Holidays

Frightening Friday

Today is Friday the 13th! For most this is just another day, but for many it is one of the most frightening days of the year.  Not just those who suffer from triskaidekaphobia or parakevidekatriaphobia, but also those who are superstitious without being phobic. The question some of us may be asking is: why?

Tradition

People grow up fearing what they are told is scary.  If you hear every Friday the 13th all your life that it’s a day of bad luck then you are likely to believe it.  The dark side of the day is mostly in our minds, or at least that’s the theory of Stuart Vyse, a professor of psychology at Connecticut College in New London.  If you think about it further that’s really how all culture is passed down through the generations.  Associating bad luck and fear with the number 13 and Friday the 13th is just one part of Western Culture which has been carried through the generations.

Western culture actively avoids the number by skipping it in high rise buildings when labeling the floors or (sometimes) in street addresses. The ever growing number of films dedicated to making this date scary hasn’t exactly helped anyone forget about this custom either.

Biblical Roots

There were 13 guests present at the Last Supper where Judas betrayed Jesus.  The Last Supper was on a Friday.  Merging the two statements gives us one reason for fearing the day.

Other theories with biblical origins also exist.  Some believe that Adam and Eve shared their first taste of forbidden fruit on a Friday. It’s also said that Abel was slain by Cain on Friday the 13th.

 Negative Associations

One of the largest factors contributing to the wide spread fear of Friday the 13th are the number of awful events (real or mythological) which have been associated with the date.

In Norse mythology there is a tale of a doomed dinner in Valhalla. 12 gods were assembled when Loki entered as the 13th member.  He convinced the blind god of darkness, Hoder, to shoot the goddess of joy and gladness, Balder, with an arrow laced with mistletoe. Balder died plunging the morning world into darkness.

King Philip IV of France torture the Knights Templar on Friday the 13th. Apparently he wanted the riches they were supposedly hiding. In Roman culture witches we said to gather in groups of 12 with the devil being the 13th guest.  Friday was once know as the hangman’s day in Britain. This was the day when most executions took place.  The gallows had exactly 13 steps.

Complete Numbers

According to the theory of numerology 12 is a complete number.  There are 12 signs in the zodiac, 12 apostles, 12 tribes of Israel, 12 months in the year, 12 gods of Olympus, the list goes on.  13 in comparison is not a complete number and therefore makes people uncomfortable.  For me it’s the opposite, 12 is a strange number for me and 13 makes perfect sense.  Maybe its from years of consciously embracing 13 and refusing to fear the number.  Now 12 is just awkward for me, it feels like it falls just short of the number comfortable 13.

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Devilishly Good

Easter celebrations generally center around food. Deviled eggs have been a staple in my families celebrations longer than I have been alive.  I have always been amused by foods with the word devil in the name, especially in association with a religious holiday.  Eggs aren’t the only ingredients to get the deviled treatment.

Deviled Eggs

Being one of my favorite foods in general I must include a few different versions.  Eggs are incredibly versatile and can be flavored to meet almost any tastes.

Bacon Jalapeño Deviled Eggs

Beet Avocado Deviled Eggs

Buffalo Blue Cheese Deviled Eggs

Pesto Stuffed Eggs

Sriracha Deviled Eggs

Deviled Ham

Deviled ham has also been called ham salad and is generally found in sandwiches or on toast. It can be used in the same places as tuna or chicken salad. As with the other meat salads once you have the basic flavors mastered you can experiment with your favorite additional seasonings or spices.

Mirlandra’s Kitchen Southern Deviled Ham

Southern Bite Deviled Ham

Deviled Crab

Deviled crab is similar to deviled eggs in that you make the filling and then place it back into the shell.  It’s similar to a crab cake though with less breading and a nifty presentation.

Deep South Dish Stuffed Crab

Deviled Crab

Dooky Chase’s Stuffed Crabs

Devil’s Food Cake

Okay, I admit this one is not really “deviled”, but it’s super delicious and has devil in the name so I’m including it anyway. There are a lot of fun variations one can find on the classic decadent dessert.

Devil’s Food Cake with Salted Caramel Frosting

Mocha Devil’s Food Cake

Devil’s Food Cake with Angel Frosting

Cheesecake Stuffed Devil’s Food Cake

Devil’s Food Cupcakes with Wicked Red Velvet Frosting

Bonus: Heaven and Hell Cake

heaven and hell cake

I found this while researching cakes and I’m pretty sure the devil himself invented it…or it is actually the devil himself in cake form.


Table Bunnies

Spring and Easter and frequently known for showcasing bright pastel colors.  I prefer to add a little darkness to my decor.  It can be a challenge to accomplish this and still have the feeling of spring, but it’s possible.

Red

Red is actually one of the most traditional easter colors in many countries like Greece and Hungary.  The red symbolizes new life and the blood of christ. Decoration often goes beyond just dying a solid color and involves elaborate hand painting. Martha Stewart shows us a modern take on the red egg with the silver and red wreath shown above.  Red, white and silver would make a stunning and elegant color scheme for any Easter gathering.

Green

I love green.  Some say it is my signature color. In spring everything is bursting with every shade of green imaginable.  Bringing all of this new life into your home and onto your table is a beautiful way to celebrate the season.  I am partial to covering everything in moss it create a forested feeling.

Blue

Bright blues are sometimes used in Easter decorations, but you can also use the darker blues and indigos with grace. Or you can mix all the shades you can find for additional fun.

Purple

This color may not be that uncommon in your previous Easter experiences. Typically it is usually used as a compliment, but it could easily be featured as the main color. To make your own galaxy eggs visit this tutorial.

Black

Black is an uncommon color for most holiday’s outside of Halloween.  What people forget is that black goes with everything!


Easter is Coming

This Sunday March 27, 2016 is Easter!  Easter is one of my favorite holidays.  Largely because I love bunnies and I’m happy winter is finally over. It’s earlier than usual this year because the date is determined by the lunar calendar.  In case you don’t already know; Easter always falls on the first Sunday after the first full moon after the first day of spring (March 20, 2016).  Most years Easter lands in April, however, the first full moon of spring 2016 is March 23rd leading to the earlier holiday date.

Easter is also one of the few times of the year that pagan traditions are widely celebrated without judgement. Some may not even know the meanings behind these practices.  Here are a few of them.

The Name

Since antiquity pagans the world over celebrated the spring equinox and the goddess of spring.  Her name changes pronunciation and spelling depending on the tradition. Oester, Eostare, Eastre were all used throughout Europe and the Saxon religions.  Ostara is the most common name used by modern pagans for the goddess of spring and dawn.

The Easter Bunny

Rabbits, bunnies and hares have been long standing symbols of fertility for logical reasons.  Lagomorphs (these animals are not rodents) have some intense reproductive abilities. They have huge litters (up to 14 babies) every year and are capable of having more than one litter per year.  They can even become pregnant with litter number 2 while already pregnant with litter number 1!  That’s nuts!

There are a few different stories regarding who the Easter Bunny (or Hare) is and how he came to exist. Some believe that the rabbit is sacred to the goddess Ostara.  In one telling, Ostara saved a frozen bird and saved his life.  The bird survived, but could no longer fly so he was turned into a rabbit.  This rabbit retained the ability to lay eggs though they are now multi-colored.  After a falling out with Ostara this rabbit was turned into a constellation who can return to earth only once a year, during the Ostara holiday, and give away his colored eggs to children.  Other stories say that the bird was originally scared to Ostara and was punished by being turned into a rabbit after crossing her.

The Easter Bunny can also take on some characteristics from Santa.  He judges whether or not kids are good and deserving of the basket (or bonnet) of colored eggs, treats or toys and then delivers these treats the night before Easter. Though I couldn’t find what happens to the bad kids…..maybe they get rotten eggs?

The Easter Egg

The egg is another classic and understandable symbol of fertility and new life.  People in many cultures throughout time have decorated eggs and given them as gifts.  They may have been boiled with flowers to change their color and bring spring into the home. Or they could have been painted in traditional colors like red (new life) or green (new foliage).  Elaborate decoration techniques can be dated back to Africa over 60,000 years ago when carved ostrich eggs were left in ancient graves.

The colored eggs or baskets brought by the Easter Bunny were sometimes left in a predetermined location and sometimes they were hidden for the children to find the next morning. During the days of the inquisition and witch burning those who celebrated the old ways needed to hide their faith and traditions.  They would hide colored eggs in their yards for the children to find.  It was a way to celebrate the early traditions in secret.  The authorities would sometimes follow or bribe these children to find where the eggs were hidden and thus finding the heathen households.

The Ham

The tradition of eating ham at Easter is more functional than fantastical.  In the days of living off the land most people lived off of cured and preserved meats throughout the winter. They ate very scarcely to make certain the meat would last the full season.  To celebrate the coming of spring families would feast on the rest of the preserved meats including a ham.

The Treats

You didn’t think I would forget about chocolate did you? Or Peeps or jelly beans or any of the super tasty treats often found at Easter.  Sweets are a common part of most holiday traditions for one simple reason, they make people happy.  They are delicious and (especially in ancient times) occasional treats.  These days if you are an adult with money you can find treats whenever you want. If you lived a few hundred years ago you wouldn’t have been so lucky.

There are also old beliefs that consuming something in the shape of a powerful symbol would give you the strengths of that symbol.  So indulging in bunny and egg shaped treats would give you increased vitality and fertility.  And a pretty wicked sugar high.

So this Sunday enjoy all of your favorite traditions which a little more background knowledge.  And stay tuned here this week for more Easter related posts.


Say It With Flowers

Did you happen to forget something this past Sunday…you know, Valentine’s Day? Maybe you remembered the day and got the wrong thing.  Or perhaps you are just awesome and want to send your lovey something nice regardless of holidays. Whatever your reason for sending just about everyone loves receiving flowers.

During the Victorian era the language of flowers or floriography was developed.  The varieties and colors of flowers given said a lot more than just a simple “I got you something nice”.  Pick the wrong color or flower and you may have gotten the bouquet thrown back in your face.

The original meanings were complex and sometimes confusing or conflicting.  Some have been lost to the ages or changed to suit modern times.  Here are some ideas to get you started on creating a meaningful and loving bouquet.

You Are The Love Of My Life

Red and white are a classic combination for a good reason.  The colors connote true, pure and unending love. I prefer bouquets that think outside the rose. The red tulips alone are a declaration of love while the baby’s breath represent everlasting love.  Carnations in red and white convey admiration, sweetness and innocence.  The varied blossom shapes and prominent leaves create a dynamic combination which is sure to please your sweetie.

I Really Like You

Sometimes you want to give flowers to someone you have romantic feelings for, but those feelings haven’t turned into everlasting love (yet). Calla lilies say beauty in basically all colors.  I feel they are lovely enough to be given alone.  If you want to add some greens to fill out the bouquet a bit further I recommend ferns.  Ferns mean sincerity which could apply to either “I sincerely think you are beautiful” or “my feelings for you are sincere, beautiful”.  Even if you are not in love with the person currently the arrangement still shows the feelings you do have are real.

You’re A Good Friend

Chrysanthemums, freesia and alstroemeria all indicate friendship.  Chrysanthemums are also cheerful and optimistic and just plain fun.  Freesia smell amazing and have the added benefit of indicating trust and lasting friendship. Alstroemeria are a great versatile flower that come in nearly every color and add interest to any bouquet.  Yellow is a common color when choosing flowers for friends, but you shouldn’t let that stop you from playing with unique combinations.

I Actually Don’t Like You At All

There are a few flowers and colors you should be weary of giving…unless you want to send a bad message. Striped flowers in general indicate rejection or refusal. The tansy looks super cute with bunches of perky little round yellow blooms. Yellow always means friendship right? Nope. Tansies mean hostile thoughts. Orange lilies are only for people you flat out hate or despise. Hydrangeas aren’t quite as hostile, just dispassionate, frigid and vain.  You might want to think twice before putting those in a wedding bouquet.

The next time you want to give flowers make sure you consider what deeper meanings may be lurking behind those blossoms.  And remember, men like flowers too.


Valentine’s Day Treats

With Valentine’s Day approaching on Sunday I felt I should dedicate this week’s posts to the holiday.  Valentine’s day can sometimes be filled with so much fluff it can make you sick.  I prefer to keep a bit of edge and darkness around just to balance everything.  As we all know, black goes with everything.

One of the best gifts I have found is a batch of homemade treats.  My husband is always happy when I make him a gift.  Plus treats can be eaten and enjoyed together so they are a  gift for you and your sweetie. Here is a list of a few ideas to get you started.

Yummy Gummies

chocolate-covered-cinnamon-bears-4

I am a huge fan of spicy chocolate.  Personally I think the combination of cinnamon and chocolate is under utilized.  These chocolate covered cinnamon gummy bears are fun and easy to make.  Portable and easy to share they can be packaged anyway you like.  You could even experiment with skewering them at different angles and making the impaled bears part of a larger edible arrangement. The best part for me is that they are red so it looks like they are bleeding when you bite the heads off. 🙂 Find the recipe here.

Booty Cookies

img_7061-copy

If you are looking to add a different type of spice to your holiday try these sexy little numbers.  Made with a simple heart shaped cookie cutter you can make a variety of styles to mix and match. Detailed instructions can be found here.

Bloody Good Cheesecake

bloody-good-cheesecake-11

Advertised as a halloween treat I think the red color is perfect for Valentine’s Day. Recipe and more delicious images available here. To make it extra festive, try using a heart shaped spring form pan like this one. Enjoy!