FEMINIST FRIDAY – MRS. SANTA CLAUS

In the spirit of the Christmas Season, I am dedicating this post to the hardworking and often overlooked woman from the North Pole:

MRS. SANTA CLAUS

Who feeds the reindeer all their hay?
Who wraps the gifts and packs the sleigh?
Who’s helping Santa every day?
Mrs. Santa Claus

Who keeps his red suit looking nice?
Who does he turn to for advice?
Who gives the brownies all their spice?
Mrs. Santa Claus

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FEMINIST FRIDAY

I found this curious and amusing article about women in Ireland.  Enjoy!

Little Women’s Christmas



Ireland’s traditional “girls’ night out” is still observed by a few dedicated girlfriends

By Sheila Flitton

“Nollaig na mBan” or “Little Women’s Christmas” is an old custom that’s still celebrated by women all over Ireland. It goes back to the days when large families were the norm. Men never lifted a finger in the house to help, and were never expected to. If a man washed the dishes, he would be called an “auld woman” by other men. No full blooded Irish man was prepared to risk that!

But each year, after the Christmas holiday, tired women finally got a break – for one day, at least. On January 6th (the same day as the Epiphany), men would take over of the housework, offering women a chance to go out to relax with each other.

Never one to break with tradition, I returned to my hometown of Cork this year (from Dublin) to join my sisters and women friends to celebrate. As we sat overlooking the River Lee from Cork’s Metropole Hotel dining room, I thought, “We keep the tradition alive but, not in the same way our mothers did.”

Ladies On Guinness
During my childhood, I remember excited, shawled women hurrying to the local public house. On Little Women’s Christmas, they would inhabit this man’s domain without shame. Sitting in “the snug,” a small private room inside the front door, they would pool the few shillings they’d saved for the day. Then they would drink stout and dine on thick corned beef sandwiches provided by the publican. For the rest of the year, the only time respectable women would meet for a glass of stout would be during shopping hours, and then only because it was “good for iron in the blood.”

After an initial chat about the worries and cares of the old year, a pact would be made to leave them outside the door (something that was easier to do before the advent of cell phones). They’d be as free as the birds in the sky for the day – and well on into the evening. Late at night, with shawls dropped over their shoulders, words slurred and voices hoarse, they would always sing. In my memory, I still here them bellowing the unofficial Cork City anthem, The Banks of my own Lovely Lee:
“Where they sported and played
‘neath the green leafy shade
on the banks of my own lovely Lee.”

Some say this tradition is dying. But I was surprised to see how many women of all ages upheld it this year. Like my own sisters and friends, most women no longer gather in the snug of a public house. Wine and lunch has replaced the bottle of stout and corned beef sandwiches. And of course, today’s new man, no stranger to the kitchen, is home trying his hand at cooking and spending quality time with the children (or so they say).. We can’t stop progress, but it’s a pleasure to see Little Women’s Christmas survive.

Sheila Flitton, an actress and playwright, has performed in theater, TV and film for 30 years. She has written three novels and toured the US in her own one-woman play. She was recently nominated for the Best Actress Award in the Irish Times/ E.S.B. Awards for her role in “The Beauty Queen of Leenane.”

WOMEN AROUND THE GLOBE ROCK! 

I invite you to share a link to your story of an inspiring woman.

FEMINIST FRIDAY

For thousands of years the holiday season was a time to celebrate women. I am sharing the rich history of our Christmas traditions so that we can appreciate that a women’s power is pervasive that it can still be found within the wreaths and boughs of today’s Christmas.

When Santa Was a Woman: 5 Christmas Histories You Want to Know:

 

1.     Kissing Under the Mistletoe

"A Christmas Kiss" by George Bernard O'Neill. Public Domain image.

“A Christmas Kiss” by George Bernard O’Neill. Public Domain image.

Kissing under the mistletoe can be traced back to the Norse goddess Frigg(a) whose son Baldr was killed by a mistletoe spear. When the gods brought Baldr back to life, Frigga declared that, from then on, people passing under mistletoe should kiss in celebration.

While few people today would credit Frigga with this tradition, “[t]he church seems to have known of the links to a pagan religion, because traditionally mistletoe is not included among the greenery that decorates churches at Christmas.” [2]

2.     Christmas Eve and Christmas Day

"The Christmas Tree" by Albert Chevallier Tayler. Public Domain image.

“The Christmas Tree” by Albert Chevallier Tayler. Public Domain image.

Once upon a time, Christmas Eve was known as “Mothers’ Night,” a festival held on the eve of Yule that celebrated The Mothers.

“In the 7th century, Bede, a monk living in a Saxon England that was still largely heathen, chronicled how the night before Christmas was known as Modraniht, Mother’s Night. Stretching back at least 6,000 years, there are references all across ancient Europe to three all-powerful female gods called the Mothers. [3]”

3.     The Christmas Tree and Christmas Carols

"Glade jul" by Viggo Johansen. Public Domain image.

“Glade jul” by Viggo Johansen. Public Domain image.

The Christmas tree is by far the most iconic symbol of the season. The beloved evergreen is a holiday staple for Christian homes, and has been adopted by countless non-Christian holiday-lovers.

Of all the holiday’s traditions, the Christmas tree might have the most ancient and varied roots in a pre-Christian world.

According to the Encyclopædia Britannica, “The use of evergreen trees, wreaths, and garlands to symbolize eternal life was a custom of the ancient Egyptians, Chinese, and Hebrews. Tree worship was common among the pagan Europeans and survived their conversion to Christianity.” The “Christmas tree” was as common in pagan Rome and Egypt as it is today. In Rome the tree was a fir, but in Egypt it was a palm tree.

When you decorate your homes with wreaths and Christmas greenery, think about this:

“Ancient Egyptians brought green palm branches into their homes on the winter solstice as a symbol of life’s triumph over death.]”

Palm trees were sacred to goddesses from Ishtar to Inanna  to Nike/Victoria.

"The Palm Leaf" by William-Adolphe Bouguereau. Public Domain Image.

“The Palm Leaf” by William-Adolphe Bouguereau. Public Domain Image.

So, too, does the Christmas tree have roots in early Judaism. The ancient Israelite goddess Asherah was worshipped by erecting “Asherah poles,” which were either carved wooden poles or trees.  “Just as early Christians recruited Roman pagans by associating Christmas with the Saturnalia, so too worshippers of the Asheira cult and its offshoots were recruited by the Church sanctioning ‘Christmas Trees.’”

And the Christmas tree has other herstoric pagan roots as well. Roots buried in the rich soil of Mothers’ Night.

In the Viking saga Erik the Red, on Mothers’ Night a traveling winter seer would pay the locals a visit. She carried a tall, decorated staff and was greeted with a feast and incantations sung to summon the spirits of midwinter.

The seer’s staff symbolized—you guessed it—a tree. That decorated “tree” was an early ancestor of the beautiful evergreen you have sparkling in your living room, and the sacred songs sung to the seer were precursors of today’s Christmas carols. [16]

4.     Down the Chimney and Through the Hearth

"Christmas Fireplace" by Issa Gm. Licensed for public use under the GNU Free Documentation License and Creative Commons Attribution.

“Christmas Fireplace” by Issa Gm. Licensed for public use under the GNU Free Documentation License and Creative Commons Attribution.

What’s more Christmas-y than chestnuts roasting on an open fire, the Yule log burning, and stockings hung by the chimney with care? What childhood Christmas is complete without the time-old tale of Santa coming down the chimney? No matter how intrinsic these traditions are to this Christian holiday, the fireplace—the hearth—and the Christmas traditions that surround it, are rooted in herstory.

The tradition of celebrating the hearth comes from the goddess Hestia, whose name means “hearth,” while families used to wait for the goddess Hertha to descend through the chimney bearing her gifts long before there was a Santa Claus.

5.     Santa’s Sleigh and Holiday Wishes for Peace on Earth

"Santa's Sleigh Lands on a Roof." Public Domain image.

“Santa’s Sleigh Lands on a Roof.” Public Domain image.

The Roman writer Tacitus tells us that at midwinter the goddess Nerthus—whose name was synonymous with Mother Earth—rode a “sleigh-like wagon” pulled by oxen. Wherever she went, she spread holiday cheer and peace. “It [was] a time of festive holiday-making in whatever place she deign[ed] to honour.” Along with bringing holiday cheer, wherever Nerthus went, “nobody [went] to war, nobody [took] up arms.”

“Eventually Nerthus was superseded by two goddesses, Freya and Frigg. At midwinter Freya was incarnated as Mother Christmas in rituals all over western Europe, touring the countryside in a wagon, though hers was pulled not by oxen but by cats. Later, her presence was represented by wise women who were possessed by her spirit.”

There are loud echoes of Nerthus’ sleigh-like wagon in Santa’s sleigh. Of course the oxen (or cats!) became reindeer, and the sleigh now flies, but one thing remains unchanged in the millennia since Mother Earth was the central figure of Christmas. Wherever Santa goes, he brings holiday celebrations and (at least wishes for) peace on earth.

  

WOMEN ROCK AT CHRISTMAS AND EVERYDAY!

 Please feel free to add a link to your post about a special Veteran in your life in the comments section.

52 WEEKS OF THANKFULNESS – WEEK 27

52weekw

BE THE CHANGE YOU WANT TO SEE IN THE WORLD.

I invite you to come and join me on this pilgrimage to change the world through thankfulness.  Perhaps if enough of us join together we can change the negative climate that exists and is overtaking our planet. Together we can move our fellow citizens of to a better, higher and finer place.

I want to share with you some of the quiet moments of beauty that I was very thankful for.

christmas-collage

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FEMINIST FRIDAY – MRS. SANTA CLAUS

In the spirit of the Christmas Season, I am dedicating this post to the hardworking and often overlooked woman from the North Pole:

MRS. SANTA CLAUS

Who feeds the reindeer all their hay?
Who wraps the gifts and packs the sleigh?
Who’s helping Santa every day?
Mrs. Santa Claus

Who keeps his red suit looking nice?
Who does he turn to for advice?
Who gives the brownies all their spice?
Mrs. Santa Claus

Continue reading

ALL NEW WRITER’S QUOTE CHALLENGE

invitation-shel-silverstein

Bernadette at http://www.HaddonMusings.com

Jacqueline at http://www.Acookingpotandtwistedtales.com

Jacqueline and I invite you to join in on our blogging event called The Writer’s Quote Challenge.

Here is my offering for this week just in time for Christmas:

“Though I’ve grown old, the bell still rings for me as it does for all who truly believe.”  Chris Van Allsburg, The Polar Express.

believe

MY CHRISTMAS OFFERING TO YOU

May the message of Christmas

Ring out like a bell

True and sweet,

May it be embraced by 

Young and old alike,

Peace on our earth

And good will to all.

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A Christmas Present #WRITEPHOTO

photo-prompt

It was Paloma’s first Christmas when the Enchantress came to visit.  It was a great honor to have her come to our humble home but very frightening.  What could she possibly want with our dear, sweet baby?

You have given this child a name that befits her, she said with the most seraphic voice. Paloma has been charged with a mission since before birth.  You have been granted the privilege of keeping her safe until she reaches womanhood and can fulfill her mission.

This small package is all that Paloma will need to fulfill her task.  On the Christmas of her 20th year hang it on the tree for her to open.

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CELEBRATING THE BEAUTY IN THE ORDINARY

MY WEEKLY THANK YOU NOTE TO GOD.  THANK YOU RUTH AYERS FOR MAKING THIS SPACE AVAILABLE.
MY WEEKLY THANK YOU NOTE TO GOD. THANK YOU RUTH AYERS FOR MAKING THIS SPACE AVAILABLE.

This week again it was hard to move my soul to celebration.  But, once more, I think that I am getting this idea of celebrating wrong.  I am concentrating on the grand moments of life.  The blow out the candle and make a wish moments and not realizing that these glorious moments are built on celebrating the ordinary moments of my life.

One of the consistent ordinary moments of my life is my morning walk.  This week there has been much to celebrate about my my morning ambulations.

The first is the beauty of my little town all decked out and waiting for the holiness of Christmas and the fun of Santa.

The second ordinary moments on my walks I celebrate this week has been the amazing balmy December weather we have been enjoying this December in New Jersey.

And this third ordinary moment I captured was this poor, little, confused pussy willow trying to bloom for Christmas:

pussywillow

I felt like he was the Little Drummer Boy of the the tree world this week.  Trying to show some flourish up against all those big pines full of lights and colored ornaments.

Wishing you a week filled with ordinary moments worth celebrating,

Bernadette

CHRISTMAS TRIVIA

I started wondering last week about Christmas traditions.  I looked at all the red and green that is used for Christmas decorating.  I asked several very bright people if they knew why the popularity of red and green.  No one knew the answer.  So I went on an hunt for the answer.  I know you are all thinking, “This woman has way too much time on her hands”.  But I really don’t have that much time but once I have a question without an answer I become a regular Dora the Explorer.

So gentle readers, the web site http://www.sensationalcolor.com posted the following explanation:

christmas colors green and red shown in apples and pine

PINE GREEN & APPLE RED

I think the most likely root of the red and green tradition dates back to the 1300s when Adam and Eve’s Day was celebrated on December 24th.  Each year on this day churches traditionally presented a Paradise Play depicting the story of Adam and Eve and the Garden of Eden.

Now you can’t have a story about Adam and Eve without an apple tree but since it wasn’t easy to find a real tree full of ripe, red apples during the winter apples someone came up with the idea of fastening apples to the branches of a pine tree.  This decorated pine tree represented the Tree of Good and Evil.  But the tree wasn’t only seen in the play.  Churches began adding a tree donning red apples into their Christmas displays.

The decorated tree that began as a prop for the Paradise play was so popular especially in Germany, that people began to put pine trees up in their homes during the holiday, decorating them with red apples, as the church folks had done and the tradition of having a Christmas treee was born.

The idea spread and both Christmas trees and the color combination of red and green were well on its way to becoming official symbols of the Christmas holiday.

Wishing you peace and happiness this Christmas.

Bernadette