Purpose of this Blog...

You may have noticed that not all books are equal in capturing children's imaginations and in cultivating those innocent, tender souls. My goal is to help you find the ones that do!
(Painting by Mary Cassatt: "Mrs Cassatt Reading to her Grandchildren" -1888)

Saturday, February 1, 2014

First Feasts of February: St. Brigid's Day and a Day for Candles and Hedge- um, that is - Groundhogs

St. Brigid's Day is today, February 1st.  Celebrate by reading a special book and making a St. Brigid cross!
"Brigid saw Christ in everyone she met, and had
a particular love for those less fortunate than herself."

St. Brigid, a contemporary of St. Patrick, founded a monastery in Kildare in the 6th century. It is said that she converted her father to Christianity while making a cross from rushes. You can try your hand at making a St. Brigid cross, like this one, by going here.
In those early Christian times the farmers adopted the custom of making crosses of straw at the beginning of spring to protect their holding, placing the St. Brigid's Crosses in prominent positions in their houses and buildings.The tradition of making St. Brigid's Crosses on St. Brigid's Feast Day continues to the present day.
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THE LIFE OF SAINT BRIGID, Abbess of Kildare, has been lovingly told by Jane G. Meyer. Zachary Lynch's captivating and colorful illustrations are full of Celtic influence. 
Brigid's father, a chieftain, becomes weary of Brigid's generosity and takes her away to be sold to a neighboring king.  While the deal is being settled with the king, Brigid gives away her father's sword to a poor leper.  The king, realizing that Brigid would give away his wealth as well, advises Brigid's father to release her from slavery and grant her freedom. 

Her prideful father yields to the plan, but tries to force Brigid to marry - which leads Brigid to scar her own face, in order to be left alone by her family.  They finally understand her desire to devote herself purely to Christ, and she is allowed to become a nun,
"...marrying Christ and His Church instead of man.
And as a sign of God's hand upon her, the scar on her cheek was healed
as the priest placed the white veil upon her head."  

In this book, your child will learn how Brigid, Abbess of Kildare, tended sheep and the poor, founded convents, worked miracles, and visited kings.  St. Brigid is known today as a patron of travelers, healers, and midwives; and a protector of flocks and herds, and newborn babies.

A second February Feastday:
Tomorrow is another big day - many of you may be thinking about the Super Bowl or even Groundhog Day, but February 2 is one of the important 12 Feasts of the Church, when we bring our candles to be blessed.
In the Eastern Orthodox Church, we refer to it as "The Presentation of Christ in the Temple" (described in Luke, chapter 2); it is known as "Candlemas" in the West.

Why the emphasis on candles and light?  Because of St. Simeon's prophecy in Luke:
"Lord now lettest Thou Thy servant depart in peace. For mine eyes have seen Thy salvation which Thou hast prepared before the face of all people. To be a Light to enlighten the nations and to be the glory of Thy people Israel."
Traditionally, if the sun shone on "Candlemas Day" - February 2 - Europeans believed the hedgehog would cast a shadow and another six weeks of winter was inevitable.

If Candlemas be fair and bright, 
Come, winter, have another flight. 
If Candlemas brings cold and rain,
Go, winter, and come not again.
A Hedgehog stand-in: The Groundhog
When the first Germans arrived in North America, no hedgehogs were to be found. But another similar animal, the groundhog - or woodchuck - was here.
Believed by the native Indians to be "a wise and sensible animal," the groundhog became a hedgehog stand-in. So that is how the American the tradition of "Groundhog Day" was born.

Find my past posts, HERE about some literary hedgehogs (they're waaay cuter then groundhogs)!

1 comment:

  1. I love the St. Brigid's Cross. Something about it just captures my attention!
    thanks for the book recommendation too, you find the best stories!