The History of Good Friday

 

Daffodils & Tulips

What is the history behind Good Friday?  It is known the day Jesus was crucified and is observed during Holy Week as part of the Paschal Triduum on the Friday preceding Easter Sunday.  It may coincide with the Jewish observance of Passover. It is also referred to as Holy FridayGreat FridayBlack Friday, or Easter Friday. according to Wikki, “Based on the details of the Canonical gospels, the Crucifixion of Jesus was most likely to have been on a Friday (John 19:42).”  Christians spend this day in fasting, prayer, repentance, and meditation on the agony and suffering of Christ on the cross. It is known as the day when after suffering for many hours, he released his spirit.

Although the day is not a federal holiday in the USA, some states, countries and municipalities may observe the holiday including ConnecticutDelawareFloridaHawaiiIndianaKentuckyLouisianaNew JerseyNorth Carolina,North DakotaTennessee and Texas. Public schools and universities are usually closed as part of spring break.  Banks regulated by the federal government are not closed nor are retail stores. The financial and stock markets are closed. Many countries with a strong Christian tradition such as Australia, Bermuda, Brazil, Canada, the countries of the Caribbean, Chile, Colombia, Costa Rica, Ecuador, Finland, Germany, Ireland, Malta, Mexico, New Zealand, Peru, the Philippines, SingaporeSpainSweden, the United Kingdom, and Venezuela, the day is observed as a public or federal holiday. Good Friday is widely accepted as part of the Easter tradition by Christians throughout the world.

 

 

 

The History of Spring And Its Religious Holidays

Pansy Ribbon FloralAfter a long cold and barren winter, Spring and the celebration of the vernal equinox are always a welcome occurrence.  A rebirth of nature and all living things arrive in all their glory, and bring new reaffirmed faith.  Long ago on the Roman calendar, Spring was considered the start of the new year. One of the four solar seasons, Spring is identified with youth, dawn and the morning star.

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Various religious holidays are also celebrated and observed with each season and Spring is a time of observance of traditional Jewish, Christian, Christian Orthodox and Bahá’í days of observance. Christians celebrate Easter.  There are many stories and legends surrounding the origin of the word.  These include a history and celebration of Spring, a day to remember deliverance, a celebration of new life in Christ, and of his resurrection.  The word, Easter, is from “Eostre”, a pagan Anglo-Saxon Goddess of the sunrise (in the east) and the spring. She is the Teutonic goddess of the dawn.  In Norse mythology, the name is spelled Eostare or Ostara. An ancient word for spring is Eastre.

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Passover is the Jewish holiday celebrated in Spring. Pesach is the Hebrew word for Passover and its place in the Jewish calendar coincidentally corresponds to the beginning of Spring. It is the anniversary of the day God delivered them out of Egyptian bondage. God had demanded the first-born male from every household but would pass over the home if the blood from a perfect lamb was smeared on the doorpost of the home. God then commanded that the observance be remembered as Passover. The holiday’s place in the Jewish calendar corresponds with Spring.

According to Wikki, “Naw-Rúz in the Bahá’í Faith is one of nine holy days for adherents of the Bahá’í Faith worldwide and the first day of the Bahá’í calendar occurring on the vernal equinox, around March 21.  Norouz, historically and in contemporary times, is the celebration of the traditional Iranian new year holiday and is celebrated throughout the countries of the Middle East and Central Asia such as in IranAzerbaijanAfghanistan, and Tajikistan. Since ancient times it has been a national holiday in Iran and was celebrated by more than one religious group. The Báb, the founder of Bábism, and then Bahá’u’lláh, the founder of the Bahá’í Faith, adopted the day as a holy day and associated it with the Most Great Name of God.”

The history of all of these religious holidays are important to remember and understand.  Traditions, holidays and religion are important building blocks of life that we continue to carry with us from childhood to adulthood and pass on to future generations. By understanding the religious celebrations and holidays of other cultures we broaden our respect for diversity in our world today and respect for the history of these traditions.
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St. Patrick’s Day Parades and Celebrations

 

It is suprising, but the tradition of parades to celebrate St. Patrick’s day began in America not in Ireland.  On March 17, 1762, Irish soldiers serving in the English military marched through the streets of New York City. This helped them reconnect with their Irish roots and with their fellow Irish friends.  Over the next 35 years the Irish celebrations began to flourish with Irish patriotism among American immigrants. Now annually there are large parades on St. Patrick’s Day in many of the major cities of the United States, such as New York, Chicago, Philadelphia, Savannah, and Atlanta.

Yesterday , for the first time, I attended my first St. Patrick’s day parade in Atlanta and it was an experience. There was not only the traditional floats but bagpipes and traditional Irish music, clowns, balloon sculptures and more.  I captured most of it on video and have broken it down in small segments for easier viewing.

Part 1 The start of the parade –

Part 2 The Bagpipes Marching Band wearing kilts

Part 3 –

Part 4- Rockmart, Ga. Marching Band

Part 5 – Children Folk Dancers

Part 6 – Star Wars Club of Ga.http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=vSziyunziv4&feature=share&list=UU-bQBGfblvBSydyGgSGK7ew

 

 

 

 

Traditional Holiday – St. Patrick’s Day – Food And Wearing Green

Shamrock2In my past two blogs, I have discussed the history of St. Patrick’s Day and of the leprechaun, but how about the St. Patrick’s Day customs of food, and wearing green?  I have also wondered if the way we celebrate here in the USA is the same in other countries and especially in Ireland.

My mother would prepare corn beef and cabbage when I was a child and so I was familiar with that as part of the traditional foods.  I discovered however that a different version of the dish is to cook the corn beef, cabbage and some new potatoes together. It is considered to be a more traditional meal than cooking it separately as my mother did.  In researching this, I found that the corned beef and cabbage is more of and an Irish American tradition. In Ireland it is usually pink bacon and cabbage.  A friend reminded me that shepherd’s pie is also a traditional Irish dish. It is a baked casserole made with lamb meat, seasonings, gravy and mashed potatoes.  Sometimes beef is substituted for the lamb meat. On a search for other traditional Irish food, I found an interesting dish, colcannon..  This dish is a combination of mashed potatoes, onion, and either cabbage or kale.  It is associated with the harvest and is traditionally eaten on Halloween.  Symbols of good fortune, such as a golden ring predicting marriage within a year, a sixpence for wealth, a thimble for spinsterhood or a button for bachelorhood are often hidden as a surprise inside the dish. Other traditional foods such as Irish soda bread, cabbage soup, Irish stew, mint punch and  Irish coffee are other options for serving authentic dishes for St. Patrick’s day. Recipes for these dishes can be found on the internet.

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One of the more popular traditions of St. Patrick’s Day is wearing green. What is the history behind this and why the color green?  One answer is because the Catholic side of Ireland is identified with green.  St. Patrick is a Catholic Saint that is credited with converting Ireland to Christianity.  Protestants are identified with orange and are often called, “Orangemen”, as in King William the Orange.  according to Wikipedia, “The clashes in Ireland between the Catholics and Protestants are often clashes of the green and the orange. The irony is that the Irish flag, is supposed to represent the unity of the two with the white between the two colors representing unity. The traditional pinching of a person who wears orange on St. Patrick’s Day is a mild form of the violence that has so often occurred in the past as both factions have had St. Patrick’s Day marches/parades. In Ireland, you only wear green if you are Catholic. Protestants all wear orange. The US does not observe this tradition. The day is celebrated with parades, green beer and lots of shamrock decorations. On St. Paddy’s day, everyone is Irish.” Another theory on why the color green is such a tradition is the practice of wearing green during the Vernal Equinox to celebrate the rebirth of the Earth. When Christianity invaded Ireland many of the former pagan practices were kept as traditions.  St. Patrick included using bonfires.This became the  symbol of the sun onto the cross, which became known as the Celtic Cross.

It is evident that both traditional food and wearing green are important traditions for St. Patrick’s Day and add enjoyment to this traditional holiday rich in history.

 

 

 

 

Leprechauns – St. Patrick’s Day Folklore And History

 

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Part of the fun surrounding St. Patrick’s day is the legend and folklore of the leprechauns. As a teacher I would have fun with my elementary students by talking about leprechauns and how they might come around when we least suspected it for a little mischief.  The morning of St. Patrick’s day, I would scatter green glitter around the classroom and put green food coloring in the toilets in the bathroom.  The children would gasp and ask what was going on. I  relied that it must be those mischievious leprechauns.  As the day progressed we would have projects involving activities for St. Patrick’s day and then during recess, I would have another teacher watch my students while I went back to the classroom and rearranged things including putting trash cans on desks and putting things out of place.  The kids’ reactions when they came back in the room was so much fun to watch.  One little boy said that he did not believe in leprechauns so he figured the only ones that could possibly upset the room and be so mischievous were the hamsters the class had as pets, but then how did they get out of their cages?

I thought it would be interesting to find out what is the history and folklore involving leprechauns.  According to Wiklipedia, the name leprechaun is derived from the Irish word leipreachan  and is defined by Patrick Dinneen as “a pigmy, a sprite, or leprechaun.”  The character is described as a solitary small person around three-foot tall that spends his time making and mending shoes as a cobbler.  He also loves practical jokes and is known to be mishievious but not totally good or evil, but a degenerate fairy. Wikipedia also states,

“The earliest known reference to the leprechaun appears in the medieval tale known as the Echtra Fergus mac Léti(English: Adventure of Fergus son of Léti). The text contains an episode in which Fergus mac Léti, King of Ulster, falls asleep on the beach and wakes to find himself being dragged into the sea by three lúchorpáin. He captures his abductors, who grant him three wishes in exchange for release.”

This is most likely where the three wishes part of the folklore was established. As the story goes the leprechauns also store their gold coins in a big pot and hide their treasure at the end of the rainbow.  If a human finds the treasure, the leprechaun has the power to grant the human three wishes.

The appearance of the leprechaun with the orange/red beard and green suit and hat is actually a stereotype of the leprechaun and in Ireland the appearance varies to  which region of Ireland you are in. In some of the regions the clothes are a red coat, white pants and a white beard, a fare departure from what is normally associated with our visual image of the leprechaun and the history and folklore.

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St Patrick’s Day History – Traditional Holiday

March is the month of the year known as the windy month but more important as the month when St. Patrick’s day is celebrated on the 17th.  Since I was a child I have always thought it is such a fun celebration.  I remember as a child trying to remember to wear green on that day so other kids would not pinch me or question where were my green clothes.                                         Shamrock2

As the years have gone by, I have continued to love the holiday and heard of parades and local celebrations including green beer and turning the river green that runs through Savannah, Ga.  It makes me wonder if the holiday is so much fun here in the USA, how is it celebrated in Ireland and what is the history of St. Patrick’s day.

Most of us know that the holiday was named for St. Patrick, the patron saint that was born during the fifth century. Although he was born in Roman Britain, he was kidnapped and brought to Ireland as a slave at the age of 16.  He eventually escaped, but eventually returned to Ireland and was credited to introducing Christianity.  His death was believed to be on March 17, 461 and his memory and the mythology of the holiday became ingrained in Irish culture. One of the well-known symbols of the holiday is the shamrock or Irish clover.  As the legend goes St. Patrick used the shamrock and its 3 leaves to symbolize the Holy Spirit; the Father, Son and Holy Ghost.

People in Ireland have celebrated the holiday as a Catholic day of feast since the ninth or tenth century.  Although the holiday originated in Ireland, the first St. Patrick’s Day parade was in the USA on March 17, 1762 when Irish soldiers in the military marched in the streets in New York city.  The parade and the music helped the soldiers to reconnect with their roots and other that shared their heritage.

By learning and sharing other nationalities holidays, customs and traditions, we show respect and honor and broaden our understanding of our world and all people.