So I had this really grandiose plan of making this Pentecost Sunday a true blue (red) celebration—something I could stake a claim on in the family calendar and have people over and really celebrate the beauty of our Catholic/Christian faith. I had been thinking about it for months, because I wanted a holiday that was specifically always celebrated at the De Lara house…we are the “newlyweds” and we have just one almost grown kid, so we don’t merit high enough on the family scale to claim a “major” holiday. HA HA HA…who was I kidding? My ridiculous schedule, my always-under-construction house, my procrastinating personality, and my mediocre talent all conspired against me. Not to mention, we had a tragic week, so no one felt much like partying anyway.
I painstakingly researched international celebrations for this feast in hopes of adopting some new traditions for my family. Pentecost, although a very major holiday, is not as popular as it should be—my cynical side thinks this is because there is nothing to secularize, “consumerize”, and sell to the masses. My son and I started celebrating Christmas Around the World about 10 years ago, before we met my husband, and we typically “adopt a culture” during the Christmas season and celebrate in their traditional manner with decorations, games, and foods (as closely as possible, anyway, and in addition to our own regular traditions). I thought perhaps we can do a condensed version of this for Pentecost, taking little things here and there and coming up with a really nice celebration that we can share with our family and friends. It would be new and different and completely alien to most because much of our circle is not Catholic and many of them have no idea what the Pentecost is. I know many Protestant denominations do celebrate it, but we never mentioned it at all in the church I grew up in.
Some of the ideas I had were:
- Shocking the household awake with trumpet music, as a sort of a play on the French tradition of using trumpets during the Divine Service (our parish doesn’t usually use trumpets, but there is no reason we couldn’t have them at home).
- Having a morning prayer outside in our really great back yard and walking through the morning dew (The “Veni Sancte Spiritus” sequence at The Pentecost Mass includes the phrase “Heal our wounds, our strength renew, on our dryness pour thy dew.”) as per the English custom.
- Mass all decked out in the liturgical color red.
- Berry and peach picking, and then sharing the wealth with neighbors or, even better, the shelter. Pentecost is a Jewish holiday as well, commemorating the birthday of the Jewish faith when God gave the law to Moses on Mount Sinai. It marks the beginning of the Feast of Shavuot, or Feast of Weeks, and the beginning of the harvest season. It is obligatory to take special care of the poor during this time, as well. It was a nice sunny and breezy day, so a picnic lunch would have been perfect after our harvesting.
- Dinner was going to be spaghetti with red sauce (because I do this really, really well, or else carne asada con salsa rojo—always a Mexican staple at parties) on a backyard tablescape decked out with ferns and strewn with rose petals, with paper doves hanging from the roof of the porch. It is a Polish and German custom to bring green branches and plants inside for this Feast in hopes that the Holy Spirit will enter the home and bring life and blessings and it is an Italian custom to scatter rose petals over the congregation to symbolize the tongues of fire, and also to hang paper doves from the ceiling.
- No birthday celebration is complete without a birthday cake, so I was going to have a red velvet cake (which is always MY birthday cake, too) and top it with 13 candles to symbolize the 12 apostles and Mary (because 120+ for all of the disciples present would have been a fire hazard).
- Finally, I was going to take a leaf out of Kendra’s book and have a backyard bonfire, while the kids do another English custom of cheese wheel rolling race. We don’t have a hill like Gloucester, but we do have a nice enough incline to allow the laws of physics to create a rollicking good (and mostly safe) time. Think of that opening scene of Little House on the Prairie.
Womp womp womp………I got as far as wearing red at Mass. And walking in the dew.
Our backyard patio oasis is still under construction, and this construction takes up almost all of our free time. It is a serious to-do with handmade cobblestones for the floor, a giant brick oven, a 20 x 25 pavilion—the works. No parties just yet. No fire pit. No picnic tables. We are now officially two months behind schedule on this renovation…but when it is done, I will have mind-blowing before and after pics for you.
I did make red velvet cupcakes because I seem to have lost one of my cake pans. Only I had just two bottles of food coloring, so they are more like brick red velvet cakes. *sigh*
Also…due to my week, I neglected to go grocery shopping, so instead of spaghetti with red sauce we had penne with vodka sauce—from a jar! *bigger sigh*
Jack abandoned us for a Memorial Day weekend crab-boil at his cousin’s, so hubby and I, along with my drop-by-the-house-at-random brother-in-law, celebrated by our lonesome.
NEXT year, next year will be awesome.
I did have an inspiration and an epiphany, though…which I will post about later this week. And Mass was super awesome…we went to Spanish Mass at St. Ann’s and the music there never disappoints. So, despite my lack of a formal reception and celebration, the Holy Spirit was (is) with us anyway, and I suppose that is all that really matters.