Brunch with Sophia and Brigid

ForglP1030339 a long time I’d been hoping to keep St. Brigid’s Day with some kitchen activity; I even programmed the idea into my online calendar and every year toward the end of January the e-mail reminder arrived, “If it’s not a fasting day, make Irish food.” As the day came and went year after year, always on the eve of a major feast of the Orthodox Church, there was never time or energy to enact my plan. Until this year.gl P1030341

I had invited my goddaughter Sophia for a birthday brunch on February 1st, and when I started planning the menu I realized that we could remember St. Brigid at the same time and have an Irish theme to the food.

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St. Brigid’s Oaten Bread would be the center of the spread, and I found many recipes for it online,  all  identical. I added a few more menu items imitating an “Irish Breakfast,” which I know was not perfectly authentic, but we relished the bread and everything else, warmed by a good fire in the stove and drinking Irish Breakfast tea to boot.

Next year I might incorporate more of the Celtic traditions surrounding St. Brigid, including the fact that February 1st is considered Celtic Spring, and the custom of not bringing snowdrop flowers into the house until that day. From Heather’s comment on my snowdrop post, and from other sources, I learned more about the saint and the season just after my party. I didn’t even think to bring snowdrops into the house on that Celtic spring day, because I had so many flowers left from our house blessing the week before.

glP1030347Confession: I actually did alter the bread recipe a bit, partly because I had an egg yolk left over from making these Candied Espresso Walnuts (a food that would have been strange to St. Brigid). I thought she would have thought it natural to use the extra yolk in the bread, because a farm girl like her would not waste it. And she would not blink an eye when she saw me adding an extra tablespoon of butter; I know this because more than one story about her reveals her appreciation of this wonderful food. Sophia and I blessed our Brigid’s bread by spreading extra butter on our thick slices.

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The next day after St. Brigid’s we would commemorate the Presentation of Christ in the Temple, which is also called Candlemas because we bless candles. This year our rector mentioned Groundhog Day and its marking of shadows. He noted that because we came to church, we ourselves saw no shadows, only the Light of Christ shining in the world.

I like what Macrina Lewis wrote recently about these days and others through the church year:

…many of our major Christian feasts hearken back with echoes through prior centuries to pre-Christian religious and cultural celebrations, often tied closely to the earth and to the earthly rhythms of human life: birth, death, harvest, preparation, feasting. In the illuminating glory of the saBrigid2ints’ lives and the liturgical expression of the church, these feasts, these divine seasons, have been revealed in their fullness, elucidated and offered as a way for each of us to personally participate in their mysteries directly. What was formerly in shadow…has been illumined with the knowledge of faith and the fullness of God’s presence.

Thinking about those earthly rhythms, I have to say that the darkness of January did not get me down this year as it has tended to do in recent years, and I wonder why… Is it because I have so much work to do? Just watching the birds through the window as they explore my new garden must elevate my mood. Certainly being part of a worshiping community, right here in my house, keeps the gloom at the level of something “out there” that we don’t have to partake of; we worked joyfully to spiff up the house and cook a meal together for the occasion of our house blessing last week. The skies have featured rain or wind, which is not the kind of weather that leads to a prohibition of wood fires, and now three of us in one house both appreciate and even build fires almost every day.

I’ve continued to sorrow and to grieve the loss of my husband, but in sharper, briefer episodes than the kind of depression that can come from lack of sunlight. The sadness often comes over me when I’m standing in church, as sitting in my Father’s lap, and He soon comforts me by making me feel all the love and loveliness in His house. Into the darkness of a hurting and wintry world, Jesus Christ shines warm and bright.

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14 thoughts on “Brunch with Sophia and Brigid

  1. This is a lovely idea, and one I might think about in the future….I was surprised with my Ancestry DNA results because they said I had 30%Irish DNA….I knew I had a lot of Scottish ancestors but not Irish. And then I realized the south eastern Scottish ancestors I had probably had Irish DNA themselves. (Ferguson). I certainly love the music from these places. But I love all manner of music and that’s partly how I met my husband, through my love of Hungarian folk music which friends introduced me to….I am glad to hear you are so well supported but I understand about the sorrow that washes over one. It becomes less as time passes, but I still have these moments, even after eight years. Be well, dear Gretchen.

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  2. You are creative in celebrating St. Bridgid and I was struck with how much I do not know. In my recent conversion to Catholicism, I took St. Bridgid as my patron saint. This post was meaningful to me. Next year I will honor her in a way similar to the way in which you did, good butter and a special Irish bread.

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  3. I love this post! Thank you for writing about Saint Brigid and this tradition. My little one will (God willing) be received into the church later this year and Saint Brigid is who my husband chose as her patron. Jane Meyer sent us an autographed copy of her lovely book which we all love. Your words about how you are experiencing grief are incredibly powerful.

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  4. The food looks lovely and delicious! In accordance with Celtic spring, temps here are downright balmy! The wood stove has been cold for more than a week but I’m not complaining, Gretchen. The ashes will be cleaned out today and wood laid in prep for the next storm. Whenever it arrives, I want to be ready.

    St. B is right…butter is always a good idea.

    I’ve amended my quote “God has a plan” to “God has a plan, I wish He’d share.” His timing isn’t mine so I fall back on wait is also a verb.

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  5. I love reading about this. It makes me happy. I also enjoy seeing your warm home and seeing the food you cook. I have been running to and fro so much, I have been reading your posts on my phone, and I am not very good at doing comments there, so I feel like I have neglected you. But when I am sitting in a doctor’s office or some of the places I have had to be lately, it is so comforting to sit and read your posts. I wanted you to know that. They really give me strength. Have a lovely Thursday.

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  6. This is such a beautiful post in so many ways. I truly appreciate all of it. Did not know about St. Brigid nor the Celtic Spring, which idea I love; maybe it’s the bit of Irish running in my veins. The feast of the Presentation on Feb 2 is special for me as Anna is my Name Day saint, so now I have even more reasons to celebrate February 1, 2 and 3 with thanksgivings and joy. The Macrina Lewis quote is wonderful . . . all that light shining through. Thank you for the blessing of your own words too, and putting this all together in such a lovely way.

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  7. Wonderful post. I always find your observations and thoughts so uplifting, and most the time I learn something new, too! Before this post I had heard of St. Brigid before but didn’t know much about her.

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    1. I actually like to give them more time in the oven than the recipe calls for to make sure they are good and dry, even though reviewers say it’s not necessary, because they will crisp up as they cool.

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  8. I think, as time goes by, I allow myself to look forward to new adventures. It no longer feels disloyal to my husband, who is having the adventure to beat all adventures! Perhaps you’re feeling a little of this, too? You are creating a sanctuary, not only for yourself, but for those who come to visit. I love the cozy fire!

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  9. Oh, I love the end of this post! You are such a comfort and encouragement, GJ. Not just to know that you yourself are not suffering too much in grief, but also to see a wife pass through these times with God’s help and the support of church and friends. It is the way it should be — not easy, but blessed. That last loaf of bread is lovely.

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