February musings... This month finds me looking at my life in new ways...and with a different set of eyes. Eyes that traveled to a far away country this holiday season... for a two week vacation with my family. We traveled to Greece...a magical and heart warming country...that opened it's soul and arms to us...and somehow I found myself feeling changes stir within my own soul...touched by the grace and endearing spirit of the people...and the timeless traditions that to this day...they hold dear...and gladly shared with us.
The Greeks are a proud people...not only because of their past...and the place they hold in human history... by developing their great culture...of by gone years...but who they remain today. Like most cultures...they have moved on to live in today's world...but the personal and community weaving of traditions and celebrating life...is the very fabric of their everyday lives.
Perhaps this is why...although facing financial crisis for many years now...and the majority of the population unemployed...they still hold true...to the very foundation of their culture...and their traditions.These folks embrace life...enjoying it to the fullest...and with gusto and relish. Their smiles and laughter...their music and dancing...is infectious. Food and the cultivating and preparation of it...is a daily ritual and tradition...and you can taste the care and pride they put into their culinary feats...with each and every bite. Even the most simple of foods...like yogurt and sour cherry sauce for dessert...is a special experience...so much so you want to lick your spoon from this heavenly sweet treat.
As we ate a meal one late afternoon in a small village on the island of Evia, Greece...a priest walked in with his altar boy...carrying burning incense...and waving it around...while the priest gave a blessing...to the small cafe. They perform this tradition every January the waiter explained...blessing homes...kitchens and business establishments for continued protection and prosperity. Such a simple but meaningful act...and it was such a joy for me...loving tradition so...to see and experience this ancient rite... in today's world. I actually think it made my meal taste even better...to me..knowing it had been blessed by the priest!
The Central market in Athens is the place to go for daily food...the stalls are filled with fresh food of so many types and all kinds of fresh meats and fish...it is mind jarring...loud...and so exciting at the same time. Fresh meat is cut right before your very eyes...and I have never seen so many types of olives and spices in my life. Not only is the central market where the natives go for their fresh...local food...but it is also a place where they gather to chat...to laugh...to haggle and barter...drink coffee and create community. I often wondered as we ate our meals at different cafe's...which stall our food came from...bought fresh ...hours before...that day...before it was prepared in the cafe's kitchen... for us to savor.
Greek shops are filled with beautiful and unique products...most of them handcrafted from different regions or made locally. Olive oil...sold in bottles...or made into jars of face cream...soaps...or lotions...beckon you inside. Tiles...pottery and leather goods...hand-craved crosses...and religious art are displayed in shop windows...and placed outside shops...to stop...and gaze upon their beauty...and purchase. Olives...jars of honey...spices... and sweets...tickle the nose...with scents...that you can't resist...even if you tried. We actually would stop by almost every night at a popular bakery where everything is handmade right there...and take a small box of sweets back to our hotel to nibble on ...before we went to bed. The guy at the bakery got to know our faces...and would always take the time to talk to us when we came strolling in... all of us eager for our box of honey layered desserts...to snack on later.
In the evening hours...everyone and I mean everyone in Athens's and villages throughout Greece gather in the town center. The cobblestones echo the sound of shoes walking ...up and down...the square ...as well as sounds of chatting...laughing...and music. It is a sight to see...and experience...the bonding and intimacy these lovely people have with each other...as they come together each and every evening to be social and connect with one another.
Like most people...Greeks have their cell phones...WiFi...the internet...and television...there is nothing backwards or backwoods about these folks. But what they do have is this...a history they continue to honor and be proud of...and they express this through traditions and customs that are the backbone...of their lives. They take the time...to stop and smell the roses...and talk to each other...and the sweet sound of laughter and merriment rings in the air. They do not take anything for granted...have learned to be self-suffceint...and I did not hear anyone complain about the cards that have been dealt them with their declining economy.
Their love of life...and the constant embracing of their traditions...keeps them alive...and feeling alive.
I came away from Greece with so many happy memories...and a deeper and richer understanding of why traditions and the everyday ritual of daily living...even during rough times...enriches lives...and creates bonds between people that last forever...handed down from generation to generation. Traditions create "soul" in a person and in a culture...and are something a person can always count on...no matter what is going on in the outer world...or what a person is having to endure. Traditions helps humanity celebrate life itself...in so many countless joyous ways...gives us hope.. a deeper feeling of being alive...and being a willing participant in life and the living that is all around us. Traditions give a person a deep level of appreciation...and fulfillment...that nothing store bought can fulfill...ever.
We all need to step away from our fast paced and often hectic lives...and relearn how to honor each day in simple...meaningful celebrations...that help us all remember what really matters in life.Personal happiness...our families and friends...and a respectful tribute to all that we value... need to come first... always.Traditions and celebrations can do that for you...without you having to spend a lot or any money...but rather by using your creativity and resourcefulness instead.
Somethings from the past need to be released...and somethings that come from our very own souls as humans...need to be held on to...forever.Traditions are life affirming...will always give more meaning...even to the most simple of acts...or events...and are a joy to experience. Traditions are those moments in time...and one of those treasures in your life...to cherish always.
Keep your traditions alive,..
WORLD TRADITIONS AND CELEBRATIONS FOR FEBRUARY...
The month of February is Black History Month....February 2nd Groundhog Day...and Candlemas...February 10th is the first day of the Chinese New Year...February 12th is Lincoln's birthday..February 14th...is Valentine's Day...February 17th is Random Acts Of Kindness Day...Washington's birthday is February 22nd.
In Finland a Lantern Festival this month...is called an ShanYua...a festival celebrating the return of the spring cycle and the arrival of light.
In the French language Valentine's Day is La Saint Valentin.
In France Candlemas is called La Chandeleur and is celebrated in the church but is not a public holiday. It is however a tradition to eat crepes on this day.
FACTS ABOUT THE MONTH OF FEBRUARY
The month of February's name comes from the Latin word februarius...meaning to purify.
FLOWERS OF FEBRUARY...is the primrose
GEMSTONE OF FEBRUARY...is the amethyst
FULL MOON...February 3rd
TEACHINGS OF FEBRUARY...Purify...and detox...your life on on levels...as well as see where you need to grow and heal. Learn to love yourself...and practice self forgiveness..this is also a great month to journal future plans.
FOLKLORE FOR FEBRUARY...
...A snowy February was said to bring a good spring cycle...while a mild month meant stormy weather for the spring season.
...In Italy they say that if the moon changes on a Sunday...there will be a flood before the month is out.
COOKBOOKS I LOVE...
The Tucci Table...by Stanly Tucci
This cook book is full of family recipes that are just plain wonderful!
PENNY FOR YOUR THOUGHTS...
SUPPLIES: Pennies...a clean glass jar
Make this month...the month you commitment yourself to changing your thinking...and experiencing a more loving and positive attitude about your life and life in general. Here is a simple and unique daily activity or meaningful ritual you can begin practicing...giving you clarity and hopefully the insight to change your thinking.
Put your glass jar in a place that you will have easy access to and also plenty of pennies handy. Each time you have a negative thought or catch yourself being judging towards yourself or others...or being critical... place a penny into your jar. No cheating!!!!
Do this Penny For Your Thoughts...the full month of February...you will be amazed by your results...but please do not judge yourself...just try to change your negative thinking...into positive thoughts...the best you can.
To complete this process...take your pennies to a change machine...convert into dollar bills...and then donate your money to a worthy cause.
FEMININE LIVING TRADITIONS...
...For your Hearth
February is still cold and wet...even snowing in some parts of the country...so something warm...nurturing...and comforting is called for...in your kitchen. Here is a great veggie soup...that is also healthy...but hearty for those you love...including you.
This recipe has ingredients that help your system release toxins...as zucchini is a natural diuretic,,,garlic and onions are rich in sulfur...and fresh basil stimulates your circulation. Medicine in a bowl.
TOMATO & ZUCCHINI SOUP
1 lb ripe tomatoes
4 cups vegetable stock
1 onion finely chopped
2 garlic cloves finely chopped
2 zucchini (about 7 inches long each)
1 tablespoon extra virgin olive oil
a handful of fresh basil coarsely chopped for serving
Using a sharp knife...make crosses in the tops of the tomatoes and put them into a heatproof bowl. Pour boiling water over tomatoes and let sit for about 2 minutes. Drain water off tomatoes...then with a sharp knife gently peel the skin off the tomatoes...then finely chop...and put them to one side.
Next...heat your tablespoon of olive oil in a large frying pan...and when hot...add the onions...and the garlic and cook until soft. Add the chopped tomatoes and the veggie stock. Bring to a boil...then cover and simmer gently for 20 minutes. Season to taste with pepper and a little salt. Cut the zucchini into small cubes and add to the soup...then bring to a boil...and simmer 2 minutes...or until the zucchini are fork tender.
To serve...ladle into a bowl...and sprinkle the fresh basil on top.
...FOR YOUR HOME
This month make it a focus to create a lovely and calming space in your foyer or entrance way into your home. Keep your front porch clean and tidy...and beautiful with potted plants that will easily thrive in your gardening zone. Put out a welcome mat...so you and others can wipe off their shoes...and always leave porch lights on while away...light is always so warm and inviting...plus it is a good safety precaution as well.
As you walk into your foyer or front entrance...have a small table to put your keys or mail on...and if there is room on the table... a lovely vase filled with fresh flowers...of the season. If you have ample space...place a pretty chair or stool against a wall to sit and put on shoes or take them off. Art work...beautiful mirrors...a lovely rug...and small lamps also will make your entrance hall...a space of serenity...and welcoming beauty for all who enter your home...and set the tone for welcoming and hospitable energy.
I know how much you love and value... your home...it is after all....your sacred sanctuary from the outside world...and needs to be a calming shelter...for you and your loved ones. Knowing how important a safe haven your home needs to be...I developed and can offer you my HOME BLESSING e-course. My course is delivered to your email address...in an easy...simple...format...that allows you to give your home...the qualities and serene environment that everyone in your family will benefit from...and blesses your home itself with loving...and positive energy. My HOME BLESSING e-course also includes a fact sheet explaining the history of Home Blessings...as well as a document stating that your Home Has Been Blessed for you to print out...cut...and frame...so you can display the date your home was blessed.
You can order my HOME BLESSING e-course by visiting my web site at www,feminineliving.com
and click on the button TRADITIONS...where you will see my Home Blessings as well as other e-courses I offer.
...FOR YOUR HEART
Spread some love and some warmth by purchasing a few packages of socks...and handing them out to the homeless this February.
Purchase some flowers...and leave then on the doorstep for someone in your neighborhood that you know is alone...just because it is the right thing to do.
Tuesday, January 27, 2015
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