Our year is filled with an assortment of celebrations-some a based in faith, others in history and folklore, and still others are to honor various people, groups or things. Each country, state, province, nationality and religion also has their own unique festivities. While some holidays fall on the same day, year after year; others move around the calendar. (Some calendars contain 12 months, others, 13. There are those which have different year counts. While others have a different number of days.) The following are just days that are celebrated within the United States and are listed according to the month they fall within on the Gregorian A.D. 2020 calendar.
- Awareness: Birth Defects, Blood Donor, Cervical Health, Glaucoma, Healthy Weight, Thyroid
- Flower: Snowdrop
- Gemstone: Garnet
- Trees: Apple, Fir, Elm, Cypress
New Year’s Day: This is the day when new beginnings are made. People make resolutions to aid in improving their lives. Certain traditions ranging from food, cleaning, even clothing are thought to bring good luck for the upcoming year. Some ‘good luck’ foods include greens, pork, rice, dates/figs, lentils, noodles and black-eyed peas. Cleaning not only covers tossing out broken/unused stuff but also airing out rooms. The physical body also needs to be cleansed and nourished. It is considered ‘good luck’ to wear clothing of certain colors and some believe it must be new. To help make the year a healthier one, you can consume food that is organic and heirloom (if possible) and allergen-free (ex: gluten, yeast, dairy and egg). Buy clothing made of 100% renewable plant fibers (ex: cotton and hemp) and has fasteners (if applicable) that are either metal zippers and snaps, stone/shell/wood buttons, or pull ties. Brooms made traditionally out of wood, broomcorn straw, twigs or horsehair and twine are eco-friendlier than the modern plastic ones. Body cleansing can include organ detoxing, skin brushing, bathing, consuming more fiber and water and getting more exercises. Also, one can nourish their mind and spirit by reading up-lifting books, going to church, meditating and seeking counseling to get rid of past traumas.
Martin Luther King Day: This is a day to honor an American Christian minister and activist who stood against social injustices in a non-violent way. But, during his life he battled personal religious conflict, severe depression and major stress. He seemed to have conquered all except stress. Everyone can change their hearts, minds and spirits. Counseling can help break down walls and overcome negative habits. Another technique to help achieve this is through nourishing the emotions with aid of flowers. The flower remedies are safe and natural methods of emotional healing discovered by Dr. Bach from the 1920’s and 1930’s in England. They gently assist the restoration of balance between the mind and body by casting out negative emotions such as fear, worry, hatred and indecisions which interfere with the equilibrium of the being as a whole. These remedies aid in allowing peace and happiness to return to the sufferer so that the body is free to heal itself. They are made from wild flowers and are considered safe for the whole family including pets. Common methods of use are applied on the skin or taken under the tongue. The flowers used are: Agrimony, Aspen, Beech, Centaury, Cerato, Cherry Plum, Chestnut Bud, Chicory, Clematis, Crab Apple, Elm, Gentian, Gorse, Heather, Holly, Honeysuckle, Hornbeam, Impatiens, Larch, Mimulus, Mustard, Oak, Olive, Pine, Red Chestnut, Rock Rose, Rock Water, Scleranthus, Star of Bethlehem, Sweet Chestnut, Vervain, Vine, Walnut, Water Violet, White Chestnut, Wild Oat, Wild Rose and Willow.
Chinese New Year: The Chinese calendar lists this as 4,718. Traditional Chinese Medicine (TCM) is the ancient Chinese medicine system is based on the Daoist view of a universe in which everything is interrelated. As the Chinese observed the world around them, they organized it into five primal powers or elements: Wood, Fire, Earth, Metal and Water. The Chinese have developed a unique method of understanding the structure of the internal organs and the body’s physiological processes. TCM is designed to promote and maintain health through diet and exercise. If illness occurs, it is treated with acupuncture, herbs and Qigong which help rebalance Yin and Yang (an energetic system that cannot be separated from one another or the universe). Thus, Chinese medicine is considered very complex and intricate. However, it treats the patient, not the disease.
The body was organized into corresponding systems know as Organ Networks. Each organ is not a separate structure, but is interconnected by an organ system that work together to keep the body functioning well. Vital substances (Qi, blood, body fluids, Jing and Shen) interact with each other to nourish and sustain the body and mind. Solid organs and Zang and hollow organs are Fu. Zang Fu deals more with an organ’s relationship to the body rather than to a specific function. The organs have difference functions, yet depend on each other to function properly. Each organ is predominantly Yin or Yang. Yang organs transform and digest. Yin organs store, in particular the Vital Substance. The Zang Fu organs are associated with specific body tissues and emotions.
The organs and all components of the body are connected by energy channels (Meridians). They are pathways for the flow of Qi throughout the body. There are Twelve Regular Meridians running vertically up and down the surface of the body with many branching channels. The Meridians are paired (the same on both sides of the body). Each Meridian is associated with a Zang Fu organ. Acupuncture points are Qi access points along the Meridians.
There are Eight Extraordinary Vessels, which do not connect to the Zang Fu organs. Only two of these channels have acupuncture points. They mostly function as reservoirs of Qi and blood for the Twelve Regular Meridians.
Homemade Broom: For a more durable broom that is less likely to fall apart, it is advised to use broomcorn, a variety of Sorghum – Sorghum vulgare var. technicum. Cut a straight tree limb with smooth bark and few knots or smaller limbs for your broom handle. Clean the broomcorn, shaking out loose stems, leaves, and other debris. Gather it into bundles about 1 to 1 ½ inches (2.5 to 3.8 cm) thick, wrapping each bundle tightly, and trimming the ends straight. Tie individual bundles of straw tightly with twine. (This will help keep the finished broom neat.) Next, tie the bundles together, one at a time, and side by side. Keep them as flat as possible. By wrapping the twine back and forth from opposite sides around each bundle, they will lay closer together and flatter. Sharpen the end of the stick so that it can be pushed up into the end of the bundles at the center. Push it about 6 inches (15 cm) deep between the center bundles, then tie it off securely with more twine. Using sharp, heavy-duty scissors cut the ends of the straw straight across. The broom is now ready for use.
Soapy Plants: There are a number of plants that can be used as a substitute for soap without any chemical processing. These plants contain naturally occurring soap-like substances, called saponins. There are three common North American plants with significant saponin content. Directions: To use any of these plants for soap, chop up the appropriate part of the plant and rub it between one’s hands with some water or dry it for future use. (Before trying a full dose on one’s body, test for allergic reactions by rubbing a bit onto the inside of the wrist and waiting one day to make sure there is no adverse reaction. Because saponins are somewhat poisonous, and Native Americans have used them to paralyze fish, one does not want to eat these plants, except perhaps for the edible fruits and flowers of the yucca family.
- Bouncing Bet (Soapwort): Do not use Bouncing Bet on your face, because it is very irritating to the eyes. Collect Bouncing Bet in the late summer to fall. Found nationwide, it is easiest to identify by its pretty white or pink flowers with five petals. One can use the entire plant.
- Clematis: Clematis is a common climbing vine with white or purple flowers, and is often found dominating the tops of trees. Collect the leaves and flowers for use as soap.
- Yucca, Agave, Spanish Bayonet, Sotol, Joshua Tree: The root contains the most saponins, but use of the root kills the plant, so please don’t use this plant frivolously (although it can re-grow if some roots are left in place). If pounding and soaking the leaves for fiber to make cordage, the soaking water will contain sufficient saponins for bathing.
Miss Hull’s Marble Cake (1865): (Light layer) Three and ½ cups of flour, three cups of white sugar, one cup of butter, ½ cup of cream or milk, whites of seven eggs, two teaspoons of cream of tartar, one teaspoon of soda. (Dark layer) Five cups of flour, two cups of brown sugar, one cup of molasses, one cup of butter, two tablespoons of cinnamon, one tablespoon of cloves, one tablespoon of allspice, one tablespoon of nutmeg, ½ cup of cream or milk (sour, if you have it), ½ teaspoon of soda and seven egg yolks. Directions: Butter and flour your pans. Put in a layer of the dark batter, then a tablespoon of light batter. Alternate with the dark and light layers throughout. Bake at 350 degrees for about 45-55 minutes until golden brown and edges pull away from the sides of the pans, and toothpicks come out clean. Some people have marble cake as a MLK Day dessert.
Jolene Griffiths, Master Herbalist
For more information, contact Naturopathic Dr. Randy Lee, owner of The Health Patch at 1024 S. Douglas Blvd., Midwest City, at 405-736-1030 or email pawpaw@TheHealthPatch.com or visit http://thehealthpatch.com.