boats.  Other types of floating candles can be made from  wax poured into little cookie cutters that have been oiled and allowed to set with a wick.  Candles for tiny hands can be rolled; and candles can be dipped.  I keep separate pots for candle making endeavors on a shelf in my laundry room.  There are instructions for “sand candles” in the book “All Year Round”; you will need  a tennis ball to press into the sand and then to poke three holes into this shape so the finished candle will have three legs upon which to stand.  Earth candles are also lovely and can be dug into the yard to welcome all the little flowering bulbs just beginning to make an appearance.

Inside, a traditional nature table for this time of year may include little spring flowers from bulbs, and a pale green cloth.

I hope you found a calming, bright peace on this Candlemas Day.  May our inner light glow out into the world to shine for all to see.

Many blessings,

Carrie

A Special Day: The Feast of St. Brigid

 

A hiatus at this time can throw me back on myself – to ask “Where is my new growth?”  On the other hand, I may be overwhelmed by a sudden hustle of seasonal development and wonder “Am I ready for this?”  I realise I am no longer carried by Nature as I was when a child; I have to find my own way back to life.  For the adult, transitions can be lonely times, and to find our way from the dead of winter to new life in the year ahead we may need to tap much deeper sources of hope and inner confidence.  In this, the sequence of the Festivals can be a support.” – page 26, “All Year Round” by Druitt, Fynes-Clinton, Rowling

Today kicks off two days of festival wonder!  Today is the Feast of St. Brigid, and tomorrow is Candlemas, one of my favorite holidays.  Today, February 1st, is seen as the first day of spring.  I know this seems very odd indeed when in many parts of the Northern Hemisphere people are dealing with ice and cold, but within the agricultural realm, this day  marks the days becoming a bit longer.  This is a traditional time to prepare for lambing, and usually spring sowing begins.

St. Brigid became revered as a Saint within the advent of Christianity in Ireland.  There are stories about Brigid as the daughter of  the innkeeper that gave the holy family shelter in the stable, that she helped Mary escape with an infant Jesus by distracting guards who searched on King Herod’s orders.  She is also associated with having a cloak of miracles.  In some stories, Brigid requested to have land given to her by the King of Leinster, and when the King said she could have whatever her cloak covered, she laid it down and the cloak covered a large parcel of land!

Here are some ways to celebrate:

  • Make St. Brigid Crosses as protection from evil, fire,  lightening, disease.  There are many instructions for this one the web. Here is what they look like if you are not familiar:  http://janegmeyer.wordpress.com/2010/01/25/fifth-century-weaving-a-saint-brigids-cross/
  • Leave out a cloak for St. Brigid to bless as she comes by that will give the wearer protection.
  • Leave out a bowl of milk, butter,  and salt, for Brigid to bless as she comes by.  Leave out a bowl of oats or blessed food.  If you leave out seeds, these will be blessed for Spring Sowing.
  • Food may include freshly churned butter and braided bread. (St. Brigid was known as a cowherd and also a beekeeper).  Making some sort of bread with honey may also be appropriate.  I love the idea of making a cultured butter and Irish Soda Bread today!
  • Snowdrops and dandelions, white and yellow, might be festive for your table with white or green candles and your St.  Brigid’s crosses.
  • There is a lovely prayer for this day:

    Saint Brigid Hearth Keeper Prayer
    Courtesy of SaintBrigids.org

    Brigid of the Mantle, encompass us,
    Lady of the Lambs, protect us,
    Keeper of the Hearth, kindle us.
    Beneath your mantle, gather us,
    And restore us to memory.
    Mothers of our mother, Foremothers strong.
    Guide our hands in yours,
    Remind us how to kindle the hearth.
    To keep it bright, to preserve the flame.
    Your hands upon ours, Our hands within yours,
    To kindle the light, Both day and night.
    The Mantle of Brigid about us,
    The Memory of Brigid within us,
    The Protection of Brigid keeping us
    From harm, from ignorance, from heartlessness.
    This day and night,
    From dawn till dark, From dark till dawn.

    Spring comes fast in the south where I live; I am feeling in the mood to change our nature table to some of the very simplest spring treasures of pussy willows, or budding branches.  This will turn into a simple Lenten table soon enough.

    Many blessings in your celebrations this week,

    Carrie

Celebrating The Light Of Dr. Martin Luther King Jr.

Use me, God.  Show me how to take who I am, who I want to be, and what I can do, and use it for a purpose greater than myself.

Dr. Martin Luther King Jr.

I love this little prayer.  We are currently using it as a breakfast blessing, and will continue to use it until Lent.  Before we began saying this prayer, my little seven year old saw a picture of Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. and commented that Dr. King “worked for all of America,” which I thought was an astute comment. May we all work for our own families, for each other and to build our nations in love and in generosity.

Martin Luther King Jr. Day  is an important day in the cycle of American festivals.  There are only three American federal holidays named after specific people:  George Washington’s birthday, Abraham Lincoln’s birthday, and Martin Luther King Jr. Day.  It is a day to celebrate the light and legacy of Dr. King:  his powerful oration, his ability to galvanize a nation toward equality in love, the youngest Noble Peace Prize winner at the time.

Our family is extremely lucky to live within driving distance of the Martin Luther King Jr. National Historic Site and can visit and walk the areas that were most impactful in Dr. King’s life.  For those of you in many different parts of the country and world, perhaps you will be volunteering today to further light in the world.  Perhaps you will be supporting organizations that champion equality today; in the South we have the Southern Poverty Law Center which does work in civil rights and public interest legislation.

Perhaps for small children you would like to listen to the Sparkle Stories in honor of the legacy of Dr. King.

There are also many wonderful books to read:

I Have A Dream Book and CD

The Cart That Carried Martin (regarding the funeral of Dr. King)

There are many sort of “mid level” biographies to enjoy

“March” – the graphic novel trilogy by John Lewis (preread) (for tweens, teens, adults)

Adults may enjoy the March Trilogy and also this book, “A Gift of Love: Sermons From Strength to Love And Other Preachings” by Dr. King

 

Great inspiration for teenagers for artwork for the day could include the artwork of Derek Russell, which was shared by the Southern Poverty Law Center,  and I have been looking at this morning for my own inspiration.

Volunteering as a family is  a way that Martin Luther King Jr. Day is often celebrated.  Volunteering is another wonderful way to spend time together, build family bonds, and help others.  Sometimes families have a hard time finding volunteer opportunities that will take children under the age of 16, but I encourage you to check with different places in your area.  You may be surprised!

However, we must never forget that volunteerism also begins at home.  We help each other when we are stressed, tired, or upset.   We work together as a family team.   If we live in a neighborhood or subdivision, we help our neighbors in need, whether that is a hot meal or a listening ear.

May the selfless spirit of this day infuse every day for you and your family,

Carrie

 

Love: The Fourth Week of Advent

It is so wonderful that we get an entire week for the fourth week of Advent this year!  There are so many wonderful traditions to do this week, including a celebration of Winter Solstice on December 21.

The Advent Verse from the London Steiner School says:

The fourth Light of Advent It is the Light of humankind:
The Light of hope, of thoughts and deeds,
The Light of hand, heart and mind.

(Again, Advent Verse – London Steiner School)

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This, to me,  illuminates the true meaning of Christmastide to come.  We come to this Earth with gifts, with hopes, thoughts and the ability to do good deeds for all of humankind and for the least among us.  It is our personal responsibility to see the justice and dignity of all people. It is our gift to help and encourage mankind and to provide the goodness and beauty we wish to see in this world.  We are here to love and serve others.

So, this week is all about the light and love we can bring to the world.  If you are looking for ideas, I suggest these back posts:

2012 (story suggestions and more)

2015

Celebrating the Winter Solstice from 2015

My ideas for the week of Advent with its focus on mankind and kind deeds include

Creating/placing people on the Nativity Scene (some place the shepherds out this week if St. Mary and St. Joseph are already out)

Baking gingerbread people

Doing beautiful acts of kindness for those who need it most.

Thanking the workers of your community – postal people, fire people, police, garbage collectors, teachers, mentors, instructors, and more!

For celebrating Solstice, the first day of winter, I love winter walks, dinners by candlight, sun bread, sun tea, making little treats for the birds and decorating an outdoor tree.

How about walking a beautiful Advent Spiral?  You can see this post from 2014 as to how to prepare a beautiful Spiral for your own family or community.

Keep shining in the darkness,

Carrie