17 December 2013

Christmas in Ireland

I have very little Irish in me, but I channeled what I have on a cold, Sunday afternoon to make an Irish Basket o' Greens.  My friend, Donna, and I went to Southern Exposure, a herb farm outside of Battle Creek, for a delightful afternoon of eating good food and making a basket o' greens.

Lunch consisted of an authentic 18th Century Irish meal.  We had a stew made with tender beef, carrots and tiny potatoes served over mashed potatoes, a salad of shredded carrots, and a slice of apple pie with Irish cheese.  It was delicious.  I wonder if my great grandmother, Katherine McGee Watt, ever made Irish stew.

Next, was the making of the basket.  The Basket o' Greens represented an Irish greeting and is meant to be placed at your doorstep.  Southern Exposure does a wonderful job of explaining the materials used and their meaning.  The greens and materials selected had specific meanings to the Irish:

  • Yellow twig dogwood was thought to turn yellow upon the birth of Christ.
  • Holly leaves were believed to have curled on the birth of Christ and the red berries represented the blood of Christ.
  • Fresh lemon leaves were used in Ireland to cradle fruit, which during the holidays was a treat,
  • Boxwood was used throughout the United Kingdom as an evergreen.  It was used by the early churches and garland was made with it,
  • Red Velvet Bow represented the coming of Christ,
  • 3 apples represented the Trinity-Holy Father, Son and Holy Spirit.
My basket may not be an Irish masterpiece, but I enjoyed making it and it is waiting to welcome guests to my home.

As the Irish say, "Nollaig Shona Duit" or Merry Christmas!

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