Saint Patrick’s Day

Saint Patrick’s Day

Our family is big on celebrating St. Patrick’s Day. We celebrate not only St. Patrick but also our Irish family heritages. The day is full of prayer, fun activities, yummy food, good whiskey, and traditional Celtic music. It all starts with a big breakfast.

Meals

While we do not have a standard breakfast we eat on St. Patrick’s Day, one thing is for sure – it must include green. This year it included green almond milk server with waffles covered in yogurt, whipped cream, berries, banana slices and, yup, green sprinkles. Growing up, my mother always made me green eggs and ham on St. Patrick’s Day.

At lunch, we may prefer to have tea and tea sandwiches. This year we had traditional Irish tea (our favorite is Barry’s) along with tea sandwiches which included our favorite gluten free vegan bread, vegan cream cheese, chives and cucumber slices arranged like shamrocks. This was a recipe provided by Catholic All Year in our March subscription box.

For dinner, we always make a traditional Irish Boiled Dinner with sour pickles. I’m actually not too sure just how “traditional” it is, but it’s what my family made every St. Patrick’s Day and it’s become something we look forward to each year.

Activities

Throughout the day we may pick and choose from many different activities including:

Listening to a podcast on St. Patrick from Saint Stories for Kids. We love this podcast series that gives a brief overview of a Saint and then shares a live action story from traditions surrounding them, sound effects and all. They are short enough to keep our kid’s attention span and exciting enough to talk about the rest of the day!

Crafting, which includes binding three corks together to dip in paint and make shamrock designs, using dot markers or pens to create a rainbow and a pot of gold (including gold glitter), coloring St. Patrick coloring pages, etc. The possibilities are endless!

We also have an annual St. Patrick’s Day Scavenger Hunt. This year we used a scavenger hunt we found online that had clues Pickles, our 4-year-old, had to figure out. At the end of the hunt the prize was a plastic bin with anything green and St. Patrick’s Day related we could find. Later in the day this served as an activity/sensory bin Pickles and Bacon could both enjoy playing with by dyeing water or foam green and putting all the items (plastic green and gold coins, shamrocks, etc) in the water or foam and then letting the kids at it.

This year we did two scavenger hunts, simply because Bacon, our 1-year-old, is not able to engage in clues. Instead, we had cut out snacks from green paper in different shapes and sizes and had him run around finding them. Once he had them all we ‘banished’ the snakes from ‘Ireland’ by casting them into the ottoman (it seemed appropriate).

Activity and sensory play are also a consideration. As noted above you can use things like green water or green foam in a bin with green items, or if you prefer a less ‘wet’ option – try shredded green paper or green slime.

Lastly, we wrap up the day watching a documentary on Ballintubber Abbey in Ireland. We visited there when we were in Ireland years ago and fell in love with the Abbey, it’s history, and its connection to St. Patrick.

Treats and Libations

Like the activities listed above, there are a variety of treats and libations to pick from when considering celebrating St. Patrick’s Day. Over the years we have narrowed down to making Irish Coffee and Irish Whiskey Cookies. Of course, in order to do this you will need some good Irish Whiskey. Plan ahead.

Prayers

As alluded to in the introduction to this blog post, prayers are important on St. Patrick’s Day. We specifically like to pray the prayer of St. Patrick’s Breastplate and bless the children with holy water we acquired in Ireland from St. Patrick’s well.

We hope you have/had a blessed St. Patrick’s Day. Now back to our regularly scheduled Lenten fast!


Lent and Easter

Lent

Lent is a time of prayer, fasting and almsgiving within the Catholic Church. The 40 day period starts on Ash Wednesday and ends on Easter Sunday. It is a time of intentional reflection, remorse, and spiritual growth.

Prior to Lent

Prior to Lent we like to spend time as a family discussing our Lenten observances, especially the sacrifices we plan to adhere to as individuals and as a family, and what we intend to do instead of whatever it is we are sacrificing.

The intent during Lent is to remove those things from our lives which are hindering us – anything we are attached to; that has control over us. It is about reordering and setting right order where we are not controlled by things.

For instance, this year we recognized that we have let too much screen time into our lives and it has become an outlet of escape for us. We tend to eat more dinners in front of the television, put the kids in front of their favorite shows more often, have less play time and prayer time because of screen time, and get to bed later and wake up more tired because of screen time. It was creating much chaos for us and was not ‘serving’ us in any useful way; in fact, it was a detriment to us and our family. So we have decided to only allow two 30 minute blocks for screen time during the day for the kids, eat our meals at the table or kitchen island, and to have no screen time at night before bed but to instead replace that time with family time.

Mardi Gras / “Fat Tuesday”

After having decided on the focus on our family and individual sacrifices we wait for Mardi Gras, the Tuesday prior to Ash Wednesday. Mardi Gras literally means “Fat Tuesday” and is the day prior to Lent when you get it all out of your system. This is a day to eat rich foods, get as much screen time as you can, do whatever it is that you know you will be abstaining from for the next 40 days.

On Fat Tuesday we make a big pancake dinner with green, gold, and purple pancakes. These colors of Mardi Gras are said to represent faith, power, and justice. Somehow, part of the tradition has been realizing we have no maple syrup and having to run out to the nearest store to pay an amazingly high price for a massive jug of syrup!

Ash Wednesday

On Ash Wednesday we go to Mass as early as possible and obtain the imposition of ashes on our foreheads in the shape of the cross. As the priest imposes the ashes on us he reminds us, “remember you are dust and unto dust you shall return.” With those sobering words we go back home and begin our Lenten fasts.

During Lent

During the 40 days of Lent we have many observances that we, as a family, have taken on. These observances include:

  • Utilizing either the Jesus Tree, Candles, or some other item to symbolically mark each day during Lent. This year we have a Catholic All Year subscription so we have both a thick card stock with days remaining in Lent that the kids can put a sticker on each day and we also have a crown of thorns with 40 toothpicks (thorns) in it that the kids can pull a thorn from each day.
  • Setting out the bean jar for every good deed done that then turns into jelly beans on Easter Sunday
  • Changing the altar linens on our home altar (purple, red, and white linens are on hand as applicable throughout the season)
  • Scheduling a Lenten retreat for us to individually get away on a Friday or Saturday to the local monastery near us for Confession, Mass, Prayer, Adoration and Reflection
  • Observing the Stations of the Cross on Fridays throughout Lent
  • Watching Les Miserables (we usually have at least one musical per season in our household)
  • Watching Rick Steves’ European Easter
  • Coloring Easter Eggs or carving Pysanky Eggs

Palm Sunday

Palm Sunday is the Sunday prior to Easter Sunday. On this day we go to Mass, obtain blessed palm fronds that we craft into crosses, and participate in the reenactment of Christ’s triumphant arrival in Jerusalem (days before he was crucified). In the past we have made a wreath or other greenery for our door and we always, always, celebrate Palm Sunday with ice cream sundaes.

Holy Week through Easter Sunday

Holy Week is the week between Palm Sunday and Easter and is observed with special solemnity as a time of devotion to the Passion of Jesus Christ. We spend a lot of time at the monastery or local parish during the week and more time in our home chapel.

The observances during this week include:

  • Listening to a podcast or DVD of the Tre Ores (The Three Hours’ Agony)
  • Tenebrae Service on Holy Wednesday (at home or at a parish)
  • Maundy Thursday Mass and the washing of the feet (at home or at a parish)
  • Good Friday Service and the adoration of the cross (at home or at a parish)
  • Holy Saturday and the Easter Vigil at the local monastery
  • Easter Sunday Mass with an Easter egg hunt for the kids, unwrapping of their Easter baskets, and having a special dinner with some of our favorite Irish fare!
  • Changing the altar linens on our home altar to white and putting out imagery of Christ victorious over death

Have a Holy Lent and a Blessed Easter!


Marking The Year

Marking The Year: The Traditions That Sustain Us

As you read through the blog posts here on Pickles and Bacon you will find a that there are many traditions we adhere to in our household. These traditions act as an anchor throughout the year, designating the seasons and pulling us through the year more intentionally. These traditions mark the year for us as a family.

Marking the year is simply recognizing the daily, weekly and monthly observances related to feast days and celebrations within the Catholic Church, birthdays and anniversaries within the family, and seasonal cultural celebrations. As we do this we are drawn to look forward in anticipation to the traditions that have sustained us throughout our lives and develop fond memories of times spent together, whether it be in a dimly lit chapel with incense swirling and monastic chant or in our living room unwrapping presents from under the tree to Christmas melodies.

As a family we have even created a Shutterfly photo book outlining the traditions our particular family adheres to, with pictures from past observances to capture the memories of those times. The photo book is used as a compendium to our family calendar to help us remember and sustain the traditions that have been engraved in our hearts.

To learn more about the traditions that sustain us, search the site for the tag “traditions.”


Building Community

Building Community

“It takes a village to raise a child,” right? We’ve all heard the African proverb, whether relating it directly to raising a child or otherwise. However, in today’s culture we scarcely find a consistent villager let alone a whole village!

This proved to be the case for us when after college we moved out of state leaving behind the initial community we had forged in our first years as a young married couple. After a few hops between states as we sought to find a place to take root, we once again began that work of building out our community.

The loss of community can be quite devastating. The relationships you relied on can significantly change in the blink of an eye. To have community, true community, is to not only have digital connections but to also have geographically close friends whom you can rely on. It’s about having mutual connections to support each other as you navigate life, raise children, and to give each other the much needed reprieve in often busy, chaotic, and stressful lives.

In our experience the foundation of community has been through shared mutual interests. When seeking to build community we have followed the steps below to guide us:

Plan

If you know something is on the horizon that will change your community life, such as you’re planning to make a move, first consider the impact. Consider whether the change will improve your community life overall or if it will it be detrimental. If its going to be detrimental, is the change necessary? If it is, then plan ahead and get engaged, for example, with local groups or individuals who have shared interests. Social media helps a great deal here because you can begin connecting with other communities ahead of time to get a sense of what opportunities exist for “plugging in.”

Fortunately, for us, our last move we had a couple of connections in the area already through mutual shared interests. When moving that was immensely helpful because they helped organize people to assist with unloading our moving truck, they brought us food when we arrived, and they actively checked in on us early on while we were settling in. We quickly became friends with these individuals through this experience and have since only strengthened those bonds.

Get Involved

Get out and get involved with the local community by volunteering or joining local shared interest groups, whether it’s a gardening club, an exercise club, a hiking group, or a local church. For us, we are Traditional Latin Mass (TLM) Catholics, so when getting involved in the community we looked for TLM parishes and were able to connect with families of similar age groups. Because of the array of TLM communities and traditional monasteries in our area we were able to connect not only with the chapel we attend weekly, but also with other TLM communities and monastic communities. This has helped us find our “place” in the community and gave us a diverse resource pool to access, including sourcing us when we recently sought a “Mothers’ Helper” to assist us around the house during the week.

Host Events/Groups

Beyond getting involved with already existing local shared interest groups, think about what interests you have and what you could offer others. The interests may overlap with existing groups or events and from there you can share an invite with that audience. Or your interest may be a niche interest. If so, that gives you the opportunity to offer something new to the community. When thinking about where to post flyers about your event, think about places where you are most comfortable and where you think you’d connect well with others in that community.

If you were able to connect with other families in the area through getting involved (the previous step) you could then also host events for those individuals/families to gather together. Offer up your home for a girls’ night or guys’ night, crafting, seasonal holiday events, or play dates. Outside the home offer up outings for fall cleanups, going to the park, playground, museum or brewery. Cast a wide net and don’t be discouraged if everyone cannot make it.

In the past I have hosted a monthly hiking group and as a family we have hosted book clubs, girls’ nights, countless playdates, and celebrations for anything – including annual Halloween movie-a-thons and a “Pie Friendsgiving” event for our friends where we all brought pie to share the week prior to Thanksgiving. Any event can bring you together with community if you find a way to celebrate it!

Next Steps to Consider

  • List out all your interests, even the most benign mundane crazy niche interests. Get them written down.
  • Think about the local volunteer opportunities, groups, or events that correspond to your interest. You can check social media or any number of local meetups, coffee shops, parishes, etc for information on local groups as well.
  • Consider if you would like to host events or groups related to your interests. If so, consider:
    • Which interests you want to pursue first. If you have various interests, prioritize them and start small with one or two as your focus
    • Decide what the format or agenda of the event or group would be
    • Decide where the group would meet
    • Decide on your target audience (young families? fathers? mothers? Catholics?)
    • Offer enticements (cocktails, coffee, tea, an activity)
    • Decide on a cadence for meeting
    • Promote your new event or group online, with your social network, at coffee shops or libraries, or at your parish!

Some Examples of Flyers