Wednesday 9 December 2009

Cricket Ball Squash, Santa Claus, Italy and us ...

We do have some weird and wonderful mixtures of words and descriptions ... and as of last night my story today was not going to be on cricket, balls, squash, or Italy .. yes Santa Claus and obviously the blog. But there we go, another tale to tell.
What on earth could the connection be? Well – a friend of my mother’s, who lives in Cornwall, visits Italy twice a year .. and sees an old friend of hers, who used to live in South Africa, as I did. So one connection down! Elizabeth asked me if I’d heard of cricket ball squash .. “no”: I said – I’ve heard of and eaten spaghetti squash, but not cricket ball squash.

Oryx (a gazelle) – face similar to CedarPond’s herd .. but not the same!

The words don’t come out so easily now-a-days: too much going on – but I guessed that the little green round squash might hold the answer. This morning .. little gems came to mind. However I searched for “cricket ball squash” and up immediately up came the answer – little gems (acorn squash) halved, or baked and served a la Jamie Oliver. So that connection was solved – why it’s called cricket ball squash, when cricket balls are usually red – I have no idea.

Acorn or Little Gem Squash

The second of the searches stumbled me into CedarPond’s blog – and this wonderful picture .. which you have to click over to see – it epitomises Christmas as I’d love to see it outside my house – wonderful sheep (I tried to find out their name – not Bighorn, nor are they Mouflons – I hope Cedar Pond will tell us!) with their beautiful faces and clear eyes looking at us across the snow. On top of that Cedar Pond have their very own Santa Claus – and a very pretty good looking brood – looks like they’ll be having loads of fun at Christmas.

CedarPond had also seen the cricket ball squash and been so enamoured of it – they have posted a recipe for it. Well I have to say when I started out today I never thought our ubiquitous English game of cricket , usually played with a red ball not a green one, and certainly I never played squash with a ball larger than a squash ball – and the little gem is somewhat larger. Though the mess of hitting a little gem in a squash court with a cricket bat is a thought too far – especially now when we really don’t need any more cleaning up to do.

So I’ve solved one of Cilla’s (in Italy) question s – now the other escaped me .. it concerns Aesop’s African Fables .. and that I cannot find out about. However I have also been asked some other more suitable questions for this time of year – such as Advent, the 12 days of Christmas and the decorations of the Christmas tree – this last part was answered in my earlier post: What Christmas memory comes back to you at the beginning of December?

Mouflon in Buffalo Zoo (also not the same)

Santa Claus is another mix up – as his name is actually a contraction of Santa Nikolaus, the patron saint of German children, and he’s just had his feast day on 6th December, which still forms a major role at this time of year in certain European countries. He would be absolutely thrilled to visit CedarPond and all families with believing children to be able to work his magic there; as Santa Nikolaus distributes gifts to “good children”.
The present custom with his reindeer being introduced into England from Germany in about 1840, whereby small toys and other small presents are put into a stocking (as it would have been in the 1840s), so when they wake up on Christmas morning they find Santa Claus had remembered them. The wonders of childhood.
Merry Old Santa: 1881 illustration by Thomas Nast who, with Clement Clarke Moore, helped to create the modern image of Santa Claus

The beginning of the Church year is called ‘Advent’ and commences on St Andrews Day, 30 November, or the first Sunday nearest to it. It is the four week period before Christmas Day and commemorates the first and second coming of Christ; the first to redeem and the second to judge the world. The first Sunday in Advent is the beginning of the Church year. Elizabeth in Cornwall asked about this.

So now away from Cornwall and Italy to America, Japan and China .. another reader, whose wife is Chinese asked about the 12 days of Christmas ... in simple terms as far as the West is concerned it is the 12 day festival starting on December 25, and ending on January 5, known as Christmastide or the twelve days of Christmas.
The characteristic reindeer in Svalbard, an archipelago between Norway and the North Pole

As I described here Christmas as a date and period of celebration has over the past two thousand years been affected by societal development, from Saturnalia and paganism, to the more prescribed Roman practices, followed by Christianity and other changes .... including the move away from the Julian Calendar to the Gregorian Calendar in the Middle Ages, also mentioned in this post.

The Feast of the Epiphany on January 6 is a Christian feast day celebrating the revelation of God in human form in the person of Jesus Christ, as described by the Magi (the three wise men) when they bore their gifts of gold, frankincense and myrrh for the baby Jesus. Shakespeare’s play “Twelfth Night” (1600-1601) was so called because it was written for acting at the Twelfth Night revels.

Byzantine art usually depicts the Magi in Persian clothing which includes breeches, capes, and Phyrgian caps). A restored mosaic, dated circa 600, found in the Basilica of Sant’Apollinare Nuovo, Ravenna, Italy.

This third part of the Liturgical year has concluded our cricket ball squash story, Santa Claus and his hide out at CedarPond, and our tour around part of the world connecting questions raised with answers. Please continue to enjoy your Advent before the merrymaking of Saturnalia commences.

Dear Mr Postman .. many thanks for delivering this letter on what appears to be our last warm day before the cold of winter really sets in. All seems quiet at the moment with my mother and she is pleased to get her Christmas cards as they are starting to come in and it cheers her that she hears from family and friends. I have yet to do the decorations!

Hilary Melton-Butcher
Positive Letters Inspirational Stories


Patricia said...

Hilary, I so enjoyed this post and I will need to return to do all the linking round in my evening read...I wanted to let you know I was here...
In the Harvest Potluck e cookbook there is a recipe for Stuffed Squash that my English mum used to sounds like a match!
Thank you for your good comments today...what a success to get $1k for UNICEF...

Hilary Melton-Butcher said...

Hi Patricia .. it is a real mish ..but I did enjoy putting it together .. just made it fun. So glad you are here .. I know you were here and are here.

It's so brilliant that the Harvest Potluck ( I highly recommend everyone!) succeeded in its goal .. well done to you.

Stuffed squah are so delicious .. this goes to the PotLuck website .. Tom Stanford gives us his recipe ..

Share and enjoy - that's what we're about .. living life to the full ..

Patricia .. I'm so pleased you made $1k for UNICEF .. I'll ask my Twitterer and Poster family guru to advertise it out for you ..

Go well - enjoy the sucdess
love Hilary


I always learn something new here, and now it's special because it's something about Christmas! ;-) It's the first time I've heard about cricket ball squash, too. I thought it was a game somewhat, but now it's better 'cause it's something we can eat.

Hilary Melton-Butcher said...

Hi Joyce .. thanks for visiting ..and glad you learnt something different. Me too - I didn't know about cricket ball squash - gone is the name little gem, or acorn squash! Christmas time has a wealth of knowledge to draw on ..

Different countries have so many traditions too ..
Good to see you - Hilary Melton-Butcher
Positive Letters Inspirational Stories

Wilma Ham said...

Hi Hilary.
To confuse the whole tradition melting pot a bit more, in Holland we have Sinterklaas on the 5th of December and he comes on a boat and transport himself on land with a white horse. He has helpers which are called black peters and are originally Mores from Africa. Sinterklaas was a bishop in Spain who originally on his birthday gave presents to poor children. How we have jumbled all this up to have him come from Spain to Holland I have no idea but Sinterklaas is different and fun.

Marketing Unscrambled, Home edition said...

Hello Hilary,

What a lot of different things to learn about today. Thank you for all of them.

Glad that your mother is doing well. Have a great Christmas time. Hugs to all at this time of year.

Dan and Deanna "Marketing Unscrambled"

Hilary Melton-Butcher said...

Hi Wilma .. yes Sinterklaas has slipped through my posting net! He was in it at one stage - but there's so much information at this time of year.

However you have certainly told me some other really interesting bits of information - like the Moors being part of the Christmas ceremony .. and of course the Moors ruled Spain for a while - hence the black peters. Our folk lore travels and over time muddles along into a good story mix ..

If I miss out this year - I have a good story to tell for next year ..

Thanks for this really informative comment .. and you have some foods at this time of year too.

So pleased to have your Dutch remembrances -
Hilary Melton-Butcher
Positive Letters inspirational Stories

Hilary Melton-Butcher said...

Hi Dan and Deanna .. hope I haven't stretched your brain too far. As you say so much has happened at this time of year .. and some fun things such as cricket balls!

Yes - Mum is fine and had a good belly laugh today - always does us fun.

Thanks for the hugs - good to have ..
and back to you too - Hilary Melton-Butcher
Positive Letters Inspirational Stories

Unknown said...

Hello Hilary,

After reading your article, I feel ready to answer questions from my wife and my Japanese friends. Thank you. One thing I always wonder is what mistletoe has to do with Christmas. Could you tell me about it?

Thank you for your educational article.

Best regards,
Shaw Funami
Fill the Missing Link

Hilary Melton-Butcher said...

Hi Shaw .. glad I have answered your questions and you're able to share 'our' traditional Christmas and its origins over the years .. with your Chinese wife, and Japanese friends. Wonderful world we live in .. we can now cross the oceans with cheer and information ..

Sure - I'll post next about mistletoe ..

Have a great Christmas and New Year season with all your friends and family ..
All the very best -
Hilary Melton-Butcher
Positive Letters Inspirational Stories

Megan "JoyGirl!" Bord said...

I'm so glad I know what the 12 days of Christmas are all about now, as well as Advent. More learning, and it's so welcomed. Hilary, you do a great service here, and I'm grateful.

Best to you today and always!

PS - I just learned yesterday as I shopped for mistletoe that it's rare to find it "live" in shops because of how they have to harvest it. Apparently, as a shop owner told me, it grows very high up in trees and it has to be shot down (SHOT!). Wow! I did not know that...

Hilary Melton-Butcher said...

Hi Megan .. thank you! So pleased that I seem to be helping so many with some Christmas information - thanks Megan .. I appreciate your thoughts.

re mistletoe .. I posted a lovely picture on 30 November .. but I too didn't know it was shot down .. I'll have to investigate?! Mind you if I can find out about cricket ball squash - I guess I can find out about anything!

You too - have a great pre Christmas happy time .. and everything of the best for the festive season ..
Hilary Melton-Butcher
Positive Letters Inspirational Stories

Robin Easton said...

Dear Hilary, I don't know if you plan it or it's just your nature or even if other people here see it. are hoot!!

I found this as always very interesting and I learn a lot here because you are so well versed on SO many things...but that are so so funny. I found such delightful humor in this whole thing. It just tickled me no end. :):) I laughed out loud over the whole acorn squash thing and the cricket ball. LOLOL!!! :)

And I loved the whole Santa Clause thing. Made me remember part of my youth and then that made me remember a video I did a year ago about THAT time of my youth. Here is the link to it. Hope you have good laugh:

Hugs to you Hilary and have a great holiday season. Robin

Evelyn Lim said...

I was wondering too at the title to your post on the connection. it! Cricket ball squash sounds interesting. Certainly, there is a lot more to Christmas with various traditions, cultures and recipes, isn't it?

Hilary Melton-Butcher said...

Hi Robin .. it's me! and I hope others see it, but also not always sure!?!

I love linking things .. I must always have done .. and Mum laughs so much, as my brain goes off towards another angle - sometimes I try and pull my horns in, as perhaps I stretch the link too much, or the explanations will take too long - or others may not understand? My wave lengths are different ...

Your 2008 video is great .. and I can imagine the 6 of you .. chafing to get at your prezzies ..and I can hear the bantering of you all .. your Dad created something great, but also I guess some stress for your Mum during the days?! When did the 12 days start - the 14th? I wanted to leave a comment - but couldn't find where to - perhaps they've closed ..

Lovely to be able to play the piano .. and to be able to bring back the childhood memories .. I remember sending letters up the chimney to FC, and him appearing, but also him eating all the goodies during the night as he passed by - the sherry, and the mince pies - he liked!!

Thanks for the hugs .. and thoughts - you too have a lovely family time -
Hilary Melton-Butcher
Positive Letters Inspirational Stories

Hilary Melton-Butcher said...

Hi Evelyn .. Thanks for dropping by .. your retreat sounded really amazing. I just loved the question .. and the quirkyness of the connections .. so had to answer, as I'd found out - and thought it was something different.

The world has so many traditions that have been taken across the seas .. and it's good learn about them. I can visualise some of my posts for next Christmas already?! ..

Have a wonderful time and relish your recent experiences ...

All the very best - Hilary Melton-Butcher
Positive Letters Inspirational Stories

Jannie Funster said...

I should so love to go to Italy.

It is most delightful our child still has an impregnable love of Santa in her heart. She asked th eother day how Santa was discovered. And answered herself that some of the parents must've stumbled on him in the nihgt leaving his presents.

I myself am a huge fan of the butternut squash. Do you have it there? It is so tasty.

Hilary Melton-Butcher said...

Hi Jannie .. kids - full of questions!! Good reply - the stumbling story! Bless her - and I'm sure with you around she'll have a wonderful Christmas and visit from Mr S Claus himself, all the way from the north pole!

Re Italy .. I've been a few times and I'll do some posts on it - good resolution to have for the New Year - along with rather a large number of others .. oh well: be a good girl guide and be prepared - that's my motto for 2010 ..

I too love butternut squash .. especially roasted .. but this squash is (when they're young) little round green gem squash, not really squiggly like your acorn squash, and just lightly boiled the yellow creamy flesh is delicious with butter. Cut in half extract the seeds .. and serve .. deliciosa ..

Italian rather than blue bunnies Afrikaans!

Enjoy the celebrations with the little one .. bye for now - Hilary Melton-Butcher
Positive Letters Inspirational Stories

Liara Covert said...

Although cricket is quite popular in Australia, I have honestly not yet chosen to sit through what seems to be a multi-day game in order to learn the rules. If Santa and the reindeer play, that might keep the children's eyes glued to the game and bums to chairs longer than some parents assume is possible. Your references to to Saturnalia and paganism are friendly reminders to your reader that there is more to this seasons that what thye were perhaps taught as children. Pays to keep an open mind:)

Hilary Melton-Butcher said...

Hi Liara .. I thought cricket was very popular - but perhaps in the cities. I'm not surprised you haven't sat through 5 days, nor have ! - even contemplated it! I suspect even the children wouldn't last long if Santa was out there .. especially with his bag of goodies in full view .. but it's a good thought.

As you say - we've come a long way, our customs, traditions, rules and regulations evolving over the years - many, many of them (thousands) .. and remembering our origins is interesting and important.

Here's to an open mind, more compassion, smiles, gratitude and thoughtfulness in 2010

Hilary Melton-Butcher
Positive Letters Inspirational Stories

Sara said...

Hilary -- I've been visiting some of your posts and came across this one. I loved the story of cricket ball squash and how you tied into the Christmas scene at CedarPond.

You really do a great job of teaching me things I would never have known had I not visited.


Hilary Melton-Butcher said...

Hi Sara .. what a surprise to see you here! Thank you for commenting .. it's lovely having a compliment .. always delighted to have them!!

Cedar Pond never came back to me .. a bit disappointing I think .. but that's blogging!

So pleased you enjoy the visits .. I'm teaching myself too .. rather a lot! as we go along this route together ..

Enjoy the rest of the week .. Hilary