Monthly Archives: March 2014

Young at heart? Why not OLD at heart!

“Aging…Not everyone gets here. We, all of us who looked battered and weathered, are more beautiful than we know.”so says Jan Wilberg on a wonderful piece of writing on her blog at   Red’s Wrap. 

It only takes a moment to read   – but it  will  be hours in your head!

Read on  here 
My thanks to Social Bridge  for reblogging this wonderful piece of writing from Jan Wilberg’s  blog.

 

 
http://redswrap.wordpress.com/2014/03/22/youre-asking-the-wrong-question/

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Filed under Ageism, Healthy Living, Older Generation, Social Policy

Mother’s Day

Tulips and Daffodils

Tulips and Daffodils traditional Mother’s Day flowers. Image Commons.Wikimedia

These final weeks of March have, for some years now, been ‘busy’ weeks in our house in terms of celebrations. In Ireland, we have St Patrick’s Day on March 17th giving as it does, such welcome relief from the austerity of  Lent. For Catholics, Lent meant 40 days of fasting and abstinence. Why did we say 40 days, when it is actually 46  from Ash Wednesday to Holy Saturday? On Ash Wednesday and Good Friday we barely ate anything as these were days of Fast and Abstinence. On Fast Days we were allowed 1 small meal and 2 collations – a collation being a snack. On days of Fast and Abstinence no meat was allowed. This always amused me as most people could not afford meat every day of the week anyhow! So for Lent – no sweets, no biscuits, no cakes – and when I was growing up 60 years ago in Donegal, no dances, no cinema, no marriages, in fact not much of anything. St Patrick’s Day allowed us to ‘break’ Lent and gorge on cake and sweets, have milk and sugar in our tea and eat tons of Kimberley and Mikado biscuits.
I have a secret – my birthday happens not long after Paddy’s Day. Try as I might my birthday always always falls in Lent, and has on a few occasions even fallen on Good Friday, a dismal  day for a child to have  a birthday! This misery continued for  18 years and so for  my entire youth I was a begrudging victim of circumstance.

When I went to live in England in the 1960s I discovered several things: English Catholics did not have the same rules about Lent as we had  in Ireland. They could even eat meat on Fridays and in a diverse society there were normal happy things happening – dances, weddings, cinemas were open, people ate chocolate and potato crisps even on Good Friday! Not only this, but they heartily celebrated Mothers Day, which falls in Lent. Mother’s Day was  then unheard of in the Donegal Highlands.

‘Mother’s Day’ is not an invention of Hallmark cards, but in fact has its roots in ancient history. In Ireland, as in the UK, Mothering Sunday is celebrated on the 4th Sunday in Lent. In other parts of the world it is usually celebrated in March, April or May.

Celebrations of motherhood can be traced back to the Ancient Greeks and Romans. The ancient Greeks held a spring festival dedicated to Rhea, the mother of the Greek Gods Zeus, Poseidon and Hades. They also celebrated the Festival of Cybele, Mother of The Gods, at the time of the March equinox and this was later adopted by Romans who celebrated it around the Ides of March ( March 15th to 18th). Also in ancient Roman religion there is mention of the Matronalia when women got gifts from their husbands and daughters, husbands were expected to offer prayers for their wives and slaves were given a day off work.

Several Christian denominations, including Anglican and Catholic, celebrate Mothering Sunday. It falls approximately mid Lent, on Laetare Sunday (‘Laetare’ means ‘Rejoice’). On this day, there was a relaxation in the austerity of Lent. In Elizabethan times, girls who had been hired out as servants were given a holiday in the middle of Lent, so that they might visit their families. In the 16th century there was a practice of returning to the ‘mother church’ (the main church of the area), which meant that children in service would be reunited with families on that day. To prove their new-found cooking skills, they brought home a gift of a ‘Mothering’ or ‘Simnel’* cake. Dairymaids or laundry maids who had no cooking skills, would often be presented with a ’mothering cake’ by a sweetheart.

Simnel Cake - a very old Mothering Sunday custom . Image Commons.Wikimedia.

Simnel Cake – a very old Mothering Sunday custom . Image Commons.Wikimedia.

The Lenten fast was at that time very rigorous, so the cake was made with a rich mixture so that it would keep until Easter. They also picked wildflowers for their mothers as they made their way home and the wild violet became a traditional gift for mothers.

-_Narcissus_pseudonarcissus_03_-The tradition of Mothering Sunday gradually died away over the decades. It is said to have been revived during World War 2 by visiting American and Canadian soldiers who celebrated Mother’s Day on the second Sunday in May. The celebration was indeed revived but the original day – the fourth Sunday in Lent – was retained in these islands. Our Mothering Sunday has now become Mother’s Day, (and is nowadays heartily celebrated in Ireland) but call it what you will, it remains a day to celebrate motherhood in general and your mother in particular. Happy Mothering Sunday to all mothers!

* I have an old recipe for Simnel cake. If anyone would like to have it, please email me.

 

 

 

 

 

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Filed under Celebrations in Ireland, Ireland, Irish Traditions, Mother's Day, My Oral History

St Patrick’s Day:Badges,Shamrocks and ‘Going Green’

Badges, Shamrocks and Going Green for St Patrick’s Day.Update of an earlier post.

A SILVER VOICE FROM IRELAND

adare shamrock A bowl of ‘Shamrock‘ on a restaurant table in Adare, Co. Limerick this week

St. Patrick’s Day…When half the world turns green and the other half is out parading –  or so it seems! Airports, rivers, waterfalls, tourist features, buildings, beer and people the world over – all in green livery for the ‘big day’. From Pyramids to Google Doodles– they are all ‘at it’!  But, it is far from all of this that we were reared!

Trifolium.dubium This little 3 leafed plant looks like the Shamrock that we used to pick for St Patrick’s Day. It grew tight to the ground and was difficult to pick the little sprigs.

St. Patrick’s Day celebrations  in my small village in Donegal were traditionally simple. Apart from obligatory Mass and school being closed, nothing else much happened. I have tried to recall the events of a typical St Patrick’s Day…

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Filed under Ireland

Extraordinary Ordinary Women

iwd_long
Each year International Women’s Day (IWD) is celebrated on March 8 when thousands  of events occur all over the world in celebration of  the achievements of women.

The first International Women’s Day (IWD) was in March 1911. It had its origins in America a few years earlier where women had come together to protest against poor working conditions, resulting in a National Women’s Day being declared by the Socialist Party of America. Subsequently at an International Conference for Working Women in Copenhagen, attended by delegates from 17 countries, and including the first 3 women elected to the Finnish Parliament, a proposal to have a special day each year to focus on women’s issues was met with unanimous approval. International Women’s Day has evolved into a global day of celebration of the achievements of women, socially, politically, and economically. Women’s rights campaigners highlight inequalities and raise money for Charity and  Celebrities the world over associate themselves with the day.

iwd_theme

Inspiring Change

The United Nations  recognized International Women’s Day in 1975 and for the past 19  years it has designated a global theme for the day. Their  theme for 2014 is ‘Inspiring Change’.

The need for change has been very much highlighted by the publication this week of a European Union wide report on violence against women. This report, reveals the startling statistic that one in 3 women across  28 member states of the EU  has experienced either physical or sexual violence since the age of 15.

It is interesting to note that the United Nations has returned to the need to stop violence against women as a theme for International Women’s Day time and again as can be seen below.

Year       Theme

1999       World free of violence against women

2007      Ending impunity for violence against women and girls

2009      Women and men united to end violence against women and girls

2013       Time for action to end violence against women.

Some groups, countries and organizations select their own theme for IWD. It is not surprising therefore to find that the EU has adopted as its theme ”Preventing Violence Against Women – a Challenge for all”  for IWD in 2014. This is their Poster .

On International Women’s Day  we rightly celebrate our ”celebrity women” who have made a difference to the lives of many, but we must not forget the ordinary women such as the 1 in 3 who suffer abuse who are the most extraordinary of all.

womendayHappy Women’s Day to all my readers!

Further reading/references:

E U Report 2014

The Guardian Report

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Filed under Healthy Living, International Women's Day, Ireland, Social Change