Feeling a Bit Pagan Today

bunny and eggs

There is a bit of the pagan in the air this spring Sunday.

The secular celebration of Easter is all from pagan traditions. You’re being a modern Anglo Saxon if you have that bunny and decorated eggs as part of this holiday weekend.

They worshipped Eostre who was their goddess of springtime. This was the time to celebrate the true return of the sun from a long winter. Not that the Sun had been gone entirely, but it did not hold the power that it has in the other three seasons. The Christian holiday of Easter and other religions used the spring equinox as a guide to their own holy days.

But how did we get a rabbit with eggs?

eggs Ukrainian Easter Eggs from the exhibition “The Pysanka: A Symbol Of Hope,” at the Ukrainian Institute of America in New York. via CNN

Eostre saved a bird whose wings had frozen during the winter by turning it into a rabbit. That rabbit who had once been a bird retained its ability to lay eggs. Though never officially adapted by the church, the Easter Bunny was born.

Eggs had been a symbol of fertility for a much longer time than Christianity. Keep in mind that eggs from chickens and from birds natural come in many colors, so coloring them began as an imitation of nature.

Unlike today, eggs had once been much more scarce during the winter, so spring also meant the return of eggs to the diet. There are records of people giving each other decorated eggs at this time of year and as part of Easter celebrations that go back to the 11th century.

Time Flies

Photo by Anastasiya Vragova on Pexels.com

What is the most commonly used noun in the English language? I read that it is “time.”

Time is always on our minds. We try our best to control it, but we know that it advances so matter what we do or don’t do.

I can’t really remember what my concept of time was as a child. I know that I wasn’t as concerned about it as I am now in my 60s. Time didn’t move slower or faster but I think I remember thinking I had all the time I would ever need.

As an adult, I have even studied time, from quantum mechanics to time travel fiction. I know that we can’t slow down or speed up time. Well, I guess Einstein would say we can kind of do that if we can travel very, very fast. Albert did not actually say this (but it is often attributed to him) “When you sit with a nice girl for two hours you think it’s only a minute, but when you sit on a hot stove for a minute you think it’s two hours. That’s relativity.” It is true that time seems to slow down when we’re bored. It seems to speed up when we’re enjoying ourselves. And it seems to speed up when as you get older even if you’re not enjoying yourself.

Without getting into anything at a quantum level, I think we all agree that Time is relative.

Someone wrote a book about this feeling that time flies. It’s called Why Time Flies: A Mostly Scientific Investigation.

The Search for 2021

One thing that indicates the year end for me is Google telling us about “The Year in Search.” The Google Trends reveal some things about the questions we were asking, the people who inspired us, and the moments that captured the world’s attention in 2021each year.

What does it all say about this past year?

In 2021, doomscrolling was searched more than ever globally.

fire and flood were global breakout searches at the same time in July.

Here in the USA in January, searches for united states capitol were greater than searches for covid-19 vaccine globally.

I looked for some of the more positive trends. Here are a few.

More positively, searches for affirmations reached an all-time high worldwide this year.

Search interest for when can i get a covid booster increased 10X from July to August globally.

The world searched impact of climate change more than ever before in 2021.

The U.S. searched what are the odds of winning the mega millions more than what are the odds of being struck by lightning this year.

vaccination volunteer was the top trending volunteer opportunity searched worldwide this year.

Search interest for how to conserve reached an all-time high in 2021 worldwide.

The year is not quite over. More trends to come at google/stories/year-in-search/

Curious how they come up with trends? Here’s some info on data methodology.

Thanks to Bernie Sanders, searches for mittens reached an all-time high in January globally.

 

My Guiding Star

star spin

Anyone who looks up at the night sky and can identify a few stars, constellations or planets knows that everything is always moving.

Or is everything moving? Maybe we are the one who is moving.

There is an expression that your “North Star” is the thing that guides you. The actual North Star or Pole Star – which is named Polaris – is known for holding nearly still in our sky while the entire northern sky moves around it.

It really was a guiding star for ancient travelers and sailors. Like a compass, it showed you due North.

Polaris is located nearly at the north celestial pole which is the point around which the entire northern sky turns. If you painted stars on the ceiling of a room and had your own Pole Star at the center of the room and stood right below it, you could spin like a top and all the stars would circle over your head. Except for that Pole Star.

In my lifetime, the stars have been essentially fixed relative to one another, but over time they are moving around the center of the galaxy.  I wrote earlier about how even the North star has moved and the Pole Star has not always been Polaris.

The universe is still at times unimaginable.

The Nap After Thanksgiving Dinner

dinner
Image by Julie Rothe from Pixabay

Are you already prepping for Thanksgiving dinner? That might mean food prep or it might mean sleep prep.

This has always been my wife’s favorite holiday – no gifts, no cards, no religious affiliations, just food and family and friends and a time to count your blessings. In years past, we had quite a crowd with our parents, some bachelor(ette) aunts and friends who didn’t have family and our own two boys. This year the parents and aunts have passed on. Our boys are off with their in-laws, so it will be a quiet holiday.

Thanksgiving is also a day when Americans – who already eat too much – will make and eat too much to an even larger degree. And that often leads to the after-dinner nap on the couch. Sleep after a big meal is never a good idea for digestion, but you cant’ help it after that turkey and fixings. Right?

Did you see the Seinfeld episode where Jerry and George force a lot of turkey on a woman so that she will fall asleep and they can play with her classic toy collection? It has long been thought that because turkey has the amino acid L-tryptophan, that it causes that after-dinner hangover. But is the turkey really what makes you so tired?  Maybe not.

Fact: L-tryptophan is an amino acid responsible for producing serotonin in our brains and serotonin is a hormone that affects mood. It makes us feel happy and relaxed and plays a role in helping us sleep and also aids with digestion. And turkey has L-tryptophan. But some research shows that the amino acids and protein in turkey have the opposite effect. They can inhibit L-tryptophan’s ability to produce serotonin which means it would keep you awake.

And yet the after-dinner turkey day snooze is real. What is causing it? It’s carbohydrates. The bread, rolls, stuffing, potatoes, cake and pie, when eaten with high protein foods like turkey will lead to feeling sleepy and sluggish.

How can we beat that sleepy effect? Don’t starve before the main meal because you’ll eat too fast and too much. (I know that you said that you didn’t eat all morning in order to “save room” for dinner.) Eat smaller portions of those carbs. Fight off the habit or urge to nap by getting outside for a little walk or some touch football.

So, now that I have taken some of the pleasure out of the holiday meal, is there any good coming out of traditional Thanksgiving foods? I searched and yes, there is some good news.

I have never met a potato I didn’t like and mashed potatoes are high on my list. Potatoes are full of potassium which lowers blood pressure and nourishes muscles and they have a lot of vitamin B6 which helps metabolism. Note that adding a lot of salt, gravy or butter can cancel out any benefits.

Fresh vegetables have fiber, Vitamins A, B1, B2 and B6 and calcium. The green bean casserole with cream of mushroom soup and the crunchy onions is not so great for your health.

I love stuffing. I will have a stuffing sandwich the day after Thanksgiving. I know, it’s bread on bread. But stuffing can be made healthier with the addition of whole wheat bread with the crusts and nuts, seeds, meat or vegan protein and carrots, celery and other veggies so that you get more fiber, antioxidants and nutrients. My wife’s recipe has all that and it is delicious.

How about pumpkin pie? I just read that many pumpkin products are actually made from other squashes and they can legally be labeled as pumpkin. Bummer. Pumpkin pie with real pumpkin contains potassium, vitamin C and beta-carotene, which can help lower the risk of cancer. Again, what else you add to the pie (sugars, whipped cream etc.) might tip the scale from beneficial to harmful.

I wish you moderation and gratitude on your Thanksgiving day. Eat well. And after the meal, maybe toss a football around before you watch other people toss one around on a screen from your comfy couch.

But It’s Not the End Yet

I just reread tonight’s Doomsday Clock post and it is a real downer. I thought of Neil Young’s intro on a live recording – “Here’s a song that’s guaranteed to bring you down. It’s called “Don’t Let It Bring Down.”

I can’t refute the ticking closer to the Doomsday calculation of that clock, but as a counter to it, I think of all the people who have predicted The End for all of us on Earth who have been wrong. We’re still here. 

Remember back in 2012 when the Maya calendar seemed to predict the end? (Some people interpreted it to mean a restart for the planet.) I wrote a few posts about the Maya calendar and the idea that 2012 was the end. I didn’t take it seriously but I found it interesting how many people did.

There is definitely some tongue-in-cheek in “My Last Post Before It All Ends” as we moved into the winter solstice that year. As I wrote, “This is my last post about the 2012 Doomsday before it all ends. By ‘it’ I mean all the hype.”