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March, 2010

March brings us many events: Lent is still going on, St. Patrick’s Day , the first day of Spring and Passover are all part of this year’s March calendar of events.

Lent

In Christianity, Lent is a time of penance, prayer, preparation for or recollection of baptism, and preparation for the celebration of Easter. Lent begins on Ash Wednesday, the 40th weekday before Easter. The fifth Sunday in Lent is Passion Sunday and the last is Palm Sunday. The week preceding Easter is called Holy Week. Lent ends at midnight on Holy Saturday. Generally, something is given up for Lent, like a food or habit. Lent began on February 17th this year.

St. Patrick’s DayCabbage
St. Patrick’s Day, which is always March 17th, is an Irish holiday honoring Saint Patrick, the missionary credited with converting the Irish to Christianity (in the A.D. 400's). Historical sources report that Patrick was born around 373 A.D. in either Scotland (near the town of Dumbarton) or in Roman Britain (the Romans left Britain in 410 A.D.). His real name is believed to be Maewyn Succat (he took on Patrick, or Patricus, after he became a priest). At the age of 16, he was kidnapped by pirates and sold into slavery in Ireland. During his 6-year captivity working as a shepherd, he began to have religious visions, and found strength in his faith. He finally escaped and went to France, where he became a priest (and later a bishop).

When Saint Patrick was about 60 years old, he traveled to Ireland to spread the Christian word. It is said, that Saint Patrick had an unusually winning personality, which helped him win converts. He used the shamrock, which resembles a three-leafed clover, as a metaphor to explain the concept of the Trinity (father, son, Holy Spirit). Saint Patrick was also known to have driven all the snakes out of Ireland, which is why Ireland has no snakes. Different tales tell of Saint Patrick standing on a hill, using a wooden staff to drive the serpents into the sea, banishing them forever from the shores of Ireland. Saint Patrick's Day is celebrated in the United States with plenty of food, fun and wearing green. The first American celebration of Saint Patrick's Day was in Boston, Massachusetts, in 1737. Americans celebrated with festivities and food. Today, we celebrate with foods like cabbage, potatoes, corned beef and green foods of any kind.

Green is associated with Saint Patrick's Day because it is the color of Spring.

Melissa’s has some great healthy food ideas for this green holiday: We suggest green cabbage or even salad savoy (flowering kale). Boil these greens until tender and serve with your favorite meat (corned beef is traditional) and you’re off to a great start. Cabbage and kale contain plenty of vitamin C, too. They also have zero fat and zero cholesterol.

Here are some FUN FACTS that are considered good luck on Saint Patrick's Day:
• Finding a four-leaf clover
• Wearing green
• Kissing the blarney stone

Passover: A Jewish Celebration
Horseradish Root
The Jewish Holiday Passover begins at sundown on March 29th, 2010. It is the Jewish Year 5770. Passover is the celebration of the ancient biblical story of the Jewish people's flight from slavery in Egypt. It is a very important holiday in the Jewish religion. There are many traditions that go along with the story of Passover; A seder, a seder plate and several traditional foods that are eaten. The Seder, which translates to "order", is the gathering and meal which take place on the first two nights of Passover and follows a specific order.

• The roasted shank bone represents the Paschal sacrifices (a slaughtered lamb), which Jews brought to the temple during a feast pre-dating the Passover holiday.
• The Maror, or bitter herb (usually horseradish root), symbolizes the bitterness of the bondage the Jews endured in Egypt.
• Charoset is a delicious mixture of chopped apples, nuts, cinnamon, honey, and wine, which represents the mortar Jewish slaves used to build the great stone structures of Egypt.
• Karpas, usually parsley or another green herb, is a symbol of hope and the renewal of life promised with the coming of spring.
• A charred or roasted egg represents the burnt offering Jews brought to the first temple on every day of the Passover feast.

Matzoh is the unleavened bread that is eaten during Passover. It is meant to serve as a reminder of the hardship Jews suffered in Egypt; they had to depart so quickly that their bread didn't have time to rise. Three pieces of ceremonial matzoh are placed, covered, on the seder table. Two represent the loaves of bread blessed on every Sabbath and holiday, and the third is the matzoh used in the seder.

The Afikoman is a part of the middle piece of matzoh. It is broken off and hidden by the leader of the seder, and must be found by any children present before the seder feast can be served. Traditionally, the one who finds the Afikoman ransoms it back to the leader for some type of reward. This is the favorite part of the evening for the kids.

Salt water, into which the karpas is dipped before eating, symbolizes the tears of all those who suffered for freedom. A special cup is filled with wine and placed on the seder table for the prophet Elijah, who is said to visit each seder. At a certain point in the meal the door is opened and a hymn is sung to welcome him. This always brings out the imagination in the children when they believe the wine has been sipped! The seder ends with traditional songs and popular passover desserts.

Spring

Spring arrives on Saturday, March 20, 2010. Everything fresh begins to arrive, including warmer weather. Flowers and fresh fruits and vegetables are in bloom and received with open arms by all! Plenty of fresh citrus, organics, fresh herbs, delicious and juicy stone fruit and wonderful fresh vegetables will be available in plentiful supplies.