Tag Archive | tradition

Repost: Sexism Sucks for Everybody, Science Confirms

Last week the Smithsonian Magazine reported on a fascinating study about sexism.  In the study researchers discovered toxicity in traditional ideas of masculinity.  It is eye-opening stuff which I hope will help you in your life and your relationships. Author: Ben Panko.

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Donald Trump is a classic example of a man who needs to feel strong and more powerful than everyone else at all times in order to feel worthwhile as a person.

“You don’t need science to tell you it sucks to be a woman in a sexist society. While American culture may have progressed since the time of Mad Men, women today inevitably still encounter those who would demean their abilities, downplay their accomplishments or treat them as sex objects. In Sweden, women can even call in to a “mansplaining hotline” to report their experiences of having things condescendingly explained to them in the workplace.

But being sexist, it turns out, also sucks for the men themselves. That’s the conclusion of a meta-analysis published today in the Journal of Counseling Psychology that aggregates the results of nearly 80 separate studies on masculine norms and mental health over 11 years. The meta-analysis, which involved almost 20,000 men in total, found that men who adhered to these norms not only harmed the women around them—they also exhibited significantly worse social functioning and psychological health.

Repost: Czech Kolaches Recipe

kolaches dorothy kusakI grew up with Czech Kolaches.  Very popular across the midwest United States they are probably the best reason to travel to Nebraska, Iowa, Kansas, and other midwestern states.

Of course I haven’t been able to find them anywhere else.  So I was thrilled to find this recipe on facebook courtesy Dorothy Husak.

Czech Kolaches.
Recipe makes 56
Ingredients
2 cups whole milk
3/4 cup butter, cut up
3/4 cup shortening, cut up
1/2 cup sugar
1/2 teaspoon salt
2 eggs, lightly beaten
6 cups all-purpose flour
2 packages active dry yeast envelopes
Desired filling (see below)
Powdered Sugar Icing (see below)

Directions

In a large saucepan, heat and stir milk, butter, shortening, sugar and salt just until warm (120 degreesF to 130 degrees F) and butter and shortening almost melt. Set aside and cool for 5 minutes. Stir in eggs.
In a large mixing bowl, combine 3 cups of the flour and the yeast. Add milk mixture. Beat with an electric mixer on low speed for 30 seconds or until combined. Beat on high speed for 3 minutes. Gradually add remaining flour, switching to a wooden spoon if necessary to stir in last amount of flour. (Dough will be very soft.) Cover bowl with plastic wrap and chill overnight.
Shape chilled dough into 1 1/2-inch balls. Place 2 inches apart on baking sheets lined with parchment paper. Cover; let rise in a warm place 30 minutes. Use your thumb or the back of a round measuring teaspoon to make a deep indentation in center of a few balls at a time. Spoon about 1 teaspoon filling into each indentation. Repeat with remaining balls and filling.
Bake one or two pans of kolaches at a time at 325 degrees for 12 to 15 minutes or until lightly golden on the bottoms. Immediately remove to racks; cool slightly. If you like, drizzle with icing before serving.

 

Poppy Seed Filling: In a coffee grinder or small food processor blend 3/4 cup (4 ounces) poppy seeds until fine. Set aside. In a small saucepan combine 1/2 cup milk, 1/3 cup sugar, 2 tablespoons butter, 1 tablespoon honey and a dash of salt. Cook and stir over medium heat until butter is melted. Remove from heat. In a small bowl, lightly beat 2 egg yolks. Gradually stir about half of the warm milk mixture into beaten yolks. Return the yolk mixture to milk mixture in saucepan and stir to combine. Cook and stir over medium heat just until mixture thickens and coats a spoon. Remove from heat. Stir in poppy seeds and 1/2 teaspoon lemon zest. Transfer to a bowl and chill, covered, for at least 2 hours or up to 2 days. Makes 1 1/2 cups.
Raspberry Filling: In a medium saucepan, combine 2 cups frozen raspberries, 3/4 cup sugar, 2 tablespoons water, 1 tablespoon cornstarch and 1 teaspoon lemon juice. Cook and stir over medium heat until thickened and bubbly. Cook and stir for 2 minutes more. Transfer to a bowl and chill, covered, for at least 2 hours or up to 2 days. Makes 1 1/2 cups.
Apricot Filling: In a medium saucepan, combine 1 1/2 cups chopped dried apricots and 1 1/2 cups apricot nectar. Cook and stir over medium-high heat until boiling. Reduce heat and simmer, covered, for 15 minutes. Remove from heat and stir in 1/4 teaspoon ground cinnamon. Cool slightly. Place in a blender and blend until smooth. (Mixture should be thicker than applesauce.) Transfer to a bowl and chill, covered, for several hours or up to 2 days. Makes 1 1/2 cup.
Powdered Sugar Icing: In a small bowl, combine 2 cups powdered sugar, 2 tablespoons milk and 1/2 teaspoon vanilla. Stir in additional milk, 1 teaspoon at a time, until icing reaches drizzling consistency. Makes 2/3 cup.
storage

Store unglazed kolaches in an airtight container at room temperature for up to 2 days, or freeze for up to 3 months.

From Resurrection Sunday to Easter: How Ancient German and Christian Celebrations Merged at Easter

Originally posted March 27th, 2012

 

From Resurrection Sunday to Easter: How Ancient German and Christian Celebrations Merged at Easter

Easter Sunday-for Christians around the world Easter is arguably the most important holiday in the Christian calendar. The message of Jesus’ act of self sacrifice by allowing himself to be crucified by the Romans as a zealous rebel to Roman authority, his preaching against the legalistic status quos of the time, and the literal or metaphorical resurrection of Jesus just days after his execution is all central to Christian belief. And yet American Christians refer to the commemorating festival associated with all of this by the name of the German goddess of spring and the dawn, Easter, also known as Ostara in High German.

Christians decorate eggs, hold sunrise services, wear new and typically pastel-colored clothing, decorate with spring flowers, and embrace Easter’s egg-laying messenger hare, all of which are part of how Germans have honored Easter/Ostara in the centuries and millennia before the Common Era. American Christians even use the German goddess’ name to refer to their holiday rather than referring to it by its proper nomer, Resurrection Sunday.

So how did this happen?

Diverse sources indicate that changes in the Church began in the 5th century Common Era (the same era as King Arthur in Britain and Bishop Patrick in England/Ireland) when Germanic tribes such as the Vandals, Visigoths, and others, in search of Roman prosperity, moved south and east into Roman lands, often seizing these territories from Roman control. The same Germanic warrior culture that produced the epic poem “Beowulf” infused these lands-just as previously the Germans and Celts had sought to adopt Roman culture and values in the centuries before. As Rome collapsed under these pressures, and the social pressures created by the oppressive policies of the elite over the vast majority of residents in the empire (seehttp://ancienthistory.about.com/cs/romefallarticles/a/fallofrome_2.htm for more on the 5th century Roman Empire), the Church found itself needing to change with the times. In “Christianizing the Germans, Militarizing the Church” athttp://atheism.about.com/b/2006/11/04/christianizing-the-germans-militarizing-the-church-book-notes-fighting-for-christendom.htm, Austin Cline explains how Christian leaders were forced to convey Christianity using native German values. Jesus became “The Lord of Victories,” and a “generous mead-giver.” Heaven was described as being similar to Valhalla, and so on. These are not terms that probably any of us have heard in modern churches, but those familiar with early English and German literature are certain to recognize the flavor of these declarations. Using these descriptions, Jesus ceases to be a part of his native Jewish culture and becomes a fellow German, someone members of each German tribe on either side of the Rhine could relate to.

But the process of Christianizing hardly came overnight. The German travel guide athttp://www.germany.co.za/christianisation.html details how slow and gradual this process was. Chlodwig (Clovis) of the Franks was the first German king baptized in 498 CE; his Catholic wife, princess Chrodechildis of Burgundy is believed to be largely behind his “conversion.” Later, in the 8th century CE, Karl der Grosse (Charlemagne) used Christianity as part of his visions of a united German empire. He first conquered Bavaria and Lombardy, and then attacked the Saxons of the north. In 800, Pope Leo III crowned him emperor, creating what became known was the Holy Roman Empire. Christianity was now the official religion of Karl’s empire.

In the three centuries between Chlodwig and Karl der Grosse, the Church adapted itself to native German culture, evolving and integrating German ideas and customs-just as the Church in Celtic societies needed to integrate Celtic culture. It is easy to see, in the light of this history, how the Church came to refer to its Resurrection Sunday by the name of the German goddess of spring. At first the German church, more likely than not, dovetailed Resurrection Sunday observances to the existing festivals for Ostara/Eastre celebrating spring, simply tacking on Christian elements to those services and rituals. This probably meant celebrating the festival when the Germans celebrated it-on or close to the vernal equinox. Later, as the Christian elements became more accepted, the celebration was moved to its “proper” date as required by the Council of Nicaea (325 CE): the first Sunday after the first full moon after the spring equinox (seehttp://catholicism.about.com/od/holydaysandholidays/f/Calculate_Date.htm), until finally the old references to Eastre/Ostara as a German goddess faded from memory. The two very distinct holidays and theologies became inseparable. Today, most Christians are fully unaware that most of observances for “Easter” they practice come from a far older German religious tradition. Easter/Ostara is evoked merely as the name of the holiday-without recognition for the goddess whose name is evoked each time.

Only recently have we come to recognize how these very different religious traditions merged. Christianity assimilated the Old Religion and, in true irony, therefore preserved it. Academic honesty requires us to recognize this history of religious joining and honor every choice-Christian or Old Religion-each individual makes for her/his own life. Likewise, it is my hope that Christians will honor the role that Jewish culture played in the early Christian church and strive to understand the beauty of Jewish society-independent of religious bias. Only by respectful learning of diverse cultures and traditions may we attain true harmony, respecting all and hating none for being different.

Reblog: History of Halloween

Merry Samhain everyone!  In honor of Samhain and Halloween, I am re-posting a lovely article I found this morning  by Benjamin Radford of Live Science about the history of Halloween.  Enjoy!

 

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Halloween is the season for little ghosts and goblins to take to the streets, asking for candy and scaring one another silly. Spooky stories are told around fires, scary movies appear in theaters and pumpkins are expertly (and not-so-expertly) carved into jack-o’-lanterns.

Amid all the commercialism, haunted houses and bogus warnings about razors in apples, the origins of Halloween are often overlooked. Yet Halloween is much more than just costumes and candy; in fact, the holiday has a rich and interesting history.
Samhain

Halloween, also known as All Hallows’ Eve, can be traced back about 2,000 years to a pre-Christian Celtic festival held around Nov. 1 called Samhain (pronounced “sah-win”), which means “summer’s end” in Gaelic, according to the Indo-European Etymological Dictionaries. [Related: 13 Halloween Superstitions & Traditions Explained]

Because ancient records are sparse and fragmentary, the exact nature of Samhain is not fully understood, but it was an annual communal meeting at the end of the harvest year, a time to gather resources for the winter months and bring animals back from the pastures. Samhain is also thought to have been a time of communing with the dead, according to folklorist John Santino.

“There was a belief that it was a day when spirits of the dead would cross over into the other world,” Santino told Live Science. Such moments of transition in the year have always been thought to be special and supernatural, he added.

Halloween provides a safe way to play with the concept of death, Santino said. People dress up as the living dead, and fake gravestones adorn front lawns — activities that wouldn’t be tolerated at other times of the year, he said.

But according to Nicholas Rogers, a history professor at York University in Toronto and author of “Halloween: From Pagan Ritual to Party Night” (Oxford University Press, 2003), “there is no hard evidence that Samhain was specifically devoted to the dead or to ancestor worship.

“According to the ancient sagas, Samhain was the time when tribal peoples paid tribute to their conquerors and when the sidh [ancient mounds] might reveal the magnificent palaces of the gods of the underworld,” Rogers wrote. Samhain was less about death or evil than about the changing of seasons and preparing for the dormancy (and rebirth) of nature as summer turned to winter, he said.

Though a direct connection between Halloween and Samhain has never been proven, many scholars believe that because All Saints’ Day (or All Hallows’ Mass, celebrated Nov. 1) and Samhain, are so close together on the calendar, they influenced each other and later combined into the celebration now called Halloween.
Costumes and trick-or-treating

The tradition of dressing in costumes and trick-or-treating may go back to the practice of “mumming” and “guising,” in which people would disguise themselves and go door-to-door, asking for food, Santino said. Early costumes were usually disguises, often woven out of straw, he said, and sometimes people wore costumes to perform in plays or skits.

The practice may also be related to the medieval custom of “souling” in Britain and Ireland, when poor people would knock on doors on Hallowmas (Nov. 1), asking for food in exchange for prayers for the dead.

Trick-or-treating didn’t start in the United States until World War II, but American kids were known to go out on Thanksgiving and ask for food — a practice known as Thanksgiving begging, Santino said.

“Mass solicitation rituals are pretty common, and are usually associated with winter holidays,” Santino said. While one tradition didn’t necessarily cause the others, they were “similar and parallel,” he said.
Tricks and games

These days, the “trick” part of the phrase “trick or treat” is mostly an empty threat, but pranks have long been a part of the holiday.

By the late 1800s, the tradition of playing tricks on Halloween was well established. In the United States and Canada, the pranks included tipping over outhouses, opening farmers’ gates and egging houses. But by the 1920s and ’30s, the celebrations more closely resembled an unruly block party, and the acts of vandalism got more serious.

Some people believe that because pranking was starting to get dangerous and out of hand, parents and town leaders began to encourage dressing up and trick-or-treating as a safe alternative to doing pranks, Santino said.

However, Halloween was as much a time for festivities and games as it was for playing tricks or asking for treats. Apples are associated with Halloween, both as a treat and in the game of bobbing for apples, a game that since the colonial era in America was used for fortune-telling. Legend has it that the first person to pluck an apple from the water-filled bucket without using his or her hands would be the first to marry, according to the book “Halloween and Commemorations of the Dead” (Chelsea House, 2009) by Roseanne Montillo.

Apples were also part of another form of marriage prophecy. According to legend, on Halloween (sometimes at the stroke of midnight), young women would peel an apple into one continuous strip and throw it over her shoulder. The apple skin would supposedly land in the shape of the first letter of her future husband’s name.

Another Halloween ritual involved looking in a mirror at midnight by candlelight, for a future husband’s face was said to appear. (A scary variation of this later became the “Bloody Mary” ritual familiar to many schoolgirls.) Like many such childhood games, it was likely done in fun, though at least some people took it seriously.
Christian/Irish influence

Some evangelical Christians have expressed concern that Halloween is somehow satanic because of its roots in pagan ritual. However, ancient Celts did not worship anything resembling the Christian devil and had no concept of it. In fact, the Samhain festival had long since vanished by the time the Catholic Church began persecuting witches in its search for satanic cabals. And, of course, black cats do not need to have any association with witchcraft to be considered evil — simply crossing their path is considered bad luck any time of year.

As for modern Halloween, Santino, writing in “American Folklore: An Encyclopedia” (Garland, 1996), noted that “Halloween beliefs and customs were brought to North America with the earliest Irish immigrants, then by the great waves of Irish immigrants fleeing the famines of the first half of the nineteenth century. Known in the North American continent since colonial days, by the middle of the twentieth century Halloween had become largely a children’s holiday.” Since that time, the holiday’s popularity increased dramatically as adults, communities and institutions (such as schools, campuses and commercial haunted houses) have embraced the event.

Through the ages, various supernatural entities — including fairies and witches — came to be associated with Halloween, and more than a century ago in Ireland, the event was said to be a time when spirits of the dead could return to their old haunting grounds. Dressing up as ghosts or witches became fashionable, though as the holiday became more widespread and more commercialized (and with the arrival of mass-manufactured costumes), the selection of disguises for kids and adults greatly expanded beyond monsters to include everything from superheroes to princesses to politicians.

Staff writer Tanya Lewis contributed to this article.

 

Chocolate and Vanilla Egg Crèmes: Brooklyn’s Best Kept Secret

One of the most enduring parts of my experience living in Brooklyn, New York for over four years is in food.  In that time, I was introduced to one of the most delicious beverages ever:  the egg cream.

 

Chocolate and Vanilla Egg Crèmes: Brooklyn’s Best Kept Secret

July, 2012

Go into a diner in Brooklyn and they are hard to miss! They are a Brooklyn tradition since the turn of the 20th century. They were a staple in drug store soda shops. What are they? Brooklyn’s best kept secret: egg crèmes!

What pray tell is an egg crème? A delicious, non-alcoholic soda you can make cheaply and easily in your own home. Dining out and they are not on the menu? Ask for one anyway. Most restaurants with a bar tender have the ingredients right there – they just may need the recipe from you. The Altoona, Pennsylvania Olive Garden recently made them for my dining party after I asked. The rest of my group was skeptical about this Brooklyn invention…that is, until it arrived and we each drank one!

Here’s what you need to make your own egg crème:

12 oz glass

Whole milk (or really indulge with a splash of half and half with your milk)

Seltzer soda water (club soda is more salty, but will work if you cannot find seltzer)

Fox’s U-Bet chocolate or vanilla syrup (Hershey’s can be substituted, but be aware that the Fox’s product is more of a semi-sweet chocolate and Hershey’s is more a milk chocolate that tastes sweeter and less bitter)

  1. Begin by pouring from 1/4th to 2/3rds of your glass with milk and/or milk and half and half.
  2. Add about one to three tablespoons of chocolate or vanilla syrup. The more syrup, the richer and sweeter the taste.
  3. Stir vigorously.
  4. Add seltzer to the top of the glass, tilting the glass to maximize the carbonated head. A thick head of about 2 inches is considered ideal.
  5. Stir vigorously.
  6. Drink immediately.

Some purists I know from Brooklyn say to stir only once and to make the dryer version with only 1/4th of the glass in milk. I personally love the richer, sweeter version created by using at least half a glass of milk and more syrup. You add more calories this way, but it’s a tastier soda.

Egg crèmes can make a great party drink. Simply mix the milk and syrup into a pitcher with a heavily chilled 1 liter or 2 liter bottle on ice on the table. Then ask guests to simply pour their milk/syrup in first and top with the seltzer. Those swizzle stick stirrers are great if you are serving egg crèmes this way. For a fancy touch, chocolate shavings make the perfect garnish. Simply set out a small dessert bowl of the shavings for your guests next to the egg crème ingredients.

Egg crèmes are the perfect balance between chocolate milk and regular sodas, giving you the best of both worlds. They are a delicious treat for your meal, your party, or just the end of a hard day.

So try the Brooklyn egg crème and discover what most Brooklynites have known for decades!

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