January

Christ is Born! Glorify Him!

basil

Happy new year, but not in the Church.  That happened back in September.  You know, I feel like September is a better month to start the year than January.  It just feels natural. For a more in depth look at this topic, one can be found at On Behalf of All.
For the rest of the world the New Year is upon us.  What does that mean for Orthodox Christians?  Vasilopita!  St. Basil Bread!  January 1st is one of the most celebrated feast days of the year. What blessed lad or lady will get the coin this year?  It’s always an exciting time for the faithful!

However, what if you do not like Vasilopita?  God-forbid, but it is true.  My family does not like sweet tasting breads. For years we tried, I promise we did. And every year we suffered in silence.  Until I just gave up and did something different.

In the South, it is tradition to cook black-eyed peas on New Year’s day.   The peas are usually served with a pork dish, greens, and cornbread.  It is a favorite with my family, and we eat this meal together every year. Instead of having two separate traditions on this day, and in pursuit of continuity, I had the idea to combine the tradition of St. Basil’s bread and the coin with peas and cornbread.  I cook my traditional cornbread and place a coin wrapped in foil in the batter.  When we cut it up, whoever gets the coin is the blessed one!

The story of Saint Basil and the poor is universal, and surprisingly the tradition of the black-eyed peas and cornbread is rooted in poverty, slavery, and prosperity as well. I relate the the suffering of the poor with how St. Basil helped the poor.  I also talk with the kids about what being poor in American means.  Sometimes I think we do not see the poor among us as Americans.  As Orthodox Americans perhaps we are familiar with the poor in other countries, but fail to connect our Orthodox call to serve the poor with our American neighbors.

Why We Eat Black-Eyed Peas on New Year’s Day   

January 1-6 Continue celebrating the 12 Days of Christmas

January 1- The Circumcision of Our Lord
St. Basil the Great

January 5- Eve of Theophany STRICT FAST

January 6- Theophany of Our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ
Don’t forget to bring glass containers to Liturgy for Holy Water!

Saints
10 Gregory of Nyssa

St. Emilia is the mother of both St. Basil and St. Gregory of Nyssa who are commemorated this month. Of her ten children, five are commemorated as saints.  That’s amazing.  On this day, let us reflect on the one that is called, “mother of saints”, and ask for her intercessions.  Lord have mercy.
17 Anthony the Great
BBC has a wonderful series: Extreme Pilgrim.  In this episode we see the ascetic Christian tradition that Saint Anthony founded.  This documentary is worth watching, it is deeply spiritual and thought provoking.   

Activities 

Home Blessing, Vasilopita, and Cross Diving at the YMCA!