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Silver Sunday traditions

Silver Sunday ushers in Christmas

By Emma Palova

EW Emma’s Writings

Silver Sunday is the second Sunday before Christmas that literally makes the Christmas holiday fever rise by several degrees even though it is usually cold outside at this time of the year. It is also the third Sunday of the advent in the catholic religious year.

Outdoor Christmas markets in most European cities on major squares, are in full swing by now, and they will be open until Dec. 23rd & some on Dec. 24th. The rush is on for everything from nuts and poppy seeds for baking purposes, wooden toys and other crafts, apples and dried fruits, ornaments and keepsakes.

Christmas markets in Czech Republic
Christmas markets in Czech Republic. Photo by Adela Kobylikova

It’s also time to get a Christmas tree. Although back in Czech Republic most families decorated their tree on Christmas Eve, here in US our family has adapted to the custom of putting up the tree at least two weeks before the magical day.   Christmas Eve is a magical day, but a lot has been lost in the translation of the feast of Adam&Eve that falls on Dec. 24th in the Czech name day calendar.

In Czech language, that magical day is called “Stedry Den” which translates exactly as Bountiful Day. Families open a bounty of presents in the evening. I will write more about the customs of that day next week as we draw closer to Christmas.

And even though, I miss deeply some of the customs in Czech Republic, I have replaced them with new ones here in USA.

We cut our Christmas tree early and decorate it before Christmas Eve. Last year we took Ella with us to carry on the new tradition.

Ludek & Ella cut the Palova family Christmas tree at Horrocks Nursery
Ludek & Ella cut the Palova family Christmas tree at Horrocks Nursery

I couldn’t remember where the tree farms in the area are, so I looked it up on Google Christmas farms in Ionia County and found Horrocks Nursery Farms just north of the city of Ionia.

This year we don’t have our tree yet and I haven’t baked yet either. But my daughter-in-law Maranda Palova made our traditional nutty baskets with filling. I plan on baking chocolate flutes and chocolate mini Ischel cakes. Some Czech and European recipes come with a history. This one comes from the spa town of Ischel in Austria. The story has it that the Austro-Hungarian emperor Franz Josef used to frequent the bakery that made them in Ischel.

As with many recipes there are many variations of the mini Ischel cakes. My grandma Anna used to love them, so I always made them for her. I like to keep that tradition going.

Czech nutty baskets
Christmas nutty baskets

Now is also time to send and get cards even in the era of the web. Over the 20+ years here on the American continent, I’ve received hundreds of them, but kept only a few.

One of the few precious ones, a definite keepsake, is a card from Brno with a nativity scene and a score to a Christmas carol. One of the most precious cards that I had sent out was made from a photo at the Meijer store in Cascade.

Although I can’t find it now, I remember precisely what was on it. We were picking blueberries as a family on a farm near Ludington in the 90-degree heat. We’re all holding blue pales and shielding our heads from the scorching sun with funny hats. My daughter Emma was wearing a t-shirt with a Polar bear on it.

“Happy holidays,” the card with mistletoe clip art and snowflakes said.

Speaking about passing on traits and such; both my daughter and I have the same sense for juxtaposition.

For more information on Horrocks Christmas Tree farm go to http://www.horrocksnursery.com

To be continued with Golden Sunday

Copyright © 2014 Emma Blogs LLC All rights reserved

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Favorite photo 2013

New Year’s Eve photo attracts most attention

By Emma Palova

EW Emmas Writings Journal

The most liked photo from all of my posts combined on WordPress, Google+, Facebook, Linkedin and Instagram in 2013 was the one I took of St. Patrick’s Church in Parnell, Michigan on a stormy New Year’s Eve. We were coming back from a dinner down Gavin Lake Road and I noticed the laser-like quality of the flood lights on the steeple of the church that is celebrating its 170th anniversary this year.

“We have to turn around, I got to get this photo,” I said to my husband.

The church stands like a lonely sentinel amid farms and fields in the northern east part of Kent County. It is a landmark for both the parishioners and travelers who pass by.

St. Patrick's Church in Parnell, MI
St. Patrick’s Church in Parnell, MI

It was built in 1844 by Irish pioneers braving the new lands, according to Saint Patrick’s Parish history book published in 1996. I’ve written many times about this church, its preservation efforts and movement ahead with times.
Happy and successful 2014.

Copyright (c) 2013 story and photo by Emma Palova

Silver Sunday

Silver Sunday escalates Christmas fever

By Emma Palova

Silver Sunday is the second Sunday before Christmas that literally makes the Christmas holiday fever rise by several degrees even though it is usually cold outside at this time of the year. It is also the third Sunday of the advent in the catholic religious year.

Outdoor Christmas markets in most European cities on major squares, are in full swing by now, and they will be open until Dec. 23rd & some on Dec. 24th. The rush is on for everything from nuts and poppy seeds for baking purposes, wooden toys and other crafts, apples and dried fruits, ornaments and keepsakes.

Christmas markets in Czech Republic
Christmas markets in Czech Republic. Photo by Adela Kobylikova

It’s also time to get a Christmas tree. Although back in Czech Republic most families decorated their tree on Christmas Eve, here in US our family has adapted to the custom of putting up the tree at least two weeks before the magical day.   Christmas Eve is a magical day, but a lot has been lost in the translation of the feast of Adam&Eve that falls on Dec. 24th in the Czech name day calendar.

In Czech language, that magical day is called “Stedry Den” which translates exactly as Bountiful Day. Families open a bounty of presents in the evening. I will write more about the customs of that day next week as we draw closer to Christmas.

And even though, I miss deeply some of the customs in Czech Republic, I have replaced them with new ones here in USA.

This year, we totally immersed ourselves into the tradition of cutting our own Christmas tree right after Thanksgiving because three-year old Ella from France was here. We did it many years ago when kids were little at a farm somewhere in Ionia County.

Ludek & Ella cut the Palova family Christmas tree at Horrocks Nursery
Ludek & Ella cut the Palova family Christmas tree at Horrocks Nursery

I couldn’t remember where, so I looked up on Google Christmas farms in Ionia County and found Horrocks Nursery Farms just north of the city of Ionia.

We were in for probably the best tree cutting experience in my entire life.

We waited in the pole barn for a horse-drawn wagon ride by a pair of some 2,000 pound Percheron horses named Clementine & Clodis. It was a crispy sunny Saturday, as we headed out on the tree farm. No snow yet. We found the lot with Scotch pines, and cut a beautiful Palova family Christmas tree. We chatted with a friendly guy who had the shotgun seat on the wagon.

Back, in the barn, we roasted marshmallows and hot dogs in the open fire wood stove as we helped ourselves to cider, hot chocolate and coffee, while Christmas movies and music were playing in the background.

“This is great,” I said to my husband Ludek. “Next year we’ll have Josephine with us too.”

Going back to Christmas customs both here and in Europe, now is also time to send and get cards even in the era of the web. Over the 20+ years here on the American continent, I’ve received hundreds of them, but kept only a few.

One of the few precious ones, a definite keepsake, is a card from Brno with a nativity scene and a score to a Christmas carol. One of the most precious cards that I had sent out was made from a photo at the Meijer store in Cascade.

Although I can’t find it now, I remember precisely what was on it. We were picking blueberries as a family on a farm near Ludington in the 90-degree heat. We’re all holding blue pales and shielding our heads from the scorching sun with funny hats. My daughter Emma was wearing a t-shirt with a Polar bear on it.

“Happy holidays,” the card with mistletoe clip art and snowflakes said.

Speaking about passing on traits and such; both my daughter and I have the same sense for juxtaposition.

To be continued……

Copyright © 2013 story and photo by Emma Palova

Desert ephiphany

Going back to a distant childhood memory

As I approach my one year anniversary with Word Press on Jan. 15th I have to share this inspirational message or a writing prompt that goes so well with my memoir “Greenwich Meridian.”

My Rumanian friend and colleague on Word Press poet Valeriu Dg Barbu liked this timeline photo on my facebook in the same fashion I liked his childhood photo and poem Thief. Now, I understand why.

I was in this high plateau desert with Saguaro forest near Tucson AZ in 1972 with my parents and then in 2011 with my daughter Emma only to find out that nothing has changed.

“Do you remember this?”Emma asked.

Emma Palova 2011 in Saguaro National Park
Emma Palova 2011 in Saguaro National Park

And there were the same cacti as when I was in my beloved Saguaro desert  as a child since they live up to 100 to 200 years. There was even the same old visitor’s building even though it was closed and a new center had opened nearby.

It was a very humbling experience and I had to ask myself a question.

“Have  I changed?”

Sure, physically I have. I am older and I don’t have the romantic long hair so admired by both men and women.

I still get the same old question whenever I come back to Czech Republic for a visit.

“Why did you cut your hair?” neighbor Milena and a friend both asked me at first sight.

But, I am still the same ambitious and hard- driving creature never afraid to tackle new things, look to the sky and reach for the stars. Otherwise, I wouldn’t be in the USA. I would probably still be whining back in Czech, swearing at the regime and complaining about my vice-president job for an engineering firm located at Zarami, Zlin.

I am very happy here in the US  as a successful author, journalist & photographer. I am thankful to my entrepreneurial surroundings and friends including Word Press, facebook & Google+

Saguaro forest immortalized by Vaclav Konecny
Saguaro forest immortalized by Vaclav Konecny

 

Also inspired by the Sonoran desert, my dad former Ferris State University professor Vaclav Konecny immortalized the majestic saguaro in his oil on black velvet painting “Saguaro cacti at night” in the 70s. He did it again as a present for me in the 1990s with the same impeccable quality of a mathematician.

So styles and personalities basically don’t change.

I think everyone should ask themselves that same question: Have I changed since a certain humbling moment in my life?

Watch for my Silver Sunday post coming soon.

Copyright © 2013 story and photo by Emma Palova

Star Wars, sister wars

Star Wars bathrobes tag a message

As a rule coming from journalistic background, I usually don’t write about my feelings, even though that’s what most blogs are about. But, this time I have to break that rule.

Two days ago I found a big box with Amazon fulfillment services sticker on it. I didn’t open it for a day. I do have Shop Emma’s Amazon on my blog in an effort to monetize the site along with Google translator and Adwords.

When I finally opened the big box, I found two Jedi inspired bathrobes brown, furry with white checkered sash made in China. The mysterious robes with a Star Wars tag and a big brown pocket on the right side continue to puzzle me. The box came without any invoice. Maybe it’s an early Christmas present or is there a message?

In the fast changing world of Internet where words and tags mean everything, it makes me wonder. I have  been dealing lately with a lot of conflict between sisters. And that is not only between natural birth sisters, but other people’s sisters. Now, I understand why the great Russian playwright Anton Chekhov wrote Three Sisters.

“You have to let it channel, otherwise it’s not going to be any good,” he gave advise on writing.

Star Wars
Star Wars Jedi inspired bathrobes

I don’t have a sister, and I am glad. I used to wish I had one, that maybe we could be friends. I have witnessed hatred between sisters that goes all the way to the grave, the crib or the altar.

I write about hatred between sisters in my memoir Greenwich Meridian where East meets West. One of the sisters is my Godmother and aunt. When I visited Czech Republic in 2006, I wasn’t allowed to say hi to her. She in turn didn’t pick up the phone.

A few minutes ago, I found out somebody else’s sister ordered the bathrobes as a birthday present.

That’s one heck of a birthday present.