Since around 220 BC from 17th-23rd of December, a Roman festival has taken place called Saturnalia, honouring Saturn the god of the land and agriculture.
If you don’t know much about it you will be surprised to find there are some very familiar aspects to the celebration, as some elements are present in our modern-day Christmas festivities. The influence of this Roman festival is widespread throughout the western world.
Traditionally during mid-winter and at the Winter Solstice offerings were made to the gods. Usual work was abandoned and families and friends got together to feast, drink wine with honey whilst dressing the house with wreaths and ornaments in green and gold. Socialising and gift-giving abounded. Sound familiar?!
Known as ‘the best of times’, the celebration was also known for role reversals – those people who were normally kept as slaves by the Romans were given seats at the head of the table and served by their masters.
Many people still celebrate Saturnalia to this day. The ‘best of times’ certainly sounds good to me, although I have heard that part of the celebrations could involve naked singing… and well… it’s a bit chilly for things like that in Britain in December. I might put a scarf on and go carol singing instead! 🙂
How do you feel about Christmas jumpers? Like most things, they can be done ethically and responsibly…. or not.
Some people admit to throwing away their Christmas jumper from the previous year to get a new one every year, and they are notorious for having plasticky, glittery stuff all over them – we all know these are highly polluting both in their manufacturing process and if thrown away.
But we don’t need to be a scrooge about Christmas jumpers, there are good ways to join in the fun! Firstly, if you already have a Christmas jumper, resurrect it, don’t bin it! No one will care if you wear the same jumper every year.
If you want to buy one, try second-hand websites, there are loads at great prices, or if you want to buy new, look at the materials used and try to buy as ethically as possible.
Many schools have swap sessions for children’s Christmas jumpers which is great as they tend to grow out of them so quickly. Some forward-thinking groups are also doing swap days for adult-sized jumpers too, so we can all get our festive jumper fix.
If you don’t have one near you why not start one off? We would love to hear how you got on. Merry Christmas Jumper Day!
In our house, like many others, we don’t send many Christmas cards anymore. Just a small handful to our nearest and dearest, whereas a few years ago it would have been dozens.
Why is this? It’s because we feel split between wanting to let other people know that we are thinking of them, but also knowing about the environmental impact of manufacturing, sending, and disposing of the waste created by Christmas cards and decorations, it’s hard to reconcile.
At best cards can be recycled, but more often than not they end up in landfills because of glitter and foil that prevents recycling. Add to this the carbon imprint of being posted and it seems ironic to send a card to wish people a Happy New Year when the very act of sending the card just adds to the bleak forecast for our environment!
So what’s the best thing to do? Sending emails also increases our carbon footprint but is a better alternative. Or a Christmas phone call or letter, something personal like a small gift of food or a plant is a lovely thought.
If we do send a card, it’s good to reuse, make and upcycle rather than just buying new. And also it’s very important to consider if it can be recycled by the recipient after Christmas. When we receive cards we can save the pictures for craft projects through the year, such as making bookmarks and new cards, or just hang the nicest ones on the wall.
If we can deliver the cards by hand to local people rather than posting them that’s brilliant too. It’s a great excuse for a festive meet-up!
There are many more ways to wish our friends and family a Happy Christmas and protect the planet for many more Happy Christmases!
We went pumpkin picking at a huge pumpkin patch recently. A fairly new phenomenon here in the UK, but a long-standing tradition in America for many years, and one that is now rapidly gaining popularity here too.
It was mind-blowing to see the sheer number of pumpkins available and watching them piled high in wheelbarrows, but it made me wonder just how many people throw them out after carving them for Halloween.
According to the latest figures as a nation, we discard 18,000 tonnes of edible pumpkin into landfill sites every year – the equivalent of 1500 double-decker buses!
Fortunately, people are becoming more educated and aware of food waste and there is now a big push to encourage everyone to be thoughtful with what they do with their pumpkins to avoid them going to landfill.
If you are carving a pumpkin this year there are lots of delicious ideas and recipes for cooking the scooped out flesh and toasting the seeds. From soups to cakes and pies, there really is something for every taste. Any leftover pumpkin that is still fresh can often be donated to feed farm animals or to wildlife shelters. Or sections can be used as temporary bird feeders filled with fat and seeds. Pumpkin past its best can always be composted.
As we collectively become more responsible consumers it would be amazing if we could reduce the amount of pumpkin waste this year, and make the most of these marvelous veggies!
May Day is a significant day in the UK and around the world with a long and varied history in ancient, traditional, and modern calendars. It’s worth taking a little time this May Day to contemplate what it means to you, is it just a day off work (for many of us) or something more than this?
May Day marks the point between the Spring Equinox and Summer Solstice, known as Beltane and first celebrated by the Celts. Fire and fertility are at the core of this celebration, as the ancient Celts honoured the fertility of the soil and earth symbolised by the union of the god and goddess, and between humans too. It’s a celebration of life, love, and happiness.
Beltane is a perfect opportunity to look to the future, light a fire either literally or figuratively and decide what you want to ‘light your fire’ in the coming year. It’s a time to make affirmations and plans for the future. Beltane is an ideal time to start a new project. It is said that the veil is thin between this world and the faerie realm at Beltane so you can make a wish and an offering to the fae, and visualise it coming true.
May Day from the 19th Century is also a significant date as Labour Day, or International Worker’s Day, where the working classes and labourers are celebrated and their struggles acknowledged highlighted by a movement for the eight-hour working day and worker’s rights. It’s a good day to appreciate others and all the everyday things we use and consume, often without thinking, but in reality, we would not have any access to them had someone farmed, created, built them. However much we contribute as an individual we are very much reliant on the work of others for much of our existence.
So whatever you focus on, there is plenty to think about this May Day!
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