Happy Monday and happy National Humbug Day! Additionally, happy Winter Solstice and Yule! And let’s not forget #TGIM – as I always look forward to Mondays because they are my #52Chances a year, in which I can share Memories of My Mom with all of you!
We’re coming into the hustle-and-bustle of the last stretch of the holiday “to-do’s” before Christmas, which is just around the bend – and today happens to be the national celebration of Humbug Day!
To begin, this is usually a very stressful time of year for most people…having unrealistic expectations, financial pressures, and excessive commitments, to name a few examples. Now add on the Covid-19 pandemic spikes everywhere and all the related restrictions on top of that and the Christmas/Yuletide season has become an even more stressful time of year. Some people wallow in the stress and anxiety with their “bah-humbug” attitudes, while others will put on their boots and forge their way out of the muck, making the best of what they have.
And for the rest of us, Wednesday is Festivus – an alternative outlet, in which “hum-buggers” can air their grievances for the feelings of pressure from the commercialism of the season! Originally, this celebration was formed as an outlet for one family’s pent-up frustrations over the annual chaos of the holiday season. After it was incorporated into an episode of Seinfeld, it became a national sensation!
But this time of year is really such a wonderful and magical season of LOVE! While there will always remain those who like the Scrooge-ish, “Bah-humbug” attitude; I think I come across a lot more people, who are actually spreading around the good cheer than those who are spreading the “hum-bug”.
Mom used to tell me, “the most valuable gift you can give is to be a good example!” This time of year seems to bring out the best “good examples” in most of us. It’s a good kind of contagious “bug” and seems to flow right into the new year. More people are volunteering their time for “good deeds” and helping out those in need by donating money, food, coats, toys and so much more.
Happiness is a state of thought. It begins with gratitude for all we’ve already received and achieved – not with what we ‘own’ or the ‘things’… – Gloria Pitzer, as seen in Gloria Pitzer’s Secret RecipesTM Newsletter, Issue #218 (Secret RecipesTM, Marysville, MI; Nov. 2000, p. 5)
FROM MOM’S MEMORIES…
As seen in…
Gloria Pitzer’s Secret Recipes Newsletter (Secret RecipesTM, St. Clair, MI; Issue 147, Nov-Dec 1990; pp. 1 & 8)
THE CHRISTMAS FEELING
THE EASIEST COP-OUT for those who put a price tag on the pleasures of the holiday & insist that the success of the celebration depends on the amount of money spent on the preparations and gifts. If I give our children only one gift, it will be that I gave some practical sense of what is truly important at this time of year – not the gift, but the gathering of family and friends… Not the food, but the feeling of just being home… Never letting what we want be more important than what we need… Not complaining about ‘trivials’… And always appreciating what we’ve already received before we can expect to receive more… (p. 1)
[THE CHRISTMAS FEELING] is basically a simple hope for peace and good will, no matter what other trappings we’ve attached to the occasion through the years since that single star lit up the sky over Bethlehem. No matter what other customs and traditions mankind has attached to Christmas or the celebration of it, the humble wish for ‘peace on Earth, good will towards men’ remains strong among those who thrive on hope and cherish what is good, refusing to be deprived of such expectations! (p. 8)
Also happening today are the national celebrations for Winter Solstice and Yule. The Pagan Yule celebration existed thousands of years before the Christians began celebrating Christmas! In fact, most of the traditional ways for celebrating the Christians’ Christmas, were actually derived from the Pagan Yuletide traditions of the ancient Nordic and Celtic people.
Ye ol’ Yule’s 12 days of festivities included bonfires, music and dancing, ritual sacrifices (such as lambs), large communal feasts, and gift-giving; as well as decorating with holly, mistletoe and the fresh-cut branches of evergreens. Do you see any resemblances to the traditions of the Christians’ Christmas season celebrations?
The Pagan’s Yule festivities, which is still celebrated in some regions, last for 12 days; beginning with the winter solstice, which usually is somewhere from December 20th to the 23rd, as it changes from year to year. The Christians similarly celebrate the “the 12 days of Christmas”, which takes place annually December 25th through January 5th.
The Yule “log” for the bonfire was actually a whole tree that was meant to be burned for the duration of the 12-day celebration. The Celts believed the sun stood still during the winter solstice and that in keeping the Yule log burning for the whole 12 days encouraged the sun to move, making the days longer.
The largest end of the tree was fed into the hearth first and wine was poured over it, being lit with the remains of the previous year’s Yule log. Everyone would take turns feeding the length of timber into the fire as it burned down, because they believed that letting it burn out would bring bad luck.
The Celts believed that mistletoe possessed healing powers, as well as powers to ward off evil spirits. Today mistletoe is used to encourage the spirit of love.
Additionally, the Vikings traditionally decorated evergreen trees with gifts of wood-carvings and food for the tree spirits, encouraging them to return in the spring. Likewise, the Christians decorate their Christmas trees (also evergreens – fake and real ones) – with ornaments and lights.
And, according to Norse tradition, “Old Man Winter” would visit homes to join in the Yule festivities. The Viking god, Odin was a wanderer with a long white beard and an eight-legged horse. Odin is considered to be the first “Santa Claus”, “St. Nicolas”, or “Father Christmas” – over the centuries and around the world, he has gone by many names.
[NOTE: In the Norse culture, “Jul” (a possible origin of “Yule”) refers to the god, Odin.]
In Yule celebrations, the Norse children would go from house to house with gift baskets of apples and oranges spiked with cloves, resting in sprigs of evergreens. Additionally, the Viking children would leave their shoes by the hearth on the eve of the winter solstice, along with sugar and hay for Odin’s eight-legged horse.
Now Christians go caroling from house to house, including the children; who later “hang their stockings…with care” and set out milk and cookies for Santa, along with carrots for his eight reindeer.
MORE FROM MOM’S MEMORIES…
As seen in…
Gloria Pitzer’s Secret Recipes Newsletter (Secret RecipesTM, St. Clair, MI; Issue 183, Nov-Dec 1997; p. 9)
Whenever we feel we aren’t strong enough to handle some challenge, we can be sure that there’s, within each of us, a natural spirit, an inner strength upon which we can draw. Even when we feel nearly crushed by overwhelming challenges, we can prevail.
When loving others is involved and our being concerned for their welfare is uppermost, we can’t always stop doing whatever is necessary for us to do to overcome hard times. Our love for those in need won’t let us rest until their needs are met, their burdens eased.
It is tremendous to see what takes place when people act out of their concern for others, for the sake of goodness, an unselfish nature that promises no personal reward for efforts exercised. This, in deed, is the Spirit of Christmas.
‘THE CHRISTMAS FEELING is basically a simple hope for peace and good will, no matter what other trappings we’ve attached to the occasion through the years since that single star lit up the sky over Bethlehem. No matter what other customs and traditions mankind has attached to Christmas or the celebration of it, the humble wish for ‘peace on Earth, good will towards men’ remains strong among those who thrive on hope and cherish what is good…’ – Gloria Pitzer, as seen in… Gloria Pitzer’s Secret Recipes Newsletter (Gloria Pitzer’s Secret Recipes, St. Clair, MI; Nov-Dec 1990, Issue #147, p. 8)
According to WorldHolidayTraditions.com, in Holiday Traditions of the United States…, our current holiday traditions come from our world-wide melting-pot ancestry. For example, the tradition of “feasting” during the holidays is characteristic of all nations’ celebrations.
Only the elements of the menus would be different from one nation to another. We get many of our current combination of traditions from our diverse ancestors, who immigrated here from so many different countries, bringing their various customs with them.
As the article explains, a great number of our Christmas carols came from England and Australia. Likewise, the decorated evergreens are from our German ancestry influences (which supposedly influenced our traditional Christmas village displays, as well).
The man in the red suit, whom we’ve come to know as Santa Claus [aka: Father Christmas or St. Nicholas], may have originated in Scandinavia. Likewise, his arrival down the chimney to fill stockings with fruit and nuts is reminiscent of the Netherlands.
Over the years, America’s influence has fattened up Scandinavia’s red-suited “jolly old St. Nicholas” and blended all the different traditions so that he magically came down everyone’s chimney on Christmas Eve, leaving gifts and stockings filled with treats.
Additionally, “St. Nick” traveled in a sleigh drawn by eight tiny reindeer – as in the classic holiday story, ‘Twas the Night before Christmas. At some point, a ninth reindeer, with a shiny red nose, was added to the sleigh-pulling team. The myth of the reindeer-drawn sleigh began in Switzerland. Additionally, our annual American holiday parades may have been inspired by the Latin nation’s holiday processions.
‘If I give our children only one gift, it will be that I gave some practical sense of what is truly important at this time of year – not the gift, but the gathering of family and friends… Not the food, but the feeling of just being home… Never letting what we want be more important than what we need… Not complaining about [the] trivial… And always appreciating what we’ve already received before we can expect to receive more.’ – Gloria Pitzer; as seen in… Gloria Pitzer’s Secret Recipes Newsletter (Gloria Pitzer’s Secret Recipes, St. Clair, MI; Nov-Dec 1990, Issue #147, p. 1)
In honor of National French Fried Shrimp Day, here is Mom’s “secret recipe” for imitating the Berville Hotel Secret Shrimp and Shrimp Cocktail Sauce, as seen in… Gloria Pitzer’s Cookbook – The Best of the Recipe Detective (Balboa Press; Jan. 2018, pp. 109 & 110). Also pictured is a copy of Mom’s “secret recipe” for imitating Arthur Treacher’s fish batter, which I shared in a previous blog post as well.
P.S. Food-for-thought until we meet again, next Monday…
Some other celebrations for the week include:
Tuesday is National Date Nut Bread Day
Sunday is National Fruitcake Day
Next Monday would be my regular monthly visit with Kathy Keene on WHBY’s “Good Neighbor” show – but it had to be postponed to Wednesday, the 30th; still during the first half-hour of the show. Check it out live, or later, through the station’s website at https://www.whby.com/goodneighbor/!
…51 down and ONLY 1 MORE to go for 2020!