The Four Feasts
When our family began to observe the feasts of the liturgical calendar in 2012, it quickly became apparent that celebrating 2,000 years' worth of accumulated history was not just ambitious but impossible. Eventually the Four Feasts plan was hatched-- each season would be celebrated in its entirety on the natural markers of the passing of time, the two solstices and the two equinoxes. Happily, this made the observances not only more practical but also more meaningful, as following the cycle of the sun each year corresponds with following the cycle of the story of the Son through the liturgical year.
Wherever we are on or near those four dates, our family prepares and hosts a celebration (or "tellebration", with storytelling theater) for family and friends. Through seasonal food, songs, music, stories, costumes, decorations, bonfires, and dance, we learn and share a conversation about the four cycles of life-- natural, liturgical, sanctoral, and human. These gatherings have created some of the fondest family memories of the year. Here are a few highlights of the first year of the Kirkos Caravan's Four Feasts and our exploration of the four seasons.
Winter Feast 2012
With so many wonderful global traditions during Advent and Christmas, it was a challenge to narrow the options down. We chose December 8th to celebrate the Feast of St. Nicholas (6th), the Immaculate Conception (8th), and Santa Lucia (8th). We feasted on Christmas-time treats such as St. Nicholas lebkuchen (thanks to the wonderful resources on the website St. Nicholas Center), sang songs like Santa Lucia, shared our most meaningful Christmas memories, and did a bit of storytelling theater, acting out the legend of St. Nicholas and the three dowries.
Spring Feast 2013
The highlight of the Spring was Maya's First Communion so our Spring Feast, besides Easter, was a celebration of this and her birthday on the First of May-- May Day and the Feast of St. Joseph the Worker. As veteran Michiganders know, Spring can begin painfully slowly, with many false starts, but patience is rewarded with glorious May lilacs, appleblossoms, and crabapple flowers, to name just a few of the more colorful blooms.
Summer Feast 2013
Thanks to the presence of a plethora of Brazilian friends at the Summer Feast on the Summer Solstice we were also able to celebrate their Winter Solstice, complete with traditions from the "Festa Junina"- a harvest festival around the feasts of St. John the Baptist, St. Anthony, and St. Peter. The party took place under the shade of a row of maple trees at Assaf Acres, the Milk and Honey Homestead. Highlights include a retelling of the story of John the Baptist, goat and bee themed songs by the Assaf children, and Brazilian cocktails.
Autumn Feast 2013
Roma...Caput Mundi! Rome is the origin of an abundance of our traditional festivals, not the least of which is the harvest festival. The Fall harvest is celebrated around the world by all agricultural societies in their own climate and culturally-specific way, but the most enduring and universally recognized come from this one city by the Tiber river.
We returned to Rome this year just in time to celebrate the Autumnal Feast of 2013 Roman-style in the courtyard of the Villino Assaf in the company of good friends. The story told that evening was that of a mother and a daughter-- the Roman goddess of the harvest, Ceres, and the maiden of Spring, Proserpina. Ceres is often depicted holding a cornucopia in one hand and wheat in the other. Her temple was located on the Aventine hill and she was honored at various festivals throughout the year connected to the cycle of planting and harvesting. Proserpina is known for her weakness for pomegranate seeds and it's no coincidence that pomegranates are in season this time of year. Our Autumn Feast took place with a pomegranate tree in the background, with fruit extending over the fence from our neighbor's property.
The celebration of the season of Autumn ends today with a modest Thanksgiving dinner at home in Rome where we are able to offer gratitude for how this new tradition of the Four Feasts has enriched our family and community of friends, and helped us to better understand our role in the four cycles of life through a most colorful and enjoyable means of learning.