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Playing For You From Our Scented Cottage
Let Christmas not become a thing
Merely of merchant's trafficking,
Of tinsel, bell and holly wreath
And surface pleasure, but beneath
The childish glamour, let us find
Nourishment for soul and mind.
Let us follow kinder ways
Through our teeming human maze,
And help the age of peace to come
From a Dreamer's martyrdom.
During medieval times, the decorated Yule log was ceremoniously carried into the home on Christmas Eve, and placed in the fireplace. Traditionally the Yule log was lit with the saved stump of last year's log, and then it was burned over the twelve days of the winter celebration. It's ashes and stump were kept until the following year to sprinkle on the new log, so that the fortune would be passed on from year to year.
Ashes from the Yule log were mixed with the cattle feed to ensure their health and in other regions the ash was sprinkled around fruit trees to increase their yield of fruit.
If you would like to practice an old tradition for luck throughout the New Year, hang a sprig of mistletoe above a major threshold in your home and leave it there until next Yule.
Symbolism of Yule:
Rebirth of the Sun, The longest night of the year, The Winter Solstice, Introspect, Planning for the Future.
Symbols of Yule:
Yule log, or small Yule log with 3 candles, evergreen boughs or wreaths, holly, mistletoe hung in doorways, gold pillar candles, baskets of clove studded fruit, a simmering pot of wassail, poinsettias, christmas cactus.
Monday's child is fair of face,
Tuesday's child is full of grace,
Wednesday's child is full of woe,
Thursday's child has far to go,
Friday's child is loving and giving,
Saturday's child works hard for a living,
But the child who is born on the Sabbath Day
Is bonny and blithe and good and gay.
Monday: An Luain or Dé Luain (Irish)— Latin Lunae, "of the Moon"
dies lunae (Latin)
peer or somwar (Islamic)
getsu youbi (Japanese)
Monday is traditionally viewed as the second day of the week and "the day of the moon"
It was believed by ancients that there were three Mondays during the year that were considered to be unlucky: first Monday in April, second in August and last in December.
Mondays are for women's mysteries, illusion, prophetic dreaming, emotions, travel, fertility, cooking, family, the home, intuition, medicine, spiritual growth and the ocean.
Some suggestions for Monday would be to:
Get outside and look for the moon in the heavens to bring you wisdom and insight.
Empower your silver jewelry under the light of the moon. Wear moonstone or pearl jewelry today to add a lunar and magical shimmer to your outfit. Be mysterious and subtle and wear moon-associated colors such as white, silver, and blue.
Gather bluebells, jasmine, gardenias, or white roses, flowers that are associated with the moon.
Eat a lunar fruit such as a melon to be healthy, serene, and at peace.
Brew a cup of chamomile or mint tea for sweet dreams and restful sleep.
Color: Silver, white, light blue
Deities: Thoth, Selene
Gemstones: Pearl, opal, moonstone
Herbs & Plants: Wintergreen and other mints, catnip, comfrey, sage, chamomile
Associations: Childbearing and family life, purity and virginity, healing, wisdom, intuition
According to old Irish folklore, if Christmas falls
On Sunday: it means a warm winter and a hot dry summer.
On Monday: a foggy winter and a windy summer.
On Tuesday: a snowy winter and a wet summer.
On Wednesday: a hard winter and a very good summer.
On Thursday: a soft winter and a very good summer.
On Friday: a moderate winter and a moderate Autumn.
And on Saturday: a windy snowy winter and a good summer.
Are you curious about what your weather holds for you in your corner of the world? Check out the Farmer's Almanac here.
I'll take my sleep in those green fields,
the place my life began,
Where the boys of Barr na Straide
went hunting for the wren.
I am reposting my Wren article since it is inching ever closer to wren day. Did you know that the wren was for many years hunted and killed, partly out of hatred (it was regarded as a sacred bird by the Druids and consequently denounced by the early Christians) and partly because it was believed that the bird's feathers would prevent one from drowning? It is now considered very unlucky for a sailor to kill a wren.
Wren day also known as Wren's day, Hunt the Wren Day or The Hunting of the Wrens (Irish: Lá an Dreoilín) is celebrated on 26 December, St. Stephen's Day, on the Isle of Man, Ireland, Wales and Newfoundland. The tradition consists of "hunting" a fake wren, and putting it on top of a decorated pole. Then the crowds of mummers or strawboys celebrate the Wren (also pronounced as the Wran) by dressing up in masks, straw suits and colorful clothing and, accompanied by traditional céilí music bands, parade through the towns and villages in remembrance of a festival that was celebrated by the Druids. These crowds are sometimes called wrenboys.
A wren is said to have betrayed Irish soldiers fighting the Norsemen by beating its wings on their shields. It was also blamed for betraying St. Stephen, the first Christian martyr. This is the usual explanation why the wren is the hunted bird on St. Stephen's day, though there are many.
Some more tidbits on the wren are:
It is alled Drui-en or Druid bird in Irish Gaelic. In Welsh the word Dryw means both druid and wren.
The wren is as the Druid: known to be cunning. The wren could soar to heights while also navigating hedges and underbrush.
It is said that the Druid's house was the wren's nest and that the wren's nest was protected by lighening.
Whoever tried to steal wren's eggs or baby wrens would find their house struck by lightning and their hands would shrivel up.
The wren symbolised wisdom and divinity. It is difficult to actually see a wren. At New Year it is said that the apprentice Druid would go out by himself into the countryside in search of hidden wisdom. If he found a wren he would take that as a sign that he would be blessed with inner knowledge in the coming year. Finding a creature small and elusive to the point of invisibility was a metaphor for finding the elusive divinity within all life.
In Scotland it was the Lady of Heaven's Hen and killing it was considered extremely unlucky.
In Ireland it was known as 'Fionn's doctor'.
Lightning was the weapon of the thunder bull-god Taranis, who often inhabited oak trees, and the wren was sacred to Taranis.
Get out your soup pot or crockpot and warm yourself up with some homemade soup. White beans slow cooked with vegetables and fresh herbs--parsley, rosemary, lemon thyme, and savory. What could be better on a cold December day? Ingredients:
2 tablespoons olive oil
2 carrots, peeled and diced
1 lb dried navy beans, soaked overnight
4 cups mushroom broth
1 vegetable bouillon cube
1 bay leaf
4 sprigs fresh parsley
1 sprig fresh rosemary
1 sprig fresh lemon thyme, chopped
1 sprig fresh savory
1 large potato, peeled and cubed Directions:
Heat a small amount of oil in a skillet over medium heat.
Cook and stir onion and carrots in oil until tender.
In a slow cooker, combine beans, carrots and onion, mushroom broth, bouillon, and bay leaf.
Pour in water if necessary to cover ingredients with water.
Tie together parsley, rosemary, thyme, and savory, and add to the pot. Cook on Low for 8 hours.
Oh yes you can, and this is the first loaf you should try! So easy, NO kneading, prepare to be amazed by your baking skills! You don't even need a loaf pan, just grab a couple 1 1/2 quart pyrex casserole dishes or serving bowls! If you don't need two, just cut the recipe in half. Here we go:
4 cups all purpose (unbleached) flour or bread flour
2 teaspoons salt (I use sea salt)
2 cups lukewarm water
1 Tablespoon sugar
2 teaspoons active dry yeast.
In a measuring cup or bowl, stir the sugar until dissolved into the lukewarm water. Add yeast and set aside for about 10 minutes. It will start bubbling.
In a large bowl stir the salt into the flour. Add the yeast water to the flour and give it a stir until it looks all mixed in. Cover with kitchen towel and let it rise about an hour.
After the hour or so rise, coat your 1 1/2 quart oven proof containers lightly (I use Pam cooking spray) with oil so the dough doesn't stick. Cut dough in half (a fork works well) and place a half in each bowl. (You don't even need to touch it, just pour it in!)
Cover with a kitchen towel and let rise again for an hour. I actually make a little tent by putting cups around the containers and covering with the kitchen towel. This keeps the towel from sticking to the bread when it rises. Nothing fancy here at the cottage, whatever works!
After this rise, preheat the oven to 425 degrees. Bake the bread for 10 minutes at 425. Turn the oven down to 375 degrees and bake for another 22-25 minutes until golden brown.
Take out of oven, gaze at your lovely bread, and let cool for about 5 minutes. Then take the bread out of the pan and let cool on rack. If you've greased your bowls they should slip right out. If not, just run a knife around the rim and slip them out.
That's it!!! Your cottage will smell heavenly and you will enjoy a great loaf of bread! I love the size the casserole dishes make, perfect for sandwiches! Let me know how you love it...and I'm optimistic you will!
Drinking eggnog at Christmas is believed to go back as far as the early 1600s. It was a beverage that was common to the upper class in England during the 1800s. Eggnog is a “descendant” of a British drink called posset which contained eggs and milk with a touch of ale. It is believed that the “nog” in the word eggnog refers to a noggin, which was a wooden mug that was used to serve drinks in taverns.
There are many variations of eggnog, and each family seems to have their own secret recipe. Generally, the U.S. version of eggnog includes milk, sugar, egg yolks, and heavy cream. During Colonial times, rum was used as the alcohol.
If you're not fond of eggnog as a drink, perhaps using it in a cake would suit you. With nutmeg sprinkled throughout, it is a wonderfully fragrant and moist cake that is wonderful with tea.
Of course Christmas was not the only day upon which eggnog was popular. In Baltimore it is said that it was a tradition for young men to call on all of their friends on New Year's Day. At each of many homes the strapping fellows were offered a cup of eggnog, and so as they went, they became more and more inebriated. It was quite a feat to actually finish one's rounds.
The first U.S. President, George Washington, was quite a fan of eggnog and devised his own recipe that included rye whiskey, rum and sherry. It was reputed to be a stiff drink that only the most courageous were willing to try.
No matter how you celebrate, or what you eat or drink, we at Our Scented Cottage wish you a Happy Holiday Season and many blessings in the coming year.
I love old recipes and have quite a collection of them. As I was browsing through my files the other day I came across my bean soup recipe. I love bean soup, and if you use the crock pot it couldn't be easier. Bake some biscuits or bread to go with it and you have some real comfort food for a cold winter evening.
The following recipe was transcribed verbatim from The Daily Picayune, New Orleans, Orleans Parish, Louisiana.
January 16, 1912
Put in to soak overnight one pint of white beans. Next day put on to boil a piece of lean beef, a soup bone with a bit of meat on it is best, and a piece of fat pork about three inches square. Turn in the beans, water and all. Put in a little pepper and salt and and a bit of sliced onion. Cook at least four hours. At the proper time, so as to be thoroughly cooked at serving time, put in a few carrots, potatoes and sliced turnips. Old-fashioned, but delicious.
Of course you can alter this recipe to use in your crock pot by soaking the beans overnight and then placing all ingredients in your cooker to cook all day. If you're vegetarian you can omit the meat and add more veggies. Enjoy!
As a lover of the Victorian and Edwardian Eras I am fascinated by the traditions. Read on to learn some of the information I have come upon over time. I am especially fond of the idea of Christmas gift giving in the "old days" being focused on handmade gifts and food items, and simple, yet elegant Christmas decorations.
Kissing beneath the mistletoe, Santa, exchanging gifts, caroling, all wonderful traditions embraced by the Victorian Era, are some of our best loved traditions today. The Nativity has been celebrated since the 4th century. "The Colonies", however, were slow to embrace the idea of Christmas, as the celebration of a Father Christmas in his long fur trimmed robes was seen as a heathenish notion. The Christmas Tree
The Christmas tree has been a German tradition since as early as the 17th century, but many ancient civilizations held evergreens to be a symbol of life during the long winter months and decorated trees as a symbol of eternal life. In 1841 Prince Albert, German husband of Queen Victoria, introduced the charming custom to the royal family. In 1850, a tinted etching of a decorated tree at Windsor Castle was published and the Tannenbaum became a necessity for every fashionable Victorian home. It was a tradition quickly embraced by Victorian England. Live trees were set up for the Christmas season decorated with lighted candles, draped with tinsel, ribbon, paper chains, cookies and candies.
Although the Victorian idea of Christmas was not commercial, having more to do with food and the exchange of handmade gifts, New York soon saw the commercial advantages of a holiday full of the exchange of gifts. By the 1880's Macy's department store windows were filled with wonderful dolls and toys from Germany, France, Austria, and Switzerland. Another window boasted scenes with steam driven moveable parts.
Homemade cornucopias of paper filled with fruit, nuts, candy, and popcorn were hung from branches of trees in America and England. Beautiful shaped cookies were hung for treats on Christmas day. Often the gifts were also wrapped and hung from branches.
With the growing popularity of Christmas trees, manufacturers began producing ornaments around 1870. Also popular were molded wax figures of angels and children. Many ornaments were made of cotton-wool wrapped around metal or wood and trimmed with embossed paper faces, buttons, gold paper wings and "diamond dust", actually powdered glass. Caroling
The custom of caroling is an English tradition which was quickly taken up by America. In cities, the approaching holiday season was marked by strolling carolers, usually in groups of three, one caroler to play violin, one to sing, and one to sell sheet music. Holiday shoppers would pause to purchase music, joining in for a few stanzas before hurrying homeward. Carolers would stop at houses to sing, hoping to be invited in for a warm drink.
Wouldn't it be wonderful if we could be transported to the celebrations of that era?
These cookies are wonderful, and not just perfect for Christmas, but any time of the year. Just change the color of the food coloring in the filling and they are ready for any occasion. I have also been known to put ice cream between the sandwich cookies in lieu of the filling in the summer months. I then wrap them in plastic wrap or waxed paper, place in a freezer bag, and have a great treat any time we fancy one.
1 cup butter (no substitutes) softened
1/3 cup whipping cream
2 cups all purpose flour
1/2 cup butter (no substitutes) softened
1-1/2 cups powdered sugar
2 teaspoons real vanilla
In a mixing bowl, combine butter, cream and flour; mix well.
Cover and refrigerate for 2 hours or until dough is easy to handle. Divide into thirds; let one portion stand at room temperature for 15 minutes (keep remaining dough refrigerated until ready to roll out). On a floured surface, roll out dough to 1/8" thickness. Cut with 1-1/2" round cookie cutter. Place cut outs in a shallow dish filled with sugar; turn to coat. Place on ungreased cookie sheet. Prick with a fork several times. Bake at 375 for 7-9 minutes or until set. Cool on wire racks.
In a mixing bowl cream the butter, powdered sugar and vanilla. Tint with food coloring of your choice. Spread about 1 teaspoon filling on half of a cookie, top with remaining cookie.
Deep within the winter forest among the snowdrift wide,You can find a magic place where all the fairies hide....
Yule Tide is here! With right good cheer, And joy in cottage and in hall; In frost's despite, We laugh and light, The fire of Christmas festival.
Sweet childish days, that were as long As twenty days are now. ~William Wordsworth, "To a Butterfly"
When Christmas bells are swinging above the fields of snow, we hear sweet voices ringing from lands of long ago, and etched on vacant places are half-forgotten faces of friends we used to cherish, and loves we used to know. ~Ella Wheeler Wilcox
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Welcome! Please pour yourself a cup of tea and settle in and relax with me awhile. As you'll notice, I am captivated by ancient times, a soul misplaced in this modern day. I have a love for my ancestry and I believe people who grow up without a sense of how yesterday has affected today, are unlikely to have a strong sense of how today affects tomorrow.