The pan de muerto (Spanish for Bread of the Dead or Day of the Dead Bread) is a type of bread from Mexico baked during the Dia de los Muertos season, around the end of October and the official holiday is celebrated on November 2. It is a soft bread shaped in round loaves with strips of dough attached on top (to resemble bones), and usually covered or sprinkled with sugar.
Another bread in the form of a sphere on the top represents a skull. The classic recipe for Pan de Muerto is a simple sweet bread recipe with the addition of anise seeds.
Pan de Muerto is sometimes baked with a toy skeleton inside. The one who finds the skeleton will have “good luck.” This bread is eaten during picnics at the graves along with tamales, cookies, and chocolate.
- 1/4 cup milk
- 1/4 cup (half a stick) margarine or butter, cut into 8 pieces
- 1/4 cup sugar
- 1/2 teaspoon salt
- 1 package active dry yeast
- 1/4 cup very warm water
- 2 eggs
- 3 cups all-purpose flour, unsifted
- 1/2 teaspoon anise seed
- 1/4 teaspoon ground cinnamon
- 2 teaspoons sugar
Instructions: Bring milk to boil and remove from heat. Stir in margarine or butter, 1/4 cup sugar and salt.
In large bowl, mix yeast with warm water until dissolved and let stand 5 minutes. Add the milk mixture.
Separate the yolk and white of one egg. Add the yolk to the yeast mixture, but save the white for later. Now add flour to the yeast and egg. Blend well until dough ball is formed.
Flour a pastry board or work surface very well and place the dough in center. Knead until smooth. Return to large bowl and cover with dish towel. Let rise in warm place for 90 minutes. Meanwhile, grease a baking sheet and preheat the oven to 350 degrees.
Knead dough again on floured surface. Now divide the dough into fourths and set one fourth aside. Roll the remaining 3 pieces into “ropes.”
On greased baking sheet, pinch 3 rope ends together and braid. Finish by pinching ends together on opposite side. Divide the remaining dough in half and form 2 “bones.” Cross and lay them atop braided loaf.
Cover bread with dish towel and let rise for 30 minutes. Meanwhile, in a bowl, mix anise seed, cinnamon and 2 teaspoons sugar together. In another bowl, beat egg white lightly.
When 30 minutes are up, brush top of bread with egg white and sprinkle with sugar mixture, except on cross bones. Bake at 350 degrees for 35 minutes.
Makes 8 to 10 servings.
Recipe found at: AzCentral
Early divination was often done using only the items at hand — sticks, vegetable peels, cloud formations, etc. Around the end of the harvest season, there wasn’t often much left in the fields.
However, nuts were often plentiful. Pecans, chestnuts, filberts and more would have been gathered up in baskets and stored, which made them the perfect medium for late fall divination. This is a similar celebration to Nutting Day, which falls in mid-September.
Filberts are the European variety of hazelnuts, and in some parts of England, they were used for divination purposes around Samhain night. In fact, for a while the practice was so popular that Halloween was sometimes referred to as Nut Crack Night. Filberts were placed in a pan over a fire and roasted. As they heated up, they would pop open. Young women watched the filberts carefully, because it was believed that if they popped enough to jump out of the pan, romantic success was guaranteed.
In some areas of Europe, the nuts were not roasted, but instead were ground into flour, which was then baked into special cakes and dessert breads.
These were eaten before bed, and were said to give the sleeper some very prophetic dreams. In a few regions, the flour was blended with butter and sugar to create Soul Cakes for All Soul’s Night.
Scottish poet Robert Burns describes a practice in which couples would roast a pair of nuts together, and the behavior of the nuts was indicative of the future of the relationship.
Burns says, “Burning the nuts is a favourite charm. They name the lad and lass to each particular nut, as they lay them in the fire; and accordingly as they burn quietly together, or start from beside one another, the course and issue of the courtship will be.”
Want to do your own Nut Crack Night divination? Select a pair of uncooked filberts. Assign a name to each for you and your lover. Place them in a pan over a fire, and watch to see what they do. Nuts that fly apart indicate that the relationship won’t last, but if they stay together, you’re practically guaranteed to be happy!
by Patti Wigington, ThoughtCo.com
Today is the Feast of the Einherjar: The chosen heroes who sit in Odin’s Hall are the Einherjar. Today we honor those dead kin who gave their lives for Family and Folk. If you have friends or family who died in battle, visit their graves today, if that is not possible, drink a libation in their memory.
- See also: Honoring the Einherjar
Note: Also called Fogmoon, this feast day is held on the nearest weekend to November 1st. A celebration of the war-dead and of Ragnarok, it is dedicated to Odin and Freya.
Lovely, summer-like days that occur around October 18 are called St. Luke’s Little Summer in honor of the saint’s feast day. In olden days, St. Luke’s Day did not receive as much attention in the secular world as St. John’s Day (June 24) and Michaelmas (September 29), so to keep from being forgotten, St. Luke presented us with some golden days to cherish before the coming of winter, or so the story goes. Some folks call this Indian Summer, but that officially occurs between November 11 and November 2
Traditional Catholic Celebrations:
Saint Luke’s Feast Day can be celebrated by reading the Acts of Apostles and praying the three canticles he preserved for us – the Benedictus, the Magnificat and the Nunc Dimittis. As the first Christian physician, Saint Luke is the patron saint of physicians and surgeons. For this reason, we honor Saint Luke on his feast day by praying through his intercession for doctors and those who care for the sick.
Found at: Almanac.com
Noah Webster, America’s first lexicographer, was born on October 16, 1758. We remember Webster as the author of the first American dictionary, but he was also the first authority to advocate American English. His American Spelling Book, published in 1783 (later known as Webster’s Elementary Spelling Book), was the first to Americanize the spelling of English words such as colour and labour by dropping the u. He also espoused American pronunciation and usage.
In a very real sense, Webster gave us the language that Americans think of as English. An estimated 60 million copies of Webster’s speller were sold during its first hundred years in print. In 1828, Webster’s American Dictionary of the English Language was published, with 12,000 more words and about 40,000 more definitions than any previous English dictionary.
This is an excellent day for divination involving the use of letters, words, or books. Here are a few links to get you started:
- Dictiomancy – divination by randomly opening a dictionary
- Alphabetical divination – divination by random choosing of the letters of the alphabet.
- Literomancy – divination by a letter in a written language
- Notarikon – divination by initials
- Onomancy – divination by letters in a name
Found at: Almanac.com
In ancient Roman culture, felicitas is a condition of divinely inspired productivity, blessedness, or happiness. Felicitas could encompass both a woman’s fertility, and a general’s luck or good fortune. The divine personification of Felicitas was cultivated as a goddess.
Although felicitas may be translated as “good luck,” and the goddess Felicitas shares some characteristics and attributes with Fortuna, the two were distinguished in Roman religion. Fortuna was unpredictable and her effects could be negative, as the existence of an altar to Mala Fortuna (“Bad Luck”) acknowledges. Felicitas, however, always had a positive significance.
In Ancient Rome
Felicitas had a temple in Rome as early as the mid-2nd century BC, and during the Republican era was honored at two official festivals of Roman state religion, on July 1 in conjunction with Juno and October 9 as Fausta Felicitas.
Felicitas continued to play an important role in Imperial cult, and was frequently portrayed on coins as a symbol of the wealth and prosperity of the Roman Empire. Her primary attributes are the caduceus and cornucopia. The English word “felicity” derives from felicitas.
On July 1 and October 9, Felicitas received a sacrifice in Capitolio, on the Capitoline Hill, on the latter date as Fausta Felicitas in conjunction with the Genius Publicus and Venus Victrix. These observances probably took place at an altar or small shrine, not a separate temple precinct.
The Acts of the Arval Brothers (1st century AD) prescribe a cow as the sacrifice for Felicitas. Pompey established a shrine for Felicitas at his new theater and temple complex, which used the steps to the Temple of Venus Victrix as seating. Felicitas was cultivated with Honor and Virtue, and she may have shared her shrine there with Victory, as she did in the Imperial era as Felicitas Caesaris (Caesar’s Felicitas) at Ameria.
Celebrating Felicitas Today:
“Felicitas’ themes are kindness, charity, love, romance, joy, success and luck. Her symbols are greetings (greeting cards). This Roman Goddess brings happiness, success, and good fortune whenever someone salutes another with good words or amiable deeds. She comes to us today to energize late fall and early winter with the transformational power of kindness.
Her festival day gives us an opportunity to shower anyone and everyone with cheerful trinkets, kind acts, and gentle words to lift people’s spirits. By looking for Felicitas for help, we can bring joy to people who might otherwise be feeling a case of autumn blues.
Here is an idea:
Look for, or make, some humorous greeting cards to send to folks you know would appreciate the thought. Lay your hands on them and invoke Felicitas’s blessings in any way that feels right.
To improve the effect further, anoint the cards with rejuvenating aromatic oils that match the recipient’s needs (such as pine for money, rose for love or peace, cinnamon for luck, sandalwood for health, and lavender to combat depression). This way, when they open that card, the magic and the aroma will be released together to bless, energize, and bear Felicitas’s greetings along with your heartfelt wishes!”
Sources: 365 Goddess, and Wikipedia
In the Scriptures, the act of blessing means ‘the imparting of power or life.’ The person performing the blessing is mediating that power from God or Christ to the person performing or the animal involved. To bless is more than an expression of goodwill and caring. To bless is to impart God’s power in person! The blessing of each animal, by name, means that health, healing and life are being mediated from God for the benefit of the animal in its relationship with its human partners. Be careful not to reinforce the separation of human animals and other animals by this blessing. Instead, consider reinforcing our common kinship by blessing ALL animals–human and otherwise.
A Prayer For Our Pets
Heavenly Father, our human ties with our friends of other species is wonderful and a special gift from you. We now ask you to grant our special animal companions your fatherly care and healing power to take away any suffering they have.
Give us, their human friends, new understanding of our responsibilities to these creatures of yours. They have trust in us as we have in you; our souls and theirs are on this earth together to give one another friendship, affection, and caring.
Take our heartfelt prayers and fill our ill or suffering animals with healing light and strength to overcome whatever weakness of body they have.
Your goodness is turned upon every living thing and your grace flows to all your creatures.
From our souls to theirs goodness flows, touching each of us with the reflection of your love.
Grant to our special animal companions long and healthy lives. Give them good relationships with us, and if you see fit to take them from us, help us to understand that they are not gone from us, but only drawing closer to you.
Grant our prayer through the intercession of Good St. Francis of Assisi, who honored you through all your creatures. Give him the power to watch over our animal friends until they are safely with you in eternity, where we someday hope to join them in giving you honor forever.
Blessing of All the Animals: A Sermon
Here’s a transcript of a catholic sermon by David Rhoads, often used as part of the services for the Blessing of the Animals. I thought it might be interesting to use it as a sort of template for any blessings that I might want to do today. While I am not a catholic, or even a follower of any christian religion, I did think it had possibilities as a jumping off point, and with some creative changes, it might be quite pagan and wonderful.
So, here it is, I’d love to see what you can do with it:
And God said, “Let the waters bring forth swarms of living creatures, and let birds fly above the earth across the dome of the sky.” So God created the great sea monsters and every living creature that moves, of every kind, with which the waters swarm and every winged bird of every kind. And God saw that it was good. And God blessed them, saying, “Be fruitful and multiply and fill the waters in the sea, and let birds multiply on the earth. . . . And God said, “Let the earth bring forth creatures of every kind: cattle and creeping things and wild animals of the earth of every kind.” And it was so. God made the wild animals of the earth of every kind, and the cattle of every kind and everything that creeps upon the ground of every kind. And God saw that it was good
~Genesis 1: 20-25
First, I want to address you varieties of dogs and cats and other creatures who are here today. And I want to speak with you fish and ferrets and hamsters and parakeets and snakes brought here today by your human companions. You are here for your own sake, and you also represent all those who are not here today, animals of every kind—cattle and goats and horses and elephants and bees and cougars and crocodiles and puffer fish and eels and insects—so many we cannot name them all.
I want to announce the good news to all you creatures. I want you to know that God loves you. God loves you for your own sake—and not because of what you can do for humans.
You are good in yourselves. The good book tells us that when God created you—fish of the sea and birds of the air and creatures of the land—God looked at all God had created, and God saw that “indeed, it was very good!”
When God created you, God blessed you. God told you to “Be fruitful and multiply and fill the earth.”
God created you in huge swarms and in great diversity. God wants all of you to survive and to thrive on Earth.God created the world for you, so that you have what you need to live.
The psalmist tells us that God made the rain to water the trees, the trees for you birds to nest, the grass for you cattle to graze, and the crags as a refuge for you mountain goats. God wants you to receive your “food in due season” and to be “filled with good things.”
The Bible tells us that when the flood came, God rescued each of your species through Noah in the ark. And God made a covenant with you fish of the sea and birds of the air and domestic animals and all animals on Earth to protect you for the future. God made the first “endangered species act.”
Just like us, you are called to worship God. The hills are to clap their hands. The fields are to exalt. You cattle and dogs and cats are to praise God by being who you are and exalting in it. John the seer had a vision in which he heard the entire creation—everything in heaven, on the earth, under the earth and in the sea—cry out in praise: “Blessing and honor and glory and power be to our God and to the lamb forever and ever.”
We human animals need to confess to you that we have systematically mistreated you, depleted your numbers, destroyed you, slaughtered you, crowded you out, neglected you, dealt with you as commodities in our quest for comfort and ease. We have not seen you as God’s creatures. We have not shown proper reverence or respect. Against God’s will, we have not set limits upon ourselves so that you might live and thrive. What we have done! We are sorry!
You who are here today are so fortunate because you have human companions who care for you. But so many of your cousins are threatened with extinction—snow leopards and timber wolves and green sea turtles and condors and paddlefish and fin whales among so many others. We humans may so crowd out or deplete these kin of yours that not a single one of them will ever again exist on Earth.
When we destroy you and diminish you in these ways, we not only compromise your ability to survive, we also stifle your capacity to praise God. Along with all creation, you are groaning in labor pains, waiting for the revelation of children of God who will care for creation and make provisions for you to thrive.
Now I want to address you human creatures. I want to announce the good news to you also. God loves you. God loves you for your own sake and wants you to thrive. When God made you; God saw that this too was good.
God said also to you: “Be fruitful and multiply and fill the Earth”. Yet we have already done this! So we need to find ways to limit the impact of our species, because God did not mean for us to crowd out the rights of other creatures to be fruitful and multiply also. In developed countries, we have become like an infestation—taking over land and destroying habitats and devouring species and infiltrating homes and migratory routes of so many other animals—and we need to learn our limits and exercise restraint.
God even created us humans with a special responsibility—to exercise dominion. This does not mean that we are to exercise domination over other creatures or to exploit them for human mis-use. Rather, we are to delight in other creatures, as God does, and respect and care for them. Our love for creation is the only basis for our right use of creation. We are to exercise dominion as servants of creation. As Jesus has said, we are not to lord over anyone, but be as slaves to all. We are to take responsibility for all creatures, to serve their needs, and to work to preserve them.
And we are to do this not with a sense of superiority but in solidarity with all other creatures. We were created to be together, to be companions to one another, to thrive all together. All animals are our cousins, our kin. And God made a covenant with us and with all other animals together. Admit it, we humans are also animals, primate mammals.
And Jesus was a mammal. Jesus was born and lived in solidarity with all of life. Jesus lived to care about all who were oppressed and made vulnerable and marginalized by society; and right now that includes most creatures, not just humans. Jesus died in order that God might reconcile to God’s self all things in creation.
In response to God’s love, we are freed to behave in ways that enable all of life to thrive together. You do not need to prove anything. You can set limits on yourselves. You can simplify your lifestyle so that others may survive and thrive. You can become aware the effects of your actions on other creatures and curtail your activity. You can act to establish and restore safe homes and habitats for those animals that are endangered.
Now I want to address all of you creatures together. I had this vision in a dream during sleep at night. I was in the front row of a cathedral looking at the scene before me during a service of communion. I saw the priest passing bread to the first person kneeling at the communion railing. As I looked, the next figure at the railing was a snake! It was curled at the bottom with its back arching up over the rail and with head straining forward to receive the grace of Christ. The next figure was another person. Next was a raccoon with paws up on the communion rail leaning forward to receive the grace of Christ. Then I saw a bird perched on the corner of the railing eating bread crumbs.
As I finished surveying this scene in my dream, suddenly the side walls of the cathedral fell away and outside was thick foliage of forest and jungle on each side with all manner of wild animals roaming around. In this moment, it seemed as if walls of separation had been removed and there was a seamless web of all creation praising God and exalting in the grace of Christ.
From the time I awoke from that dream until this day, I have never been able to think of worship in the same way again. I now see all of Earth as the sanctuary in which we worship, and I see myself invoking and confessing and giving thanks and praising God and offering myself in solidarity with all of life. May that vision also be your vision.
You who are here today are very fortunate because you and have a relationship of love and care and loyalty between yourself and your human or your pet companion. You model how all relationships between humans and other animals should be. We wish to project this relationship as the model for our human relationship with all animals. May we care about all animals as we care for our companions at home.
I invite you all to come forward for a blessing. Sometimes when we have a service for the Blessing of the Animals, we bless only the non-human animals, as if we ourselves are not also animals. Therefore, as an expression of solidarity with each other, I invite all of you—non-human animals and human animals alike—to come for a blessing together. We bless you as companions together and we bless your relationship:
“May God bless each of you with health and safety and well-being and long life. And may God bless your relationship together so that it may be filled with love and joy.”
Many churches celebrate the Feast of St Francis of Assisi on October 4 each year. The feast commemorates the life of St Francis, who was born in the 12th century and is the Catholic Church’s patron saint of animals and the environment. It is a popular day for pets to be “blessed”.
About St Francis
St. Francis of Assisi (1182-1226) was the founder of the Franciscan Order. The son of a wealthy merchant named Pietro di Bernardone, he publicly denounced his father’s wealth in 1206 and dedicated his life to prayer and serving the poor. Pope Innocent III eventually gave Francis and his followers permission to preach, and he ordained Francis a deacon. The followers of Francis were called Friars Minor, or “the lesser brethren.” Francis died on October 3, 1226, and was canonized in 1228.
Text from his Sermon to the Birds:
“My little sisters, the birds, much bounden are ye unto God, your Creator, and always in every place ought ye to praise Him, for that He hath given you liberty to fly about everywhere, and hath also given you double and triple rainment; moreover He preserved your seed in the ark of Noah, that your race might not perish out of the world; still more are ye beholden to Him for the element of the air which He hath appointed for you; beyond all this, ye sow not, neither do you reap; and God feedeth you, and giveth you the streams and fountains for your drink; the mountains and valleys for your refuge and the high trees whereon to make your nests; and because ye know not how to spin or sow, God clotheth you, you and your children; wherefore your Creator loveth you much, seeing that He hath bestowed on you so many benefits; and therefore, my little sisters, beware of the sin of ingratitude, and study always to give praises unto God.”
-Saint Francis of Assisi (c.1220)
Here is a traditional recipe for the Mid-Autumn Moon Cake
- 1 can (17-1/2 ounces) lotus seed paste
- 1/4 cup finely chopped walnuts
- 4 cups all-purpose flour
- 1/2-cup non-fat dried milk powder
- 3 teaspoons baking powder
- 1/2 teaspoon salt
- 3 eggs
- 1 cup sugar
- 1/2 cup solid shortening, melted and cooled
- 1 egg yolk , lightly beaten
- Mix lotus seed paste and walnuts together in a bowl; set aside.
Sift flour, milk powder, baking powder, and salt together into a bowl. In large bowl of electric mixer, beat eggs on medium speed until light and lemon colored. Add sugar; beat for 10 minutes or until mixture falls in a thick ribbon. Add melted shortening; mix lightly. With a spatula, fold in flour mixture. Turn dough out on a lightly floured board; knead for 1 minute or until smooth and satiny. Divide dough in half; roll each half into a log. Cut each log into 12 equal pieces.
To shape each moon cake, roll a piece of dough into a ball. Roll out on a lightly floured board to make a 4-inch circle about 1/8-inch thick. Place 1 tablespoon of lotus seed paste mixture in center of dough circle.
Fold in sides of dough to completely enclose filling; press edges to seal. Lightly flour inside of moon cake press with 2-1/2 inch diameter cups. Place moon cake, seam side up, in mold; flatten dough to conform to shape of mold. Bang one end of mold lightly on work surface to dislodge moon cake. Place cake on ungreased baking sheet. Repeat to shape remaining cakes. Brush tops with egg yolk.
Bake in a preheated 375 degree F. oven for 30 minutes or until golden brown. Transfer to a rack and let cool. Makes 2 dozen
Copyright Yan Can Cook, Inc. 1991.
- 1/4 cup sugar
- 2 egg yolks
- 1/2 cup salted butter
- 1 cup all-purpose flour
- 1 cup strawberry (or your favorite) jam
(traditionally red bean paste is used so if you want a more authentic version, you can use a can of red bean paste instead of the jam)
- Preheat the oven to 375 degrees.
- Combine the butter, sugar and 1 egg yolk and stir.
- Mix in the flour.
- Form the dough into one large ball and wrap it in plastic wrap.
- Refrigerate dough for half an hour.
- Unwrap the chilled dough and form small balls in the palms of your hand.
- Make a hole with your thumb in the center of each mooncake and fill with about half a teaspoon of jam.
- Brush each cake with the other beaten egg yolk and place on a cookie sheet.
- Bake for about 20 minutes or just until the outside edges are slightly brown