Living in Season
The official newsletter of the School of the Seasons
December 31, 2004
New Year's Eve
- My Season: Fresh Start
- January Calendar Up!
- Living in Season: New Year's Feasts
- New Offering: Leaves from the Tree of Time, a Calendar Companion
- New Offering: Spring Correspondence Course Online
- Next Slow Time Class Begins January 10
- Signs of the Season: Is It Spring Yet?
- Holiday Packet: Candlemas
- Subscribe - Unsubscribe
Welcome to my periodical newsletter featuring ideas for bringing the beauty of the current season into your life. If you enjoy this newsletter, please forward it.
If a friend send you this newsletter, welcome! You can subscribe for free at my website: www.schooloftheseasons.com or by sending an email to:
We never rent, sell or give away subscriber information.
My Season: Fresh Start
I'm still on vacation so this newsletter is still shorter than usual. But I wanted to nudge you gently towards doing something special for yourself on New Year's Day, plus I wanted to introduce some new ideas that I've been incubating.
Speaking of things sprouting, one of the guests at my solstice party brought a dish full of crocus bulbs sitting on gravel and I've been adding water to just below the bottom of the bulbs for the past two weeks. In the past few days, the white shoots that were already apparent have plumped up and gotten just the faintest tinge of green at the tips.
May you see signs of new growth in your life,
Living in Season: New Year's Feasts
Everything you do on New Year's Day has a symbolic or magical significance, so it's no surprise that food is important.No matter when New Year's Day occurs (at Rosh Hashanah in September, Chinese New Year in January, Persian New Year at the spring equinox), special food items are served that represent health, prosperity, sweetness and luck for the year ahead.
In Japan, the traditional food for New Year's Day includes mochi (round balls of rice) and mirror cakes (the balls flattened to the shape of a mirror) which are placed on altars as offerings to the gods (along with an orange for longevity) and given to relatives and friends as tokens of divine blessings for the year.
The Romans used to give friends a glass jar full of dates and dried figs in honey, along with a bay leaf branch so the coming year would be sweet and full of good fortune. Neapolitans still wrap dried figs in laurel leaves and exchange them as a kind of insurance of abundance for the coming year. They also make confections of caramelized dough and tiny almond pieces which are eaten over a period of days. Lentils, raisins and oranges are traditional New Year's foods in Italy where they symbolize riches, good luck and the promise of love.
In many parts of Italy, the traditional New Year's Day lunch has lasagna as one of its courses. The Piedmontese eat little grains of rice which represent money. The traditional Umbrian New Years cake, made of almonds, sugar and egg whites, is shaped like a coiled snake, possibly to represent the way snakes shed their skin to renew themselves, just as one year passes into another. Another sweet, Chiacchiere, is made of tiny balls of dough that look exactly like little sweet lentils, then drizzled with honey so the year will be sweet.
In the American South, black-eyed peas are usually served on New Year's Day, apparently because they resemble coins. In Austria, the pig is the symbol of good luck so a suckling pig might be the main course. The table is also decorated with little candy pigs made of marzipan, chocolate, maple sugar, fudge or cookie dough and dessert might be green peppermint ice cream, to represent the good luck of the four leaf clover.
I usually serve one of my favorite recipes from the Moosewood Restaurant's Low-Fat Favorites on New Year's day because it contains lentils, which look like little coins, and artichoke hearts which represent richness to me. I buy the pasta that looks like little wheels to symbolize the turning of the wheel of the year. One reason I love Moosewood recipes is that they're designed to make cooking as easy as possible. If you simply follow the recipe, it takes you along step-by-step so that your time in the kitchen is efficient and relaxed.
1 cup dry red lentils (3 cups cooked)
1 bay leaf
3 cups water
1 tsp olive oil
2 cups diced onions
2 large garlic gloves, pressed or minced
2 tsp ground cumin
1 tsp ground coriander
2 T fresh lemon juice
2 cups canned tomatoes, chopped (18-oz can)
1-1/2 cups quartered artichoke hearts (1 15 oz can)
1/4 t crushed red pepper flakes
1 pound pasta (farfalle, rotini or spirali)
salt and ground black pepper to taste
crumbled feta cheese (optional)
Bring the lentils, bay leaf and water to a boil. Lower the heat, cover and simmer for 15 to 20 minutes, or until the lentils are tender.
While the lentils cook, heat the olive oil in a separate pan. Add the onions and saute for about 5 minutes or until golden. Add the garlic and spices and cook for 2 minutes, stirring frequently. Add the lemon juice, tomatoes (reserve the liquid), artichoke hearts and crushed red pepper and simmer on low heat for about 10 minutes. Drain the cooked lentils (reserve the liquid) and add the lentils to the tomato/artichoke mixture. Simmer for 10 minutes more, adding the reserved liquid if the sauce seems dry.
Meanwhile bring a large pot of water to boil and cook the pasta until al dente. Drain the pasta and transfer it to a serving bowl. Top with the lentil/artichoke sauce, add salt and pepper to taste and sprinkle with feta cheese, if you like. The whole thing takes about 40 minutes and serves 4 to 6 people.
If you don't want to make food the focus of your New Year's ritual, consider treating yourself with something else that represents abundance. Perhaps it could be the gift of a long walk with a friend, the purchase of a new book or the indulgence of a bubble bath.
I'm assuming you want prosperity in your life but perhaps you are yearning for another quality altogether (serenity, love, good health). If so, consider how to represent that quality with either food or another activity that will set the symbolic tone for 2005.
Field, Carol, Celebrating Italy, William Morrow
MacDonald, Margaret Red, The Folklore of World Holidays, Gale Research 1992
Moosewood Collective, Moosewood Restaurant Low-Fat Favorites, Vegetable Kingdom 1996
Moosewood Collective, Moosewood Celebrates, 2004
This is the latest of the wonderful line of cookbooks from Moosewood and I suspect it contains some wonderful ideas for New Year's feasts but since I don't own a copy I couldn't check.
New Offering: Leaves from the Tree of Time: a Calendar Companion
This is a graceful way to incorporate spirit and seasons into your life. Use it along with your usual planning tools and calendar to help you:
- Slow time down
- Consult your soul while creating your schedule
- Make time for what's truly important in your life
- Move in rhythm with the seasons and the moon
Every week for 52 weeks you will receive a brief email with a reflection on the qualities of the present time period and one suggestion, task or question that you can savor throughout the week.
Start whenever you like. When you order the Calendar Companion, you will receive the next week's calendar companion, along with an introductory email.
$20 for a year's worth of gentle reminders to help you stay aligned with natural rhythms. Click here to order or to see a sample reflection.
New Offering: Spring Correspondence Course Online
For some time, I've been meaning to revise the correspondence course which is now almost 14 years old, but it's been hard to motivate myself to do so as it means virtually starting over. The original electronic files are lost in the dreams of computers past. Finally, after enjoying the format of the online Slow Time class, I decided that I would offer Spring as a twelve-week online course. This will help me produce new materials and eventually (next spring) you'll be able to order the correspondence course via email.
In this twelve week class, we'll explore a different topic every week. Your homework assignments will include tasks that help you interact with the natural world where you live, create a personal vision for the year, affirm your sacred intention for your life, adopt a magical name, celebrate a spring feast and create Brigid's crosses and magical Easter eggs. You will personalize the course so that it works for you and report on your activities every week in a private list serve.
Enrollment is limited to eight students and the cost is $120 for twelve weeks. The course begins the last week in January with an assignment for a private ritual of dedication on Candlemas/Imbolc. To enjoy all the benefits of the course, you should be able to devote at least three hours a week to your studies, which includes reading the weekly lesson, carrying out an activity and posting to the list serve.
To order,click here.
Next Slow Time Class starts January 10
"Time is a gentleman," said French writer Louis Servan-Shreiber who learned to befriend time rather than fight it. That's the goal of this twelve-week course which will you develop a more satisfying relationship with time.
- Are you starved for more time?
- Do you spend your waking hours running like a pet hamster on a revolving wheel of obligations and tasks?
- Does your schedule reflect your priorities and values?
- Are you living on "time credit," accumulating materials and information for projects and trips you will do someday "when you have more time"?
Over twelve weeks, through a series of exercises and steps, you will explore and transform your relationship with time, moving from seconds, through hours, days, weeks, moons, months, seasons, years and finally the spacious arena of the night skies. Time will become your friend and ally rather than an adversary. Instead of constriction and panic, you will experience abundance and serenity.
The course consists of twelve weekly lessons, and homework assignments you can use to explore the concepts in your own life, plus enrollment in a private email list on which you can post your homework and your questions for discussion and feedback. The format is new but I've been teaching this material for years in the correspondence course and workshops on time and the seasons.
The course starts on the new moon of January 10 and costs $150. Enrollment is limited to 8 students and some places are already reserved for people who have been on the waiting list for several months. This may be the last time I will offer the Slow Time class in this format. I am working on a book proposal and I hope it will be available in either print or e-book form by the fall.
To register and for more information, click here.
Signs of the Season
I just came back from a walk with the two dogs (my old mutt, Chester, and my daughter's young Chihuahua) At our first stop, while the dogs were sniffing around, I noticed a stick with green buds poking out of the top and side that someone had torn off a bush and left in the dirt. Curious about its origin, I spent the rest of the walk looking for signs of spring and this is what I found. Rhododendron bushes with lots of fat buds (they always remind me of candles) and some fuzzy buds on what looked like a magnolia. What really surprised me were the flowers. In bloom on my block were calendulas, feverfew, roses, cherry trees, azaleas, camellias, and even a few late dahlias. It's been unseasonably warm here, with more sun than usual, but it was a nice reminder that the seasons are flexible and that sometimes winter is not what it seems.
I love getting a glimpse of the season in so many different places. Send me the signs of the season where you live, and I will post them here.
Holiday Packet: Candlemas
It's time to order the print version of the Candlemas packet if you want to make sure you receive it before February 1st. This illustrated, 45 page portfolio contains
- ancient holiday customs of Candlemas, Imbolc, Groundhogs Day, Brigid, Sementiva, St. Agnes
- more rowdy customs from the spring full moon festivals of Lupercalia, Purim, Valentines Day and Mardi Gras
- instructions for creating candles & Brigid's crosses
- recipes for navettes, Hamantaschen, blinis, nun's ribbons, Agatha's breasts, jelly doughnuts and other rich pastries of the season
- lore of the dandelion & the snowdrop
- songs and poems
It is available in an email version for $7 (sent within 24 hours) or via snail mail for $11 (please allow 10 days for delivery). Order here.
Copyright ©Waverly Fitzgerald 2004.
All rights reserved. You may reprint material from Living in Season in other electronic or print publications as long as you credit me and provide a link to: http://www.schooloftheseasons.com. Please send me a copy of the publication.
Getting On and Off the List
To subscribe, send an email to:
To unsubscribe, send an email to:
ARCHIVES OF PAST NEWSLETTERS