Monday, December 6, 2010

On keeping saints' days... or not

[Trying to keep Valerie's Rules of Good Blogging, one of which is that if you have a substantial comment, don't leave it in the comments, make a new post of it. I originally posted this as a comment on Brandy's blog, which you should all be reading.]



We notice saints' days, but mostly in an informal way -- the same way we talk about loved ones who've passed away on their birthdays or the anniversaries of their deaths. Our church gives everyone a calendar, which I keep hung near my phone, that tracks which Sunday of the year it is and the proper liturgical color for each day, plus the saints that Anglicans recognize, and there's one for maybe a fourth of the days. Some of them I've never heard of but occasionally it'll be one with a really cool story, like Boniface, and then I'll mention it and we'll retell the story of him chopping down Thor's sacred oak. Other times it'll be one of the twelve apostles or one of the martyrs, and I'll mention how they remained faithful till the end, suffering much for the sake of Christ.

There are a very few that we notice a little more formally -- St. George, for example, whose feast day is in April. During that month we read Sandol Stoddard Warburg's adaptation of Edmund Spenser's Saint George and the Dragon. Some day I hope to be able to read the original. Then in October, we read Chesterton's Ballad of the White Horse about Alfred the Great (who, inexplicably, isn't on our calendar).

For the most part, you see, it's a way of teaching Church history, which is really the history of our extended family. If you start looking up saints' biographies you're likely to find all sorts of wild stuff, like Saint Nicholas standing on his own two feet on the day he was baptized (I'm assuming as a newborn) for three hours, in honor of the Trinity, and that he early on began fasting twice a week, refusing his mother's milk on Wednesdays and Fridays until after evening prayers. I usually skip those, but occasionally include one or two to let my kids know that some fantastic tales have grown up around these heroes of the faith. I don't want them to be cynical, so I don't usually pooh-pooh stories of healings, and things that really could have been miracles, if you see what I'm getting at, so a huge amount of discretion is required on Mama's part when reading anything about the saints to the kids.

We've done a few things to commemorate St Nicholas's day -- one year we bought hope chests for our two oldest daughters. We plan to do the same for our two younger ones in the next few years. If I ever find anything nice to put in there, I try to save it for St Nicholas day, but I'm not too good at doing that. We're not doing anything at all for it this year, other than reading a bit about him -- about how he slapped Arius at the Council of Nicea and temporarily lost his position over it. LOL.

We don't notice Valentine's day at all, unless Mike happens to bring home candy or flowers, and we may or may not wear green on St Pat's day (I've avoided the orange b/c it seems to politicize the day, which misses the point) -- but I just learned something interesting. Green is itself political. The original color of Ireland before the whole Prot/Cat issue came up, was blue. After reading that, I was looking at the flag of our county -- King George -- it has George I's coat of arms on it, which is quartered with all the realms he ruled over. In the lower left quarter is the arms of Ireland, azure (bright blue) with a gold Celtic harp. That's Irish Blue, and I think we'll wear it next year.
;-)

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